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God was not in the fire

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

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That message from the account in the Bible about the prophet Elijah came to me this morning as I looked out over the mountains and saw the blood-red smoke of one of two major wildfires currently deemed out of control here in eastern San Diego County.

In that story, Elijah had fled into the wilderness out of fear of his enemies and was hiding in a cave. Then God spoke to him, saying, "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice" (I Kings 19:11, 12).

Like many others living near these fires, I'm trying very hard to listen for that "still small voice" of God. I've come to love my little stone cottage at the base of a mountain covered with avocado groves. There's a spirit of community, of working together to conserve precious resources – especially water – in this small town. But, like many others who must face enormous "natural" disasters, I've been tempted to feel overwhelmed. If county, state, and federal firefighters can't get these fires under control, what can one individual do to help?

Perhaps the best answer any of us can come up with is: We can pray! I don't pretend that my prayers alone are going to stop the fires in their tracks. As the brave firefighters and rescue teams work to contain the blazes, many individuals are praying in their churches, mosques, and synagogues – or, like me, at home – affirming the presence and wisdom of one universal God. And I've learned through a long study of the Bible and of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who founded this newspaper, that prayer is truly "doing something." Prayer can lead to practical solutions.


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