BUSHFIRES had been raging on the outskirts of our communities and now had begun to move toward our homes. ''I hope you are praying Mum?'' My daughter's voice over the telephone was filled with urgency and fear. I reassured her immediately. Prayer was the only answer to the situation that was facing us both at that moment. Television reports were presenting graphic pictures of the destructive force of the fires. One public official predicted that thousands of homes would be lost.
Only the power of prayer could counteract the fear and horror that were spreading throughout the communities in the path of the fire. As I prayed, I turned to the Bible, where I found the story of the prophet Elijah. When his life was threatened by Queen Jezebel, Elijah fled into the wilderness. There he learned that God was not in the wind, earthquake, or fire but was, First Kings tells us, found by listening to ''a still small voice'' (19:12). What he heard enabled Elijah to return and continue with the work God had given him to do.
How could the still, small voice bring peace to the situation that was surrounding us? The blood-red, smoke-filled sky, the noise of the wind whipping through the trees, presented a force that appeared to be all-powerful. But then I thought of the Master, Christ Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark we are told of one particular situation when Jesus confronted a great storm. The Bible records that he ''rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm'' (4:39). Jesus knew the power of the presence of God. He listened only to the still, small voice that revealed the Truth of God's absolute control of His creation. Wind and waves had to respond by giving evidence of the calm and peaceful nature of such Christly thought.
As I prayed to understand these ideas more clearly, I saw that I needed to follow Jesus' example and listen only to the ''still small voice''--not to the noise and confusion around me. My desire to do this was strengthened by a statement in a book by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, titled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It's where she writes: ''The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, 'as when a lion roareth.' It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear'' (p. 559).
The truth is that God, the only creator, reigns supreme over all the universe. His power is unlimited and includes the safety and security of man and every living thing. There is no opposite power or blind force of matter that can take away or destroy life. Everything is under God's loving control.
I realized that this truth was true not only for me but for everyone. No one could be separated from its benign and loving influence. It could be recognized through the qualities of the Christ protecting all those who were fighting the fire. It was guarding and guiding, and its presence ensured that only good was going on.
And that is exactly what we saw happen next. First, reports of the great good that was taking place began to come in. We heard how homes and lives were saved. The pictures on the television changed to show more of the wonderful qualities of the Christ, and the power of the still, small voice, meeting the threat of the fire. Love, care, strength, courage, and compassion were putting out the flames.
I know I was not the only one praying on this occasion. All the communities bonded together in a spirit of love that had not been witnessed for a long time. Over and over again it was acknowledged that a miracle had happened when a house was saved or a life protected. The power of God was being recognized, brotherhood was evidenced, and the fires were extinguished!
And Moses said,
I will now turn aside,
and see this great sight,
why the bush is not burnt.
And . . . God called unto him
out of the midst of the bush.
Exodus 3:3, 4