An Invisible Presence in the Family
EVER felt that your family or someone in the family was guided safely through trouble by the invisible hand of God's love? I know I have felt this presence many times. That such a presence is active on our behalf is illustrated in many Bible stories. Consider the message in Genesis of God's love protecting Isaac when Abraham mistakenly believed that God required him to sacrifice Isaac, his son. Or, later, how this same love guided Abraham's family as they journeyed, looking ``for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.''1 Also, think of the divine influence that reconciled Joseph and his family. And, in the New Testament, the hand of God's love guided Mary, Joseph, and Jesus into Egypt.2
In these cases there were no human intermediaries. (And no talk shows or ``how-to'' books!) In fact, there was nothing, really, that the eyes and ears would have called tangible. What was felt was the very real, yet unseen, presence of God's love. As the book of Isaiah says, ``Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.''3
Individuals and families today can just as surely look to God's presence for guidance and love. But like anything else, this is best done as cultivated daily practice rather than as a last resort.
That tendency to look for a dramatic surge of divine guidance (the last-resort approach) can point to a mistaken sense of God's nature. Because God is infinite Spirit, He is always present. This presence, of course, isn't physical or bodily; it couldn't be infinite if it were, and it couldn't be God either. God is Spirit. He is actual and real. And our true selfhood as the expression of divine Spirit is spiritual, inseparable from His care.
Many understand God as Spirit. Yet it is sometimes more difficult to see that this presence -- far from being at the periphery of our lives -- is actually at the center of things. Sometimes we allow the rush of busy family life to fool us into thinking that God's presence is only to be ``used as needed.'' But the idea of a benign God who is watchful but neutral is not accurate. God, good -- like the light brightening a dark place -- is always present and active to dispel evil influences in an individual or family.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, proved for herself the truth of an ever-present, active God. She writes: ``Spirit blesses man, but man cannot `tell whence it cometh.' By it the sick are healed, the sorrowing are comforted, and the sinning are reformed. These are the effects of one universal God, the invisible good dwelling in eternal Science.''4
Of course, it's often not easy to keep sight of this spiritual fact -- that the invisible goodness of God is present. But prayer can help us and our family actually experience the effect of God's presence in the way Mrs. Eddy speaks of above.
This prayer need not be fancy. It can be wholehearted love for God's goodness and a silent affirmation of its supremacy. It can be a willingness to glorify even small evidences of His goodness in day-to-day life. Good is natural and right, so we don't need to be tentative in holding out for it. We don't need timidity, but we do need persistence. Knowing this indisputable fact -- that God is the ``invisible good'' dwelling in our midst -- gives us an effective basis for our prayers.
1Hebrews 11:10. 2See Genesis 50:15-21 and Matthew 2:13-15. 3Isaiah 30:21. 4Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 78.