Recently, as I stood in line to board my plane at a busy European airport, the man next to me said, “I was on this plane two years ago, and it lost one of its engines.” Certainly that is not the sort of thing people like to hear before flying. But what most startled me was his explanation of the incident and how he came to terms with what was close to a catastrophe. He told those of us within ear shot, “In my culture, if God calls you to Him, then there is nothing you can do. If your time is up, what are you are going to say?”
While his question was rhetorical, I couldn’t help but consider what I have learned about God as Love from my study of the Bible and the example of Christ Jesus. Jesus showed the world that God is not only all-loving but the giver of life. Jesus said: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
To believe that we are cursed to suffer or that one’s time is up by a predetermined physical or supernatural law is a belief called fatalism. And it reminds me of the mythology of my ancient Greek ancestors to resign one’s destiny to the Fates.
The Fates were the three goddesses believed to hold the course of the lives of humanity, including life and death. It is recognized as an archaic belief system, but it is one that lingers in one form or another today – such as the suggestion that our experience is tied to good or bad luck, or even that our health is fated to a season of sickness.
But there is nothing in the Christianity Jesus taught and lived that supports either disease or death as coming from an all-loving God. Through raising the dying and dead back to life, including his own resurrection from death on the cross, Christ Jesus proved that we can utilize the divine power to preserve life, and that it is the will of God, our Father in heaven, that we do so.
“Our heavenly Father never destined mortals who seek for a better country to wander on the shores of time disappointed travellers, tossed to and fro by adverse circumstances, inevitably subject to sin, disease, and death,” wrote the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, in her “Message to The Mother Church for 1902” (p. 11).
Her discovery of the laws of God, illustrated in Jesus’ own healings, brings out the deep spiritual concepts within the Bible, including the idea that God alone governs man and the universe harmoniously. As His loved children, here to do good, we are able to move freely in life under God’s protection. I have found this truth about God, divine Love, governing our lives, to be effective in overcoming obstacles to smooth and safe travel.
That particular flight was smooth going until our landing. On the runway our plane careened back and forth causing some anxiety on board, but I remained calm. As I recalled the earlier remark of my fellow passenger, I was impelled to unequivocally deny a fatalistic view of life. I understood that disaster or death is not God’s will. Shortly after I prayed this way, the plane straightened out and stopped safely.
I find that the words of this psalm explain the divine protection available to all travelers – on land, air, or sea: “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.... They cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalms 107:23, 24, 28-31).
This has become a helpful prayer as I take time each day to thoughtfully consider its message that God alone determines our course. His will is what truly governs us, bringing peace, safety, and goodness wherever we travel and by whatever means. This lesson of God’s supreme care is always here to inspire and guide me and all my fellow travelers.