You may know Ashley Smith's story - "how a young mother talked down a troubled man with courage, levelheadedness, and faith in prayer after he had allegedly killed a judge, a court reporter, and two security officers" (The Christian Science Monitor, March 16).
After being taken hostage by Brian Nichols, Smith asked him if she could read some excerpts to him from the bestselling book, "The Purpose-Driven Life" by Rick Warren. She read a passage that begins, "We serve God by serving others." Nichols asked her to reread it. She told him that his escape from the courthouse was a miracle and that he had a mission: "You need to go to prison and you need to share the word of God with them, with all the prisoners there."
Smith said that Nichols told her that she was "an angel sent from God. And that I was his sister and he was my brother in Christ. And that he was lost and God led him right to me to tell him that he had hurt a lot of people." He released Smith and peacefully surrendered to police.
Although the ways most of us contribute to our community are not so dramatic, each one of us has a vital role to play, something good to give every day. God has made all of us useful. The Bible says: "I have created him for my glory, I have formed him" (Isa. 43:7). And that God has "called us with an holy calling ... according to his own purpose and grace" (II Tim. 1:9).
But when we're feeling alone and alienated, it may seem that we don't have a mission, a reason for living. In fact, to believe that we have an important mission may seem presumptuous, perhaps even ridiculous.
But we do have a mission because it's God who has given us our worth. Awakening to our worth is possible because it's what God, who is Love itself, wants for each one of His children. The first step out of darkness is being willing to turn to God and to have the humility to ask Him for help.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, described this kind of turning in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love. Then we begin to learn Life in divine Science" (page 322).
Several years ago when I was suffering from depression, I felt abandoned by God. I was sure He'd forgotten about me. Trying to convince myself that I was worthwhile, that I did have a reason for living, didn't help. I needed help beyond myself or what another person could give me. I needed God. When I became desperate for an answer, I became humbler and more open to God's love. I dropped much of my anger, complaining, and ingratitude, and asked God to show me the way, His way. And when I did, I felt more of His love for me.
I found out that divine Love, God, hadn't left me; Love was right with me. I began to understand that my worth didn't come from other people, situations, or money; it came directly from my Creator. As I listened to God for a new view of my life, I found it. And I discovered a path that led out of the darkness to the light. It didn't happen all at once; but after I stopped resisting God, I made steady progress and eventually found freedom.
Spirit created us to express Him; we're made in His image and likeness. The Bible says: "The fruit of the Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, meekness, humility, self-control.... Against such things there is no law" (Gal. 5:22, 23, Amplified Bible).
"Against such there is no law." What God has made in us is more powerful than anything. No amount of darkness, confusion, or fear can stop us from finding our God-made identity. Mrs. Eddy wrote: "How shall we reach our true selves? Through Love" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," page 104).
Through God's love we find the strength, humility, and willingness to yield to - to agree with - God's view of us that we are worthy, that we are the evidence of God. God needs us, and others do, too.
My prayer for those who feel lost is that they feel the presence of divine Love, God. Love speaks to each one of us, giving us a reason to know deep within that we are needed. And that's why we can find our mission and the peace and satisfaction that go with it.