Warning signs and better responses

DURING my early childhood we acquired a burro. My father bought her from a man who had captured her in the California desert. She had been living there, wild, since birth. Although we had her for years and enjoyed her immensely, she never really made the transition from wild to domesticated animal. When I would ride her, and she decided she had had enough, she would swivel her ears back, holding them low along her neck - a warning sign that she was about to buck - and in a minute or two I'd be sailing through the air, hoping for a not-too-hard crash landing. In my effort to keep from being thrown, my response - and it was comically ineffective - was to reach out and twist her ears forward. While that erased the warning sign, it didn't stop the bucking. And, again, I'd go sailing through the air.

Today, when I see warning signs of approaching danger, whether it's on the personal or the global level, I like to ask myself if my response is going to touch merely the surface issues - twist the ears forward, so to speak.

It's easy, sometimes even tempting, to fall into the pattern of erasing or covering up warning signs of trouble. For a short time, perhaps, we manage to avoid the problem. How much better, though, to go deeper, facing the cause of the danger and establishing in its place a basis for safety!

The ninety-first Psalm does just that. It addresses the problem of approaching danger and illustrates how to respond in a way that will bring safety. It also tells us why that safety is achievable. Look at just part of it: ''He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. . . . Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day . . . . Because thou hast made the Lord . . . thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee . . . . For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.'' n1

n1 Psalms 91:1,5, 9-11

The arrows may be flying, but to the degree that our response is to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, we'll be all right. As we make the Lord our habitation, as we mentally abide in the presence of Love and Life, we find ourselves being companioned by angels. And we abide in His presence by identifying ourselves spiritually, realizing that we're actually God's offspring. We need also, moment by moment, to express the love and purity that characterize the divine nature. Then, whatever the threat, it's deflated because we're acknowledging and demonstrating our relationship to God, a relationship that's unbreakable and in which we find eternal safety.

Christian Science, in accord with the teachings of Christ Jesus, highlights the nature of God as infinite good and shows how He delivers us from danger. Threatening evils in the whole range of their appearing always have a number of common characteristics: they never come from God; they have no ultimate legitimacy or power in the presence of God, good; they are defeatable when responded to from a spiritual basis.

God, who is Life and Love, is always present and is all-wise. He imparts the guidance, the thoughts - the angels, to use the Biblical term - needed to make right responses. When we make our moves on the basis of this angelic guidance, the danger is counteracted. What's more, we don't waste time being fearful of warning signs or making superficial and ineffective responses of the twist-the-donkey's-ear variety. God's thoughts, His angels, guide us to deep and meaningful action. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science , defines ''angels'' as ''God's thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality.'' n2

n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 581

We may buy a padlock to shut out a personal threat, or take part in political action to stave off a global threat. But in either case, those actions will have the greatest effectiveness if they are underpinned by our first conferring with the angel messages imparted to us by God, and then prayerfully abiding in the secret place of the Most High, in the presence of Life and Love. Daily Bible Verse The Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

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