I was living in the city, and loving it. My apartment was spacious, had lovely windows, and was very close to a large city park. Bookstores, great restaurants, and the art museum were all within walking distance.
But, like many city settings, there was also that other element: crime.
The homes surrounding mine were gracious and historically appealing, and periodically there would be reports of break-ins, purse snatchings, and drug dealing. Racial tensions were high, especially during the summer when crime waves seemed most prevalent; the warmth brought everyone outdoors, and tensions heated up. It was a lovely area, but sometimes a frightening one.
One night, I awoke just after 2:00 a.m. The apartment was quiet, but unaccountably, I was suddenly afraid. There had been a rash of break-ins recently, and I wondered if I was about to be the next victim. Should I get up and take a look around? I wasn't sure, so I did what I usually do in these situations. I reached out to God for assurance, direction, and the right idea to calm my fear and act properly.
The Bible is full of examples where fearful situations were overcome by turning to God. Daniel was safe, even though trapped in an enclosed space among ravenous lions. Paul was bitten by a poisonous viper, but shook off the snake without ill effect. Jesus was persecuted, maligned, arrested, and crucified. All these fear-inducing events were overcome by turning to God.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, quoted the Apostle John, " 'There is no fear in Love, but perfect Love casteth out fear' " ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 410). She then described this statement as an "inspired proclamation of Christian Science." This idea, that placing ourselves in the kingdom of divine Love because that's where God causes us to be - that's His universe - will annul the effects of fear.
Brotherhood, based in the knowledge that we all come from one God, destroys fear of one another, and so promotes communication and bonds between former enemies. God's unerring control over His creation gives us courage to meet the fearful predictions of floods, earthquakes, and a flu pandemic.
In my own case, the word that occurred to me that night was "identity." As I stilled myself in the dark, and continued to listen - not for potential intruders, but for the truths from God that would overcome my fear - I thought about everyone in the neighborhood as members of one family, headed by God.
I loved embracing everyone who came to my thought in the light of this love. Further, I realized that because God is the Father and Mother of everyone and loves each of us, He would never withhold goodness from anyone. We all have an abundance of love and the right ideas that flow from that.
The next morning, my neighbor showed me the fresh marks around the windows along the back stairway. Someone had tried to break in during the night. But I had already seen the truth. Perfect Love had cast out my fear, and, I added, fear's aftereffects.
As the police were called and fingerprints taken, rather than feeling violated, I felt love for the person who, I trusted, responded to God's presence. As I looked at the fresh pry marks, I was grateful that we'd both been protected. And, I hoped, that person had been shown a different door to open, one filled with things worth much more than material treasures.
The Lord will command his
lovingkindness in the daytime,
and in the night
his song shall be with me,
and my prayer
unto the God of my life.