In Hutchinson, Kansas, in 2001, there was a crisis. Mid-morning, fiery geysers of gas and water began erupting throughout our city.
As mayor, I was notified immediately and raced downtown to our emergency operations center. Nobody knew how this was happening or how to stop it. Tragically, there were fatalities, buildings in the downtown were destroyed, and we had to put out an order to evacuate hundreds of homes in the affected areas. Yet what happened over the following days and weeks left me with no doubt about the truth of these words from the Bible: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1).
I am a lifelong Christian Scientist. Christian Science offers a scientific explanation of the words and works of Christ Jesus, who was the best healer the world ever knew. And Jesus taught his followers that they needed to be healers too by evidencing what he unreservedly proved, that God is “a very present help in trouble.” So as I was racing to get downtown, my thought went immediately to God, affirming that God is divine Mind, and that I and all the citizens are ideas of Mind, God’s children, lovingly cared for and protected, right now. It was a real test of spiritual resolve and faith to remain steadfast in knowing that there is, there can be, only one omnipotent, controlling power.
A Bible passage I thought a lot about at the time says: “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). Over the next few weeks, as my whole attention was on the well-being of our citizens, I held that promise close to my heart. I was committed to never losing sight that God was making a way in the wilderness and that I could see “rivers in the desert.” That I could witness how the divine consciousness was present and more powerful than the extreme material circumstances I was seeing around the clock.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, learned from Jesus’ ministry, as well as from her own experience, that Love is the answer to all human needs. In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she writes: “The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares” (p. 574). As powerful and violent as the material situation was that we were being presented with, I knew that divine Love, through angel thoughts, was present and more powerful than any evidence of discord. In my daily visits to citizens in improvised city shelters, I made it a point to let Love lead the way and to provide an honestly sympathetic, receptive ear to the needs and concerns of those I spoke with. And I visited our police and fire services in the field, as they worked around the clock, to learn what I could do to help.
Over a period of a few more days, discord was yielding to harmony. Wonderfully creative and inspired ideas about how to proceed found voice in the many committed and selflessly serving city employees. And those ideas led to solutions involving the state geological service, the United States Army, and even NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Explanations and solutions for this crisis came in rapid succession, many of the families were returned to their homes, and a newfound sense of community replaced fear and disruption. Love was prevailing, as it always does.
“God the Preserver of Man” is the subject of one of the weekly Bible Lessons in the “Christian Science Quarterly.” While evidence of this fundamental truth often seems scanty on the human scene, to the degree we stick with the spiritual facts we increasingly witness and discern more of the spiritual good that is always present. God enlightens human consciousness regarding the harmony of His creation. In reality, God, good, is All-in-all and there is no other power, no other presence. God governs, guards, and guides all right ideas, and these ideas meet every human need.
There’s a verse in the book of Malachi that states: “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye … are not consumed” (3:6). The more we know of God, the more we know of our true selves as His reflection. The more we know of God, the more we see His perfection and power being manifest in every aspect of our lives. The more we know of God, the greater our ability to understand and to bless our neighbors near and far through the spirit of Christ. This was proved in my experience in Kansas many years ago. I have learned that no crisis can paralyze us from turning wholeheartedly to God, our “very present help in trouble.”