It looked like real trouble. We were headed right for a huge rock in our whitewater raft.
It took everything in me not to lean away from the rock, but to fearlessly follow the advice we were given to lean toward it and to let the current take us around the rock. Although it felt exactly like the opposite thing to do, we trusted the directions to lean forward and to move with the larger principle at work in our favor. Even as we were headed for the rock, the anxiety about encountering trouble began to lose its impact, and we went around the rock with assurance and ease.
This whitewater experience gave me some valuable insights that have helped me in my prayers to God about anxiety. The scary rock incident reminds me of how anxiety sees danger ahead and wants to flee in the opposite direction. In praying for spiritual answers about anxiety, I have discovered more about a higher power at work.
When I see danger ahead and feeling anxious makes me want to run like crazy, I'm finding that it's actually a natural inclination to lean on God, Principle, for peace as the spiritual reality right at the point of trouble. God's all-power embraces the future in its never-absent love, always in operation to counteract any present threat and the fear of it.
There are life-threatening as well as less dramatic instances in the Bible that show the power of Love, God, and the powerlessness of anxiety. One of the more dramatic stories is that of the brothers Jacob and Esau, whose lives were overwhelmed with hatred and fear toward one another.
Jacob's anxiety must have been at an all-time high when messengers told him that Esau was coming to meet him. Jacob had left home years earlier, when his mother had told him that Esau planned to kill him because Jacob had deceptively taken Esau's birthright.
Now, it looked like real trouble ahead. The Bible tells us that Jacob was left alone to wrestle with "a man" until the break of day. He must have done some serious leaning on God in prayer to show him a way out of the mess.
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, brings insight to this story in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Jacob was alone, wrestling with error, struggling with a mortal sense of life, substance, and intelligence as existent in matter with its false pleasures and pains, when an angel, a message from Truth and Love, appeared to him and smote the sinew, or strength, of his error, till he saw its unreality" (pg. 308). Jacob's nature was transformed to the point where he could say, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved" (Gen. 32:30).
Jacob's leaning on God must have given him a new view of his life as inseparable from God intact, safe, and without anxiety. Finding his own peace knowing that God was universal Life must have enabled Jacob to know that Esau also was held in this Life. We aren't really told what Jacob felt when he saw Esau coming with 400 men, but I'm sure Jacob was moving confidently and fearlessly toward what may have still looked like trouble.
This view of God's power as a governing Principle must have outweighed feeling controlled by impending danger, anxiety, and the desire to flee.
Instead of encountering danger, Jacob and Esau embraced in tears, finding grace in each other's sight. The powerlessness of anxiety and the fear of disaster were destroyed as the brothers were reconciled.
If you feel headed toward some scary future "rock," be it large or small, there are always steps to take in prayer. Sit steady in your spiritual seat of inseparability from God. Lean on and into God's presence and power, which is the only thing ahead, and let God take you forward with certainty.
Trust in the Lord
with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine
In all thy ways acknowledge
him, and he shall
direct thy paths.