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Help in an emergency

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

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The tragic shootings in a shopping mall a few weeks ago in Omaha, Neb., reminded me of an incident I witnessed while I was shopping in a mall in Kansas City, Mo., last summer.

I heard a yell, "He has a gun! Get out!" My 5-year-old daughter and I were at the back of a store, near the entrance into the mall, and I didn't know where the gunman was or where he was headed. As I clutched my daughter's hand, I wondered, should we stay still, hide, or run toward the exit?

Although there was little time, I reached out to God, asking what we should do. I listened, and the answer came that we should leave immediately. In a flash I knew the route to take. As we neared the front door, we heard gunshots behind us coming down the main aisle. We were able to exit the store quickly and safely.

I learned later that the shooting had begun across town and culminated at the mall, where two people in the parking lot were shot. The shots we heard were fired by police, who intercepted the gunman as he headed in our direction. We'd chosen the best route to exit, staying safe and avoiding a two-hour lockdown.

I was grateful, but I felt sad that others, including the gunman, were killed. Did God blink at that moment? Is God's protection for a chosen few? Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "Does Deity interpose in behalf of one worshipper, and not help another who offers the same measure of prayer?... In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as 'a very present help in trouble.' Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pp. 12-13).

That made sense. As a parent of two children, I wouldn't offer protection to one and not the other. Love doesn't have favorites. Like water filling an empty vessel, it floods in until all voids are filled.

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