Safe at gunpoint

A Christian Science perspective.

Hearing reports last month of planned terrorist attacks that were averted reminded me of my years living in Belfast, Northern Ireland, when there was shooting and bombing almost every day for about 30 years. Through prayer I came to feel an impregnable sense of invincibility, a bulletproof fortitude, a sense of being invisible to evil, although there were times when fear threatened to intimidate me.

This prayerful sense was not based on some egotistical bravado or foolhardiness or good luck; it was based on learning more about God's laws of protection and safety, and leaning on those laws. Many stories in the Bible are based on divine protection – for example, Jonah rescued in the belly of a fish, Daniel safe in the lions' den, and the three young Hebrews unharmed in a fiery furnace. And the Bible includes many wonderful assurances of God's care, particularly Psalm 91, which is a favorite of mine: "Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;... nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.... For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." During those years I was once in a building when it was bombed and then collapsed around me, but I was not touched, except for dirt, dust, and a few scratches.

Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). All of God's laws are within the consciousness of each of us, and God's laws are ever operative, just as the principle of mathematics is forever functioning unspent, in beneficial ways, for the growth, well-being, and health of all life.

These laws of safety and protection are understandable, and we can see their operation in our lives. But how? Scientific prayer has a healing effect, and this prayer is a profound form of learning to listen to the voice within, God's voice, and putting out all fear or speculation. When we truly listen, we find direction, the right direction. As we realize the functionality of God's laws, acknowledge their operation, and rejoice in gratitude for their existence, this brings a healing force and energy into our lives, whether we are faced with war or terrorism, illness, or the loss of a job. God's laws are in the environment of solutions; they rescue us and bring us peace.

I was once confronted by terrorists in Northern Ireland, one pointing a submachine gun directly at me. And for a moment I thought, Am I going to be shot?

Then I remembered a question in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy: "Can a leaden bullet deprive a man of Life, – that is, of God, who is man's Life?" (p. 358). Also I thought, This man is just like me – the beloved child of God.

All fear left me. I felt at peace. I actually smiled. Suddenly the gunman put the gun away under his coat, and, shouting at the other youths, they all ran off. I gave thanks to God. And I also prayed that they could do no harm that day, nor be harmed themselves.

Also during Ireland's Troubles, as they were euphemistically called, I had several instances of feeling "invisible" – of walking through, out of, circumstances that appeared to be threatening. Those instances reminded me of Jesus walking through a threatening crowd without harm (see Luke 4:29, 30). I felt assured of my identity being spiritual, not tied to anything material. I felt comforted by God's protecting care.

God is Spirit, invisible to the material senses. The essence of our being is invisible to the material senses. We are spiritual. The more we recognize this fact and rejoice in it, the more harmony, balance, and safety we will experience in our lives. By acknowledging and cherishing God's laws of protection and freedom, we will find a peace, a security, a feeling of never being outside God's care.

As a psalm states, "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually" (119:117).

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