"We knew we had help on our side." That was the assurance from Bob Hawkins, the uncle of the now very famous Boy Scout Brennan Hawkins. Their family survived four days of worry and stress, while this 11-year-old was lost in the rugged Utah mountains, by turning to their faith in God and Christ Jesus.
Brennan was lost during a Boy Scout camping trip and was found alive, well, and practically unharmed after four days. Those searching for him had all but given up hope. Many were dragging a river in the direction they felt he might have gone. The words "recovery" were replacing "rescue" in many conversations. But then a volunteer ran across Brennan on a road, five miles and a ridge over from where he had vanished.
News media and rescue workers alike have called Brennan's safe return home "a miracle," and there do seem to be many things about the story that go beyond what was expected. Even the man who found Brennan, Forrest Nunley, when talking with the crew of "NBC Nightly News," characterized what led him to Brennan as "listening to your soul."
Mr. Nunley has voluntarily joined other search parties, and humbly said he just went where he was supposed to go that day. Of course, that would be uphill instead of down (the logical path for a lost child), through very rugged paths that were a struggle even on his fancy new four-wheeler. And after stumbling across Brennan on the road, Nunley was shocked to have reception on his cellphone - a rarity in that area - so he could quickly call for aid.
But is all this what the world calls miraculous? To me that means something extraordinary that cannot be explained was going on. With so many prayers being offered for his safe return, from family and strangers alike, maybe we should expect that those prayers were answered by divine Love, who always knows where each of Her children is and keeps them all safe.
My experience is that the answer to prayer is not a miracle. It is totally to be expected. Turning to our Father-Mother God in times of trouble is not simply a way to find peace and calm but also significant results: healing and safety.
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, discussed this concept of miracles in her seminal work "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." She stressed, "The miracle introduces no disorder, but unfolds the primal order, establishing the Science of God's unchangeable law" (page 135). And she later defined a miracle in part as "that which is divinely natural, but must be learned humanly" (page 591).
God's eternal law is that all humanity is tenderly cared for through His harmonious action. As Christ Jesus said repeatedly, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Since we are under this care - existing in this kingdom of heaven - it shouldn't be out of the ordinary to expect to feel this care. The divine activity does not disrupt life or magically intervene. What we call a miracle is a moment where we have seen God's all-power in our life or in someone else's life. It is a divinely natural answer to honest and faith-filled prayers.
And that kind of prayer was actively going on for Brennan. I heard of a little boy who stayed up all night praying for Brennan - a stranger to him, but still a child of God who needed his support. Brennan himself said that when he realized he was lost, the first thing he did was say a prayer. His father, Toby, told reporters that he's confident that everyone's prayers helped bring his son home.
Jody Hawkins, Brennan's mother, summed it up best in a statement broadcast on the "Today Show." Through tears of joy, she said: "People say that the heavens are closed and God no longer answers prayers. We are here to unequivocally tell you that the heavens are not closed. Prayers are answered, and children come home."
May this family's experience bring hope to every family seeking the safe return of their children, of whatever age. We don't need to hope for some magical, unexplained miracle. Prayers are answered.
The Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot
from being taken.