Who's in control, anyway?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

During hurricane season two years ago, I was traveling in an airplane over the North Atlantic. During our ascent the air was clear and smooth, but as we reached our cruising altitude, the captain came on the intercom with some unsettling news. He told us to look out to our west at a large mass of clouds that represented a hurricane traveling up the East Coast of the United States, and since that was our destination, he said he wasn't sure just what to do, but he would get back to us.

The woman next to me immediately panicked. She started yelling, loud enough for everyone on the plane to hear: "This plane is going down! I know it! I can feel it! This plane is going down!"

This was not the message people wanted to hear at that moment.

I knew I had to do something about it, but first I sat quietly for just a minute. I've learned that fear can't control us when we acknowledge and feel the power and presence of God.

I placed my hand gently on her arm and said with authority: "God is in control of this plane. God is in control of this plane and the entire universe; therefore, we are all safe. Nothing is going to happen to this plane. We are not going down."

Pretty soon the woman relaxed from her frozen posture, and eventually she turned, looked me in the eye, and said, "You know, you're right, and I can feel that now. God is in control and nothing is going to happen to us."

She spent the remainder of the trip happily chatting with the family in front of her, whom she discovered she knew from back home. The pilot found his way around the storm, and we completed our journey safely.

As I settled back into my window seat, I thought about that affirmation of God's control. Just how did I know that was true? Isn't the world a dangerous place, full of storms, wars, terrorists? I could see that on a human level control is a complicated concept and is connected to many factors, ranging from individual physical and psychological disorders to family tumult, political tyranny, and natural disasters. But I instinctively knew I was not going to find any satisfying solution by delving into these dimensions of control.

So I turned to a spiritual perspective. My resources were the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy. Now my thought was engaged in something tangible and calming. "My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth" (Ps. 121:2), "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork" (Ps. 19:1).

And then these important points from Science and Health: "Without divine control there is discord, manifest as sin, sickness, and death" (page 400), and "All is under the control of the one Mind, even God" (page 544).

I could see, too, that the problem was rooted in the idea that there are two opposing powers, and that at times we can be affected by either or both. But then I could see and accept that God is absolute, supreme, final, complete.

He doesn't share His power and influence with another competing force. Evil power appears to be real, but the truth about God and His creation is intact and has been revealed. This rescuing lifeline is available to everyone all over the globe.

Since that day flying high over those storm clouds, I have put this lesson about control into play in many aspects of my life, in business and personal situations, in church, in my prayer for the world. I have tried to stop thinking that I am in control even of my own circumstances or that I could be motivated to control others.

This allows me a better view from which to pray for the broader community to affirm that God is in control and that nothing - no action, thought, political movement, organization, environment - is beyond His control. Every spiritual idea is formed and maintained by God and responds to the one Mind.

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