SOME years ago I needed to go overseas to do some research. That meant a long, transatlantic trip would be my first airplane flight. I understood the basic physics of flying, but even so, the huge jet looked a lot heavier than the air that we all were expecting to carry it. As takeoff approached, I found myself feeling more than ``normally'' apprehensive. I felt that if I could overcome my own fear, perhaps this would be a contribution toward the trip. As a student of the Bible, I naturally thought of the many people described in that book who turned to God when they were afraid or in trouble. But there weren't airplanes in those days! Then I remembered Psalm 139, which speaks so eloquently of God's ever-presence.
The psalm held the answer for me: ``If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.'' To be reminded that no matter where I was, God would be with me was a rather nice thought for a transoceanic flight!
But there is more to prayer and turning to God than looking up a Bible verse and feeling comforted. Genuine prayer doesn't just comfort, it brings radical change to life. When we turn to God, we are really reaching out to the source of all power. At times, it may not be evident how this power can help us out of a human problem. Yet through Christ this is possible. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says of Christ, ``Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness.''1
This divine message tells us that in truth we are spiritual and loved of God, that we can never be separated from Him. As His children, our purpose is to express Him. We include only His qualities -- such as truth, joy, intelligence, wisdom, goodness. And this is the fact for all of us.
So, if we are in a plane waiting for takeoff -- or on the verge of any new venture -- we can pray to know that God, divine Mind, is present and governing. We can also understand that because man is made in God's likeness, he must express only what is true of God. This means we can expect to see intelligence and wisdom, as well as love and joy, expressed around us before, during, and after the flight. And of course we can express these qualities ourselves.
A simple illustration of this occurred when a woman I know was on a plane that had to land unexpectedly. There was no obvious danger, but the passengers, including a little girl near this woman were disturbed. The woman took time to speak kindly to the girl and comfort her. This generous gesture was an illustration of the effect Christ can have on us. It helps us to see beyond our personal concerns to the needs of others. As the passengers learned later, a bomb threat had been made against the plane and the purpose of the landing was to remove the suspected cargo.
Whether we actually have an opportunity to help someone or not, through the influence of Christ we can actively resist fear and negativism ourselves. The prayer that is based on an understanding of God as Love and as Mind helps us to feel God's presence, guiding and protecting us. The knowledge that we are in truth completely spiritual helps us to feel less vulnerable to fear and to feel more secure in God's care.
I know that it was Christ that guided me to the Bible verse that helped me overcome my initial fear of flying. The way Christ speaks to our hearts may change, depending on the circumstances, but the message is there for each of us, wherever we are.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 332.