'Before they call, I will answer'

My three-year-old daughter was completely absorbed in looking at the toys. I went farther back into the store to buy a greeting card, thinking that she saw me do so. But I should have watched her more closely, because when a moment later I turned to go, she was nowhere to be seen.

This happened on a summer night in a large city, in an area noted for its high crime rate. The sidewalks were crowded with people. We had lived in that city only a short time, and my husband, a merchant seaman, would not return for several months. For a moment I felt utterly alone.

As I ran out of the store in near panic - the cashier following me to help in the search - I reached out desperately to God. As a Christian Scientist I knew that God, divine Love, is our ever-present help, and I knew He was there then, with me and with my child, in spite of the fear and confusion. Almost at once a woman, seeing my obvious distress, stopped and asked, ''Have you lost a child? There's a little girl at the next corner in the arms of a policeman.'' And she pointed in the opposite direction from which I was headed. I thanked her, turned , and ran off to the next corner to find my child being comforted by a kind officer. Needless to say, we were both happy to be reunited so quickly in the midst of that ever-moving stream of pedestrians!

I had long known the Bible verse ''... before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.'' n1 And I had seen proof of its truth before, but never more beautifully than on that evening.

n1 Isaiah 65:24.

How can God answer before we call? God is not a magnified human but a beneficent Principle, divine Love, filling all space and governing the universe in harmony. Christian Science teaches that the conflict we see around us is not of God's creating; therefore it's not the ultimate reality of life but a distorted, limited view of things. God's creation is completely good and is here now, though our eyes and ears may not perceive it. We can experience the harmony of divine reality in proportion to our perception of it - a perception gained through prayer and a growing realization of the ever-presence and all-power of God. When thought is in rapport with the divine, we find our answer often before we even have time for an extended prayer.

Our ongoing conviction of Love's constant presence and care protects and sustains us, and enables us to see through appearances to the unchanging spiritual fact of perfection. What has been proved through spiritual healing is not theoretical but practical.

I also learned a valuable lesson that evening. I had been in the habit of leaving a place quickly upon completing my business, whether or not my child was ready to come. I would simply turn and go - glancing back, of course, to make sure she was following. This had worked well; she always came promptly when she saw me leaving. I had felt a bit self-righteous, thinking that my child was better disciplined than others because I did not have to plead with her as I had seen some parents doing. But now I saw that my firmness needed to be combined with more wisdom and love, for on this occasion the child had assumed that I had gone out of the store without her, and she had run out to find me.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee. Therefore despair not nor murmur, for that which seeketh to save, to heal, and to deliver, will guide thee, if thou seekest this guidance.'' n2 On this occasion I had both the quick protection of Love and its tender lesson.

n2 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 149-150.

We need not fear any circumstance if we accept this all-encompassing Love and put our complete trust in it. Christ Jesus said, ''What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.'' n3 The understanding of the allness of good, and faith in that good because it is the expression of God, can heal discord.

n3 Mark 11:24.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall he safe. Proverbs 29:25

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