God, love, and safety
A Christian Science perspective: Are prayer and protection linked?
One of my co-workers was once placed in a very dangerous situation while on the job. As word spread, so did concern. It wasn’t long before colleagues began a lengthy conversation about safety. People wondered whether their safety could actually be guaranteed and what they could do for protection.
After the conversation was exhausted, one friend asked me if I felt safe and how I protect myself. I was happy to provide a sincere and heartfelt response. I explained that my greatest assurance of safety was to trust in God. She wanted to know how I did that. I shared my understanding that God is always caring for each of us as His image and likeness and noted that the Bible proclaims that “God is Love” (I John 4:8). I helped her to see that God was ever present and that I felt the safest when I kept Him in the forefront of my thought.
You might be anticipating her next question – and how do you do that? I elaborated that as a Christian Scientist I was constantly benefited by following the example of Christ Jesus. The more love I expressed to others as God’s loved children, the closer I felt to God, who is omnipotent Love. And the closer I felt to God, the more I could entrust myself and others to His protective care. Even though my approach may have seemed radical, she followed this line of thinking and wondered if there could be something to trusting God and what the possible outcomes of kinder thoughts and actions could be.
The fundamental truths in the Bible lay a strong foundation for gaining a better understanding of this. For instance, in addition to the fact that God is love, the Scriptures also avow that “there is no power but of God” (Romans 13:1). We can, therefore, logically conclude that our greatest protection comes from knowing God and expressing His love.
To illustrate, I’d like to share an account of someone who turned to God to learn how to love more, and the effect that it had. This woman lived in a neighborhood where, for more than a decade, two rival gangs used her garage doors as a billboard to send hateful messages to one another. One day when she came home during lunch, gang members armed with paint were on her property, all the way up to the front door. As frightening and infuriating as this was, she reached out to God. In sharing this healing experience, she wrote: “I couldn’t be made to label the labelers. I couldn’t let public opinion – those who feel labeled or those who do the labeling – influence me. As the warmth of the sun melts ice, God’s love was strong enough to melt this evidence of hatred. I could love more!” She goes on to say: “A sense of compassion for each one of them surged within me. Even if they didn’t realize their spiritual nature, I could! I had to deny every false trait attaching itself to these kids. I couldn’t let them convince me (regardless of what was going on in front of me) that they didn’t have God’s goodness within them. They had a right to be seen in the correct light. Someone had to care enough to know that they could be seen this way. Someone had to pray.”
Her prayer brought significant results. The paint was removed by the time she got home from work that day, the PTA started a project to beautify the neighborhood that even gained media coverage, and from that time on, her property remained free of the gangs and graffiti. “Look what prayer can accomplish!” she exclaimed, and then added, “through a moment of spiritual insight – a moment to love more deeply, more purely, more humbly – I witnessed God’s power to heal” (see “When we care enough to pray,” Christian Science Sentinel).
Each of us can look to God for protection. Every upright, spiritual thought about God and our fellow man – regardless of who they are or what they humanly represent – will make a difference in keeping ourselves and others safe.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, speaks to this connection between God, love, and safety in the first two stanzas of her poem titled “Mother’s Evening Prayer” (“Poems,” p. 4):
O gentle presence, peace and joy and power;
O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour,
Thou Love that guards the nestling’s faltering flight!
Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight.
Love is our refuge; only with mine eye
Can I behold the snare, the pit, the fall:
His habitation high is here, and nigh,
His arm encircles me, and mine, and all.”