Sometimes we find ourselves in difficult, even overwhelming situations, and while we are busy sorting out the problem, we may feel a distance between us and God. But this is only our perception, not the reality.
When we first got married, my husband and I took a day trip by canoe. There had been a lot of recent rain so the river was high and flowing fast. We each had a bit of canoeing experience, but not together.
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Soon we found ourselves working against each other. Frustration and annoyance grew. After several misadventures, we encountered rapids. We didn’t sail well. In fact, we completely lost control and the canoe capsized, throwing us both into very cold water.
As I struggled to find footing, I realized that my wedding ring had slipped off my finger. I came out of the water in a panic exclaiming “I lost my ring!” However, the next moment, this thought came to me as clearly as if someone had spoken it: “BE QUIET!
I took this as a message directly from God to me. So I stood in the middle of the river and closed my eyes. I turned with all my heart to God in order to feel his presence and his power at that moment. When I felt a sense of peace, I opened my eyes and looked into the clear water at my feet. There, a little further, I put my ring on a small piece of sand in this field of rocks.
The words “be quiet” come from Psalm 46:10. “Be quiet, and know that I am God, . . .”
This is actually a two-part instruction. Standing still in this river was the first step. The second was to turn obediently to God to affirm his presence in my life. It was prayer.
Christ Jesus instructs: “. . . when you pray, go to your room and close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you,” Matthew 6:6. Of course, Jesus did not mean that effective prayer could only take place in your room or even that God would only hear our prayer in a certain place.
The founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, developed this topic in her major work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.”
“To enter into the heart of prayer, the door of the bewildered senses must be closed. Lips must be mute and materialism silent so that man can have audience with the Spirit, the divine Principle, Love, which destroys all error.
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Now freaking out, I definitely would have stirred up some debris to obscure the water, maybe moved some rocks or covered the ring with that sand. Closing the door to the fears that were surging, silencing my immediate reaction, and then waiting to feel the universal love of God, and knowing that it would have a practical effect, was a much more effective way to meet the challenge. The reward was crystal clear water and a cloudless thought to see this ring.
It was a double blessing because the problem was more than a lost ring. It was also the discord between me and my husband. A deeper appreciation for what the ring symbolized came with a humble gratitude for finding it. We were able to end the day on a much happier note.
No matter where we are or how bad the circumstances are, God is always available to us. And all of us, as children of God, are able to hear his counsel and feel his love.
Lauren Harte is a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist and the Conejo Valley Interfaith Association which meets monthly and welcomes clergy and representatives of all faiths. She can be contacted at [email protected]