Both of my parents worked when I was growing up. I often came home from school and stayed by myself until my brother got home from school.
Once, there was a story going around that someone had spotted Big Foot in our town. This big, furry, manlike beast could look into windows seven feet off the ground and leave footprints in the ground more than two feet long! Everyone said it was wild and dangerous.
I didn't really believe it when I first heard it, but when I got home that day, that story kept haunting me. What if it was true? What if Big Foot showed up before Mom and Dad got home? What if it didn't know that I was friendly? What would it do to Sam, my dog?
I didn't like these thoughts, but it was hard to stop them. I thought about going over to the neighbors' house until someone got home, but that would have meant walking through the woods. If I were Big Foot, that's where I would hang out.
Without having any person to turn to, I turned to God. I asked God to protect my family, my dog, and me. I began to think about the things I was learning in Sunday School. For example, I could never be alone because God is always with me, guarding and guiding me.
I also learned that God saw "every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). If God made everything good, then there was nothing outside or inside my house that could hurt me or anyone I loved.
I thought about God being my Mother and Father. Whenever I woke from a bad dream, Mom or Dad would give me a big hug and tell me that God's love was filling all space. So I pictured God giving me a hug and filling my whole town with love.
Pretty soon, I no longer felt afraid. I knew I was safe, knowing that God was taking care of my family and me, and of everyone in the neighborhood - even Big Foot, if he existed.
Although the story of Big Foot ending up being made-up, I learned two important lessons. First, instead of getting scared over stories that other people tell me, I learned to ask God what He has to say about a situation first. And second, that God is always around to help, guard, and protect.
I had a chance to apply these ideas one day when I found myself not feeling well. I'd gone swimming at a local lake to celebrate the end of the school year. That night, I began to feel hot and achy all over. I didn't want to do anything but sleep.
My mom read in the newspaper the next day that park officials found a bacteria at the lake where we'd been swimming, and the beach was closed until the problem could be cleaned up. Several people had been hospitalized.
At first, I was scared. But then I remembered the Big Foot story. I knew that the same truths that calmed me then applied to this situation as well. Since I wanted to turn to God for help, my mom called a Christian Science practitioner to pray with us.
Just as Big Foot turned out to be false, we reasoned that if God didn't say it, then the truth of this story could be questioned. So instead of believing it, the practitioner and I asked God what He knew about me and about everyone who'd gone swimming at the lake.
The answer was simple. God made everything good. He never made any "bad" bacteria that could make someone sick. No matter how real or how scary the threat, God is always caring and protecting each one of us, and I was beginning to understand this. Within a short time, I felt better and was able to enjoy summer vacation. Also, park officials reopened the lake to swimming.
Big Foot stories come to us every day. Some of them might seem frightening, such as, "I'm sick" or "Someone might try to hurt me or my family." No matter how threatening these stories might sound, they can't change the fact that God made everything and everyone and filled the universe with love. God promises that He will "give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways" (Ps. 91:11).
From earth's fears and vain alarms
Safe in His encircling arms,
He will keep us all the way,
God, our refuge, strength and stay.
Christian Science Hymnal