Many years ago, I taught overseas on an island. Living as an immigrant in a foreign country, I was required to renew my work permit annually. I really enjoyed the various opportunities I had there to contribute my talents and abilities and to serve unselfishly. Because my employers were happy with the work I was doing, the renewal process for the permit was straightforward and harmonious.
But one year the department of immigration denied my work permit without explanation. The school board appealed the decision, and the work permit was renewed. Unfortunately, the denial caused a delay in getting the permit stamped in my passport before I left the country for the summer. As an accommodation, the authorities issued me a travel letter that would allow me to reenter legally.
Toward the end of the summer, as I was preparing to return, I was feeling uneasy and afraid. Even though I had a travel letter, I had heard that immigration procedures on the island could get complicated if expatriate workers had not had their passports stamped for reentry before leaving the country.
Yearning to find a sense of peace, I reached out in prayer to God, divine Love, to feel His tender, loving presence and the assurance that all was well. I asked a Christian Science practitioner (someone who is engaged full time in the healing ministry of Christian Science) to help me pray about the situation. The practitioner and I discussed the 23rd Psalm, which speaks to how God cares for us as tenderly as a shepherd cares for his flock.
“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, shares a spiritual sense of this psalm. The first line reads, “[Divine love] is my shepherd; I shall not want.” I loved the idea of God, divine Love, as my Shepherd, a wise and intelligent presence governing all creation harmoniously and meeting our needs. The last verse says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [Love] for ever” (p. 578). Because the consciousness of divine Love, the only true consciousness, includes the whole universe, each of us has the ability to feel that Love, wherever we may be.
I held fast to the idea that the consciousness of Love is all that “awaited” me. As I became more and more convinced that this spiritual fact was the reality, the fear that once dominated my thought lessened until it disappeared.
On the day of my flight, I joyfully acknowledged that the consciousness of Love was truly awaiting me. When it was my turn to have my documents processed, the officer welcomed me, and the entry procedure was harmonious. To me this was wonderful evidence that God’s love and power are indeed present to govern every moment.
This work arrangement lasted five years. I later worked for another school system and applied to the immigration department for permanent resident status, which was granted within two years. In my case, the process now felt complete, because as a resident I enjoyed work and travel freedoms that I hadn’t had before. In a sense, I felt that I was a “citizen of the world.” As Science and Health encourages, “Citizens of the world, accept the ‘glorious liberty of the children of God,’ and be free! This is your divine right” (p. 227).
Freedom to experience the consciousness of infinite Love is the divine right of each of us. These words from the “Christian Science Hymnal” give such assurance of God’s dear love for all His children:
O perfect Life, in Thy completeness held,
None can beyond Thy omnipresence stray;
Safe in Thy Love, we live and sing alway
(No. 66, Violet Hay, ©CSBD)
Adapted from an article published in the Feb. 20, 2017, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.