What’s more powerful than fire?

Whether the “fires” we’re faced with are literal or figurative, we can turn to God for inspiration that guides us safely through – no matter our age or location.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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One day when I was around 10 years old, my best friend and I were briefly home alone while my parents were at work. (This was not uncommon in those days.) My parents had always told me not to play with fire, but I decided to start a fire in the fireplace in the basement.

Unfortunately, I neglected to open the chimney flue. When my friend and I opened the door to go back downstairs after making a snack to enjoy in front of the fireplace, gray smoke billowed out of the basement into the kitchen.

I was terrified. I knew that starting a fire without my parents was wrong, and I didn’t know how to correct the situation I’d caused.

Then I thought of something from the Christian Science Sunday School I attended. My teacher always reminded the class that we could turn to God no matter what the circumstance and that we could expect results. So that’s what I did. I prayed a prayer I said each night before bed, written for little children by the discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy:

Father-Mother God,
Loving me, –
Guard me when I sleep;
Guide my little feet
Up to Thee.
(“Poems,” p. 69)

This brought the comforting assurance that God was right there with my friend and me, protecting, guarding, and guiding us.

There’s a story in the Bible of three men who were thrown into a fiery furnace as punishment because they worshiped God instead of the golden statue the king had set up. But God protected them. The New King James Version says that “the fire had no power” on their bodies; “the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them” (Daniel 3:27). They had been protected in this terrifying situation.

I reasoned that if those men could walk through and out of a furnace unscathed, then God could certainly protect my friend and me in this situation. I mentally thanked God for loving and watching over us and the rest of my family as well.

As I did this, I felt enveloped in love. I understood somehow that all would be well. God, divine Love, created us as His completely safe, loved, spiritual sons and daughters. No matter the human circumstances, we can lean on this spiritual fact and be receptive to the healing inspiration God sends to everyone.

That’s what happened to me that day. As I prayed, the terror left, and the steps we should take came to me as clearly as if someone were speaking directly to me. My friend also remained calm, and together we were able to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and my home. Nothing was lost. (Although I did, quite rightfully, get into trouble when my parents got home!)

Whether the “fires” we face are literal or figurative, divine protection and guidance are not exclusive to certain people or times. They are here with us all, constantly. Divine goodness, beauty, Life, and Love are forever intact, for they are spiritual and cannot be destroyed.

Mrs. Eddy’s book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” includes a glossary of metaphysical definitions of biblical terms. It defines “fire” as “fear; remorse; lust; hatred; destruction; affliction purifying and elevating man” (p. 586). It translates the physical concept of fire into corresponding qualities – which have no power to harm God’s creation. In fact, as we glimpse this spiritual reality that we are God’s creation, unhelpful mortal traits are destroyed.

For instance, in the case of those men in the Bible, their “fire experience” illustrated that characteristics such as deviousness, pride, and anger were not more powerful than God, good. In my case, my disobedient leanings were enduringly replaced with a humbler and more repentant attitude.

Such is the power of divine Love.

These ideas give me strength and courage to continue praying for guidance and healing for myself and others, no matter how harsh the material picture. Divine Love is the only legitimate power and not only protects and directs, but also renews, purifies, and cleanses, blessing all with its healing coolness and balm.

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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.

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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.

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