FOR hours, a fire had been raging near our home, destroying hundreds of acres of crops and wilderness. It was so out of control that firefighters could do nothing but let it burn up to the edge of the city and try to contain it there before homes were destroyed.
This plan was working well until the wind changed direction, picked up speed, and moved the fire toward a whole new unburned expanse of land. It was headed right for our family's home. We all pitched in to the efforts being made to stop it before it was too late. One with a bulldozer, one with a tractor and blade, my dad and my brother worked at building a firebreak. But the wind-fueled fire seemed to know no bounds as it leapt across the desert.
I stood nearby, wondering what I could do to help stop the advancing flames. I looked to one side and saw a line drawn out through the sagebrush and cheatgrass just ahead of the fire. It was a small gravel road. I was reminded of a quotation in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. She writes: ``Discussing his campaign, General Grant said: `I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.''' And she continues: ``Science says: All is Mind and Mind's idea. You must fight it out on this line. Matter can afford you no aid'' (p. 492). I had been putting my hope in human efforts to stop the fire, but these were falling short. It was time to put my trust in God. The mindless destruction this fire was leaving behind was not right, and through the power of God it could be stopped. I had seen too many evidences of God's power in my life to doubt His care now. I prayerfully resolved to stick to this line of spiritual reasoning until the fire ceased.
I thought about what Christ Jesus said in the Bible, in Matthew's Gospel: ``The kingdom of heaven is at hand'' (10:7). The charred vegetation in front of me hardly looked like the kingdom of heaven at hand! But I had no doubt that Jesus knew what he was talking about. Even though I saw no evidence of heaven at the moment, that didn't mean heaven was absent. Heaven, the harmony of God and His creation, is the reality. But I realized that while the devouring flame, needless destruction, and seeming hopelessness of the situation were occupying so much of my attention, I couldn't see clearly what was true. I needed to get a better view of things.
If heaven is all around, I reasoned, I should be able to see proof of it. I turned to Mind, away from the outward, material picture, to find reason for hope.
And find it I did! In Mind, God, all are ideas. The desert, the wheat fields, the houses people lived in, these all hinted at the valuable spiritual ideas God creates. Spiritual ideas are immortal and noncombustible. They are always present and can never be taken away from anyone. They are found in omnipresent, infinite Mind. The kingdom of heaven at hand isn't in things, but in God!
After a few minutes of letting this spiritual view of creation unfold before me, I looked up and almost didn't believe what I saw. The blaze had been reduced from hundreds of feet of rapidly advancing, towering flames to a few minor brush fires. Between a well-placed firebreak and two firetrucks that had taken the initiative in extinguishing the flames, the fire was soon history. Everyone was overjoyed to see it come to such a quick end. I couldn't help noticing it had gone no further than the small gravel road that had originally inspired my prayer.