Children: safe away from home
A Christian Science perspective on daily life.
June 15. A teenage girl goes to sea, participating in a wilderness program for young people. She'll help sail a 120-foot, tall-masted schooner on a three-week voyage on the open ocean. She has no sailing experience, but will be instructed in all aspects of running the ship, and will be expected to help with even challenging tasks such as climbing the rigging to set and strike the sails. Her mom and dad hug her good-bye, joyfully anticipating a wonderful experience for her and promising to pray for her every day. Her mother reminds her of a verse from the Bible: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13).
June 22. The girl's father tries to get information on how the trip is going, but there's no news. Her mother remains unconcerned, confident of their daughter's safety. She has an abiding trust that wherever her daughter is, God is there, too, shepherding her – protecting, guiding, and sustaining her. She knows this divine Love to be a constant – an ever-present Principle – that will be there for her daughter in any kind of trouble. The Bible says, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1).
Her mother has seen proof of this before. Several years ago, for example, her college-age son drove cross-country with a load of expensive music equipment in the back of his pickup truck. During his trip, late one evening, the mother experienced something unusual. Thoughts of God's care for her son began to wash into her consciousness without any initiative on her part. Thoughts of his inseparability from God – from divine Life and Love – and of God's deep love for him. Wave after wave of these holy ideas kept coming for an hour or two, gently but persistently. The mother cherished these thoughts, in awe of what she recognized as angel messages. Finally, when the mother was completely at peace about her son's safety, the thoughts subsided.
Later, she learned that her son's truck had broken down. It was towed to a garage where it would be repaired the next morning. Not wanting to leave his music equipment unattended, the young man decided to spend the night in the truck. He was in an apparently rough part of town, and at first he couldn't sleep for uneasiness. But after a while, he felt at peace, and the night passed without incident. He also told his mother that his dog affectionately licked him all night! His mother believed that the peace her son felt was a reflection of divine Love's presence and care for him.
July 5. The sea voyage is over. The girl is back on land. She greets her parents with smiles and tales of adventure. She did climb the rigging, assign tasks as watch leader, and acquire skill as a helmsman. There's a new confidence in her expression. She tells about a squall when lightning struck within a tenth of a mile from the ship. The mother thanks God, with no thought of what might have happened. Later, the mother asks, "Was there a time when you felt God's presence?"
"Oh, yeah, the entire trip," the daughter replies.
A favorite psalm reads: "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me" (139:7-10).
And Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, wrote: "God is universal; confined to no spot, defined by no dogma, appropriated by no sect. Not more to one than to all, is God demonstrable as divine Life, Truth, and Love; and His people are they that reflect Him – that reflect Love. Again, this infinite Principle, with its universal manifestation, is all that really is or can be; hence God is our Shepherd. He guards, guides, feeds, and folds the sheep of His pasture; and their ears are attuned to His call. In the words of the loving disciple, 'My sheep hear my voice, … and they follow me; … neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand' " ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," pp. 150-151).
Affirming this diligently for children, we can do a lot toward making their safety seen and felt.