Overcoming fear through understanding God
WE were boating off the coast of California when the engine suddenly caught fire. As the men on board grabbed fire extinguishers and covered the engine with foam, I found myself calmly putting life jackets on my own and other children on board. Since smoke was billowing out of our boat, other boats began to surround us. But what I felt most at that particular moment was that we were surrounded by divine Love, by the all-presence and all-power of God. I was not afraid.
The fire was put out, and none of us was injured. We made it back to shore, and I silently rejoiced in God's loving care for each of us. But my rejoicing went far beyond that, because I came to see how not to be afraid in times of crisis.
Several years before this I had been in the midst of a severe earthquake. Unable to look to others for help, because they were faced with the same situation, I realized a deep yearning to understand God better. I needed to understand God's complete control of His universe. If I really understood Him better, I reasoned, I would never again be so afraid.
As the weeks and months went by, I spent a great deal of time studying the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.1
The Bible is filled with accounts of God's all-power, saving and protecting during times of need. For instance, when the children of Israel were trapped between the Red Sea and their pursuing enemies, Moses' absolute faith in and discernment of God's presence and omnipotence saved them. ``Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.''2
One of the things that I cherished most about Moses' trust in God was that earlier chapters in the Bible had shown that he had a lot of learning to do, too. At one point he had said, ``Who am I, that I should...bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?''3
But each one of us really does have the ability to understand and trust God. Our consciousness can be enlightened when through prayer we are willing to yield our material view of creation to a perception of God's perfect spiritual universe. God knows that all that He has made is good, as the Bible tells us in its first chapter. A darkened, material sense of things would hide from us this perfect, spiritual creation and insist that man is nothing more than a vulnerable, fleshly being at the mercy of forces beyond his control. While it may seem evident that identity is synonymous with physicality and that God is distant, often unable or unwilling to avert suffering, this is a false sense of things. God is infinite good, and the man of His creating (which is our own true selfhood) is the expression of that good, a spiritual being, safe in His care. A clear glimpse of these facts can have a healing impact in our lives.
Actually, the spiritual understanding of God's all-power and nearness is already within our consciousness. It has never been absent; it is revealed as we yield in prayer to the light of spiritual reality.
When Christ Jesus was seen walking on the sea, his disciples cried out in fear. But Jesus assured them, ``Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.'' The account then tells us that Peter walked on the water toward Jesus but became afraid when he saw the strength of the wind, and he began to sink. Then Jesus ``stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?''4
In reality, the Christ is present in each individual consciousness to enlighten and save, to reveal the absolute supremacy of God. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes: ``Moral and spiritual might belong to Spirit, who holds the `wind in His fists;' and this teaching accords with Science and harmony. In Science, you can have no power opposed to God, and the physical senses must give up their false testimony.''5
God gave us dominion. It is our birthright. We have, then, the divine right to claim our true heritage and to prove it.
1The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2Exodus 14:21, 22. 3Exodus 3:11. 4See Matthew 14:25-32. 5Science and Health, p. 192. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. Psalms 118:6