On the trail map it was a thin blue line marked as a creek. Where I live in Illinois, creeks are narrow, shallow streams easily crossed on foot. But I was hiking 700 miles from home, and to my surprise, this mountain "creek" was a broad body of water with a swift current.
I doubted that I could cross it safely. It looked as though this unexpected obstacle would dampen my plans to continue my hike and enjoy the beauty of the region.
After walking up and down the bank of the creek and seeing no way to cross, I decided to pray - to reach for the divine understanding that would guide and reassure me and help me not be afraid. As I sat quietly on the bank, trying to get a spiritual perspective, I remembered a statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper: "Divine Love is our hope, strength, and shield. We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven" ("Miscellaneous Writings," pg. 113). So, I tried to put Love at the "helm of thought" and feel the power of its "hope, strength, and shield."
While fear often blinds us to the possibilities at hand, prayer quiets fear, opening the way to trust that same infinitely wise God that was so real to Jesus.
The Gospels report that Jesus often went to God in prayer. He was able to prove his dominion over every conceivable obstacle. And he acknowledged that the power behind his works was not grounded in his personal ability or courage but in the power of God. His example can serve as a guide, enabling us to assert our dominion that comes from God, and we can start following in small ways.
Certainly, my predicament at the creek was not a major challenge. But my prayer led to a simple and practical solution. As I walked upstream, I came to an area where the crossing looked less formidable, and I safely continued on my way.
Ironically, I had already passed that point in a previous attempt to find a better route. The difference was that this time, fear no longer dominated my thoughts.
God is always at hand, imparting the wisdom and courage to go forward. With hope given from divine Love, we can expect victory instead of being tempted to give up. The strength of Love gives us the courage to go forward and dissolves the fear of defeat. And with the shield of Love, we have our protection at hand.
Though we would hardly expect life to be without challenges, no challenge is without victory when God is at the helm of our thought. We can turn to Him on the trail, at the office, in a crowd, on the expressway. Wherever we are, God is there.
Once, I injured my leg and foot an hour or so before I was to conduct a meeting. I remained calm - but what to do? The pain made it difficult to walk, and I was concerned about having to stand for most of the meeting. Once again, I needed to put God at the helm and trust in the hope, strength, and shield of divine Love.
As I prayed, I felt a deep gratitude for His care. In fact, this gratitude played a major role in the healing of the pain and disability. As with my experience at the creek, I was not intimidated by the situation. Soon, my leg and foot were no longer hurting, and the bleeding had stopped. I was able to put my shoe back on and walk normally. I conducted the meeting freely.
There is never a moment when we can find ourselves "up a creek," going it alone. God blesses us with dominion. Love's plan for us doesn't put us in harm's way, nor does it result in confusion or frustration. It does, however, bring to view "everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven." Keeping divine Love at the helm of thought spiritually refreshes, uplifts, regenerates, and heals.
Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.
Isaiah 43:1, 2