IT was deadline time. I urgently needed to find some materials at work, and even though I had been through the files many times, they simply were not there. A wave of self-condemnation swept over me. Why hadn't I been more careful? How could I be so stupid?
I realized that I had to pray. I needed to turn to God for help not just in connection with the papers but to perceive that my relation to Him was unbroken. Fear was keeping me from seeing my true, intelligent, uncondemned spiritual nature, and I knew I needed to affirm my unity with my divine Father so that I could give up the fear and hear God's direction. As I prayed fervently to know God's loving presence, I rejected the feelings of panic by declaring, "I am not afraid!"
At that particular moment, I felt a wave of peace wash over me, and things around me actually looked different because the haze of fear was gone. I glanced down at the papers in my hand, and I suddenly realized-even though I had already gone through them often-that they contained the very materials I needed.
What happened that day reminded me of the Biblical account of Hagar, who was alone with her son in the desert. Her water bottle was empty. She was terrified that the boy would die without water, and after sheltering him under a bush, she sat down to cry.
Right at this moment, she felt God's presence and with it a promise that He would care for her son. Genesis tells us what happened next: "And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad" (21:19, 20).
In different ways, and perhaps more than once, we have all had moments when fear or self-condemnation has kept us from seeing the presence of the all-loving God in our lives. We not only feel cut off from divine intelligence; we also feel like mortals, condemned to limitation, to mistakes, to disaster. Such suggestions would make us believe that we are indeed material beings and that God is unable or unwilling to help us in times of need.
In reality, however, an affirmation of our spirituality as the children of God is exactly what will open our eyes to God's goodness and presence. This is what happened when I was looking for the papers I mentioned earlier. I had had to stop thinking of myself as a material being who could be stupid and careless and to recognize my true nature as God's idea.
Each of us-no matter who or where -is actually the spiritual child of God. We are precious to our Maker, and we have the power to do good, not evil. When we are willing to trust this spiritual fact to even a small degree, it prevents us from being blinded by fear and the mental darkness of condemnation.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, gives a full explanation of God's love for man in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In it she speaks quite a bit about Christ Jesus and the examples he has given us through his selfless ministry to mankind. Speaking of Jesus' certainty of God's care for man, she writes, "He knew that matter had no life and that real Life is God; therefore he could no more be separated from his spiritual Life than God could be extinguished" (p. 51).
By turning to prayer instead of panic, all of us can know the intelligent presence of God in our own lives. Simply turning to Him as an all-loving Father is a good first step. And as we learn to trust Him to care for us, we can do more to perceive Him as the source of life, as the basis for intelligence, love, and purity. Understanding our unbreakable relation to Him, we find that exhibiting wisdom and goodness isn't a "fluke" or merely the result of having a "good day." It happens because God loves us and is always giving us the spiritual qualities and insights we need. Then, no matter what is going on in our lives, we can say with conviction, "I am not afraid!"