`MAKE yourself at home, we used to tell friends when they came to visit. And that's what they said to us when we visited them. We did consider ourselves at home, where we could be our everyday selves, knowing we were loved, understood, accepted. This gentle, "at home feeling is similar, if only in miniature, to one I cherish intimately now, years later, in the heightened awareness of the loving nature of God, and my relation to Him, that I gain when I pray.
As a young adult I had many problems to solve. I prayed a lot, and it seemed I was always looking for churches in which to do it. I imagined then that only in such places of worship could I be certain to feel the presence of God. Fortunately, as I began to find out more about God through studying Christian Science, I came to see a fuller significance in the fact that God isn't confined only to certain places. He is truly ever present.
One of the things that first attracted me to Christian Science was the emphasis of its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, on this unconditional ever-presence of God, divine Love. As she points out in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space. That is enough!
This presence of God is not simply evanescent words but is solid reality. I have become poignantly aware of God's presence in places I once would have thought were highly unlikely settings.
For example, one day recently an unexpected challenge disrupted my tight schedule. I had broken a tooth, and I was taking time out of my busy day to have the break repaired. Because I was afraid that I would lose the tooth, I knew that I had better pray before I went to see the dentist. I had only a scant five minutes before I had to be on my way, however, and I was in an area where there was considerable activity from others working nearby.
Since I couldn't think of a specific prayer to begin with, I decided that I would simply feel, as fully as I could, that presence Christ Jesus addressed as "our Father when he prayed.
This same presence of God the Apostle Paul declared to a group of Athenians. Acts tells us that he said: "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; . . . for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
As I reached out to feel God's presence, I remembered a tender statement from a psalm. "We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. In the midst of everything going on around me, the quiet message was clear: I and all God's children are as lambs to a loving shepherd. Remembering that Christ Jesus had used that same symbolism in his healings of multitudes, I was flooded with a comforting assurance of divine Love's presence.
And suddenly it was there, that feeling of comfort and security that always reminds me of that old-fashioned invitation, "Make yourself at home! In my scrounged five minutes, I felt the Love that says just that to us. The dental work was swiftly, painlessly completed without drugs, and I went on my way. But the sense of God's nearness stayed with me. The incident had been one more in a countless number when I have felt the presence of Love itself with its healing and blessing.
For me, at least, divine Love heralds itself with the comforting peace and assurance I knew as a child when someone said to me, "Make yourself at home! and I knew I really could do just that.