THE fiftieth anniversary of the June 6, 1944, World War II Allied invasion of France is an appropriate occasion to recall some of my own experiences in that campaign to liberate occupied Europe. I was serving on the crew of a heavy bomber, and almost all of our assigned targets lay well within the territory occupied by the opposing forces.
One mission in particular has always stood out to me as a prime example of the guidance and protecting power that God confers on His children. Our plane had just completed the bomb run. As we were turning away from the target area, our plane was struck by an antiaircraft shell. The impact threw us out of the squadron formation and we lost much of our altitude. Dropping away from our squadron in this way, we no longer had the protecting firepower of the rest of the planes in the formation. The pilot was able to right the plane, even though some control surfaces were badly damaged and one of the aircraft engines was inoperative.
By this time we were alone and temporarily lost over enemy territory--easy prey to hostile fighter aircraft. I was really scared! So much so that I was perspiring freely and had to turn off my electrically heated flight suit. I had been a student in the Christian Science Sunday School, however, and I knew that I could rely on God in this moment of desperate need for myself and my fellow crew members. From the example of the life of Christ Jesus, I also knew that total reliance on divine Spirit is safe and effective.
I reached out completely and wholeheartedly to God in prayer. The thought that came to me was the opening of Mary Baker Eddy's poem ```Feed My Sheep.''' It reads: ``Shepherd, show me how to go / O'er the hillside steep . . .'' (Poems, p. 14). Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. In that moment I felt bathed in the spiritual light and warmth of that message of God's presence.
In the next moment a friendly fighter plane flew in beside us and, seeing our plight, radioed to us to follow him and he would lead us to another American bomber formation that was returning to England. We were soon ``tucked in'' with that group and on our way. The White Cliffs of Dover were an especially magnificent sight. Although our damaged plane required the entire runway to come to a stop, we made a safe landing.
Neither fear nor chance plays any part in man's well being. God's power to protect and deliver us is always present. In my prayer I had gained a clearer realization of the Psalmist's assurance ``He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty'' (Psalms 91:1).
Mrs. Eddy points out in her book The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany: ``Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited'' (p. 210). The realization of the truth in that statement indeed proved to be an armor for us all. Even though there were other missions, and other tense moments, there was never again a time when I was so terrified that I could not feel God's presence enfolding each and every member of the crew. Furthermore, I can truly say that I did not experience a sense of hatred toward our adversaries.
The foregoing experience has always meant a great deal to me for the immediate answer to earnest and heartfelt prayer. And the protection we experienced gave tangible proof of the Biblical assurance that God's power is at hand to deliver in any situation, even when we are terribly frightened.