WALKING home from the grocery store one evening, my arms full, I realized that someone was following me. It was dark and there was no one else on the street. I had been praying about being safe, trying to see more clearly that because God, who is Love, is everywhere, man is always safe. There can be no danger of any kind in Love, and the man of God's creating can only express and feel God's love. As a Christian Scientist I had always found prayer to be the most practical and effective way to find the answer for any trouble. Study of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy,1 had taught me that prayer is absolutely reliable, whatever the situation. I turned to see who was following me, and as I did a young man hid in a doorway but did not go in. As I continued walking, he began to follow again. I turned to God at that moment, asking Him what I should do. I felt no fear, confident that I would be guided and protected. The thought came to turn and look directly at the man. I did this, fearlessly looking at him for several seconds. Then I went on my way. He did not follow.
Crime in the city had been looming large in my thinking. I had been feeling that my small understanding of God was having little impact on a city full of crime. I knew that man as God's likeness--the real man--is never a criminal. God's offspring couldn't possibly be evil. But I was also aware that there were many people who didn't understand their true nature and who felt separated from God, perhaps frustrated by an unhappy or deprived background--and who therefore turned to crime.
I was having trouble reconciling the two very opposite concepts of man as created in the image and likeness of God2 and as a sinful mortal who could commit a crime. What I needed to understand was that there really is only one kind of man--the man that God has created, completely controlled by Him, by Love. I needed to see this as unequivocal truth, regardless of appearances to the contrary, regardless of the universal conviction that man is nothing more than a sinful, fleshly being. I had to realize that God is always providing good for every one of His children; that crime has no basis in divine reality.
I realized that turning to God and listening for His direction would protect me. This was such a revelation to me. We really are safe when we understand that we, and everyone, are truly under God's government and when we listen in prayer for His healing, saving thoughts. The Bible is full of assurances of our safety. The psalms, for example, contain many promises of divine protection. We are told: ``Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.... Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.''3
Our exemption lies in making God our refuge and in living in harmony with His law. We don't have to be victimized by crime or by fear. If Love is what is real and supreme, evil can be exposed as powerless. Obviously, mankind has far to go before this is fully proved. But we begin to take genuine steps forward as we realize that evil is not the overwhelming force it claims to be. Science and Health states: ``We must learn that evil is the awful deception and unreality of existence. Evil is not supreme; good is not helpless; nor are the so-called laws of matter primary, and the law of Spirit secondary.''4 I saw that I did not have to reconcile two opposing views of man. Rather I needed to understand better and trust ``the law of Spirit,'' the law of Love. It may appear that the laws of matter are primary and that the world cannot escape danger and crime. But by holding firmly to what we know of God, we are able to prove, at least in some measure, that evil is a deception.
We are not helpless. Prayer is effective. Understanding ourselves to be under the law of Spirit, we are safe.
1The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2See Genesis 1:26. 3Psalms 91:5, 9, 10. 4Science and Health, p. 207. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. Proverbs 29:25