On a boat ride off Lake Erieâ€™s Presque Isle, the tour guide joked that the gentle tug of the current, if unheeded, would eventually pull us over Niagara Falls. Some nervous laughter greeted the quip, but it would have taken an awful lot of aimless drifting to bring about that scary outcome: The Great Falls are 86 miles downstream from Presque Isle.
Still, the tour guideâ€™s idea of a gentle current ending in a thundering torrent got me thinking how small problems become big problems if they are ignored, much like a costly plumbing bill often begins with a tiny leak. The value of promptly addressing a small problem is seen in the old story of the Dutch boy who averts disaster by sticking his finger in a leaky dike.
So how do we address â€śbig problemsâ€ť in a world constantly at odds with itself? A world in which, according to most observers, God is either responsible for human suffering, ignores it, or has no power over it? Proving our divine dominion over earthly ills takes more than just discernment between right and wrong.
In â€śMiscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,â€ť Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, offers a helpful answer: â€śEvil is not something to fear and flee before, or that becomes more real when it is grappled with. Evil let alone grows more real, aggressive, and enlarges its claims; but, met with [Christian] Science, it can and will be mastered by Scienceâ€ť (p. 284). In other words, we can confidently face down evil â€“ fear, sickness, or lack â€“ with the knowledge that only that which God, good, creates has substance. As Iâ€™ve prayed with this understanding, Iâ€™ve felt the din of fear and doubt quiet, and Iâ€™ve heard the answer to the Psalmistâ€™s heartfelt inquiry: â€śWhat is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feetâ€ť (Psalms 8:4-6).
Our Creator has left nothing undone, and He has neither caused nor made anything unlike Himself. This means that whether error is a trickle, like latent feelings of envy, or engulfs a nation, like corruption or war, it cannot stand against the perfection of being. Our prayers enable us to quiet the fear that would keep us feeling separated from God. And once we recognize Godâ€™s presence, weâ€™re empowered to find spiritual solutions to these thorny problems. â€śHad Blondin believed it impossible to walk the rope over Niagaraâ€™s abyss of waters, he could never have done it,â€ť Mrs. Eddy notes in â€śScience and Health with Key to the Scriptures.â€ť â€śHis fear must have disappeared before his power of putting resolve into action could appearâ€ť (p. 199).
Prayer that moves mountains is the exquisite moment of divine consciousness that knows what God knows, that expresses and glorifies Him. When we deal quickly with the first spurious signs of error â€“ anger, fear, envy â€“ by not letting them gain a foothold in our thinking, we keep them from becoming â€śbig problems.â€ť And we find daily blessings instead of ceaseless woes.
Like a daisy pushing through the pavement to find the sun, we can find divine enlightenment in our God-empowered struggle from sense to Soul as troubles lose their concrete resistance. Knowing there is no real existence apart from God opens floodgates of heavenly blessings to guide us through lifeâ€™s confusing crosscurrents. Turning from matter to divine Mind to meet challenges dissolves the fear of danger â€“ whether close at hand or lurking downstream.
With God at the helm of thought, His palpable presence, the touch of the Christ, is too compelling to ignore.