As a college student, I lived in an apartment building on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, Russia. It was a 15-minute walk from my apartment to the nearest subway stop, which was next to a casino frequented by members of an organized crime syndicate. There had also been a recent citywide surge in kidnappings of young women off the streets.
One night, I decided to walk home from the subway instead of wait for the bus, which ran irregularly at that hour. As I walked down the sidewalk, a car slowed down and began following me, its headlights shining on me before stopping. Then a door opened and closed, and I heard footsteps behind me on the sidewalk as the car resumed following me.
In that urgent moment, I did what I have always done in the midst of an unsafe or frightening situation: I prayed to God. I remembered a Bible passage that I had learned as a child in the Christian Science Sunday School: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalms 23:4).
This reminded me that God keeps all of us, His loved spiritual creation, safe at all times.
Another favorite Bible verse reads, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]” (Psalms 91:1, Amplified Bible, Classic Edition).
This “secret place of the Most High” isn’t a faraway physical location or distant place called heaven. It is an understanding of our unbreakable relation to God. We are God’s beloved spiritual children, made in His image. This means that we can never be separated from God.
At that moment, acknowledging God’s ever-present, loving care gave me confidence that I was safe. It was a simple prayer but brought powerful results. I immediately felt God’s comforting and protecting presence with me. After a moment or so, I heard the car stop again, a door opened and closed, and then the car drove off.
The rest of the time I was in Russia, I never faced another situation like this – nor have I in the many other places around the world I’ve traveled in the years since.
Given news reports, it can seem hard to go anywhere and feel safe. But this experience has stood as a touchstone for me, reminding me that it is possible for all of us to feel and be safe even in the midst of danger. God, good, is ever present, guarding, guiding, and caring for all of us.