IN the midst of wreckage, fires, and floods, it's not surprising people can feel lost, forsaken, hurt, bewildered. Compared to the vivid images of the recent earthquake that crushed so much of the infrastructure of southern California, the kingdom of God may seem far off. But, through the teachings of the Bible we can learn of God's all-embracing arms and be comforted, even in the chaotic aftermath of such a disaster.
When it seems that turmoil is all around, harmony and peace can be realized by understanding more clearly where the kingdom of God is. In the Bible, the book of Luke records Christ Jesus as saying, ``The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you'' (17:20, 21). God's kingdom, then, is found in a spiritual understanding of God and man.
Instead of blaming God for disasters, we can confidently turn to Him for help. I Kings assures us that God isn't the source of disaster, pointing out: ``A great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice'' (19:11, 12). It is God's voice that leads us out of danger and helps us reconstruct our lives.
I don't live in California, where the earthquake hit, although I did grow up there. I now live in what's called Tornado Alley. I've seen God's protection and guidance during so-called natural disasters. Recently we moved to an area that was unfamiliar to me. When strong winds and dark clouds came over our home, I didn't even think of the possibility of a tornado. I was on the telephone, talking with someone about how God was guiding each of His children. I felt peaceful, secure in God's love. At that moment I felt I had glimpsed something of the kingdom of heaven right at hand.
Later I was told that a tornado had passed over our neighborhood. It touched down just enough to blow out the windows of a nearby school, but none of the children were harmed. They had been in the middle of a practice tornado drill. This was wonderful evidence to me that God does care for His children. The more we come to understand this, the more we see that God is ever present and His kingdom is supreme.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Christian Science Church, writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``When speaking of God's children, not the children of men, Jesus said, `The kingdom of God is within you;' that is, Truth and Love reign in the real man, showing that man in God's image is unfallen and eternal'' (p. 476). God's man--that's you and me--is governed by God, by Truth and Love. As we turn to God and trust His unerring direction, our life changes for the better. Far from being wishful thinking, prayer helps us to see in practical ways that God is in control and good is manifest.
Jesus understood God's kingdom so fully that physical limi-tations bowed to God's government. He proved God's ever- presence when he stilled the storm and walked on the water.
No matter how devastating the difficulty, God's all-embracing power is governing. It is ever available. We, too, can trust God's ever-presence. Basing our actions on an improving perception of His power and presence brings the kingdom of God to light in our life. And we can feel His powerful goodness because we are safe in His arms.