No storm surge in God's presence

A Christian Science perspective.

We’ve all heard a lot about hurricanes, storm surges, winds, and the damage feared from them. The power of winds and waves can be intimidating to say the least.

In thinking about this recently, I was led to the Bible’s account of Jesus sleeping in the back of a ship at sea during a storm that was nearly inundating his boat (see Mark 4:36-41). The disciples came to him in fear, convinced they were going to die. But Jesus rebuked the storm and the wind-driven waves, and “there was a great calm” (verse 39). He was infinitely more impressed with the power of God than with the apparent power of the wind, and he trusted that power to govern his surroundings. He never weighed mortal circumstances in the balance with God’s presence and omnipotence.

What if we could talk with Christ Jesus about how to respond to an oncoming hurricane threatening shorelines and low-lying areas of a coastal city? Would he warn us or assure us? Undoubtedly, he would assure us. Hymn 37 from the “Christian Science Hymnal” aptly describes what his assurance to us might convey. The fourth verse reads,

“In vain the surge’s angry shock,
In vain the drifting sands;
Unharmed upon th’ eternal Rock,
The heavenly city stands.” (Samuel Johnson).

Foaming, angry waves can find no entry, and can do no damage, when we recognize that divine Love is actively embracing humanity. As we understand that God is All-in-all, we see that we’re embraced by divine Love wherever we are, and we’re assured that destructive activity from elements of nature have no real spiritual basis.

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, defined “wind” in part as “That which indicates the might of omnipotence and the movements of God’s spiritual government, encompassing all things” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 597). She saw that mortal circumstances could be overruled by the power of God. In one of her poems she wrote,

“Thus Truth engrounds me on the Rock
Upon, Life’s shore,
’Gainst which the winds and waves can shock,
Oh, nevermore.” (“Poems,” p. 12).

Early one summer evening my sister and I were driving home from a program we’d attended in another city. As we drove down a long, straight, two-lane rural road, we could see the skies darkening and turning a greenish-gray color. We had several more miles on the road with no turnoffs. As the storm approached us, the skies darkened so much that we needed headlights to see the road through the rain. The wind howled and debris started flying around us – a sure sign of a tornado. We didn’t know whether it was going to cross the road in front of us or behind us. Should we stop or speed up?

We started to pray the Lord’s Prayer together aloud, and continued following in the middle of a line of several cars. Suddenly we saw a light pole break on the side of the road several cars in front of us, electricity flashing as the wires snapped. In that light we could see the tornado cross the road in front of the lead car, four cars ahead of us. We slowed but did not stop. Not one car was hit with debris nor blown off the road. Then suddenly the skies began to lighten, and the clouds broke up. We were all safe.

Turning to God in prayer was natural to both my sister and me; and even though we were white-knuckled, our prayer was predicated on the trust that God was present to help us and others in the tornado’s path. He was ... and He did. The tornado damaged part of an old, unused hangar at the periphery of a large city airport a mile from where we were driving, but no other damage was reported. We were able to get through a nasty storm unharmed.

This experience showed me that there is no circumstance beyond God’s help and protection. We can always turn to God to find safety, no matter what the threat may be.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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