7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
Night: Darkness; Doubt; Fear
Mary Baker Eddy
. . . for man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.
Mary Baker Eddy
Ocean rescue – with a psalm at the helm
By Steve Berrie
From the December 12, 2011 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
* Photos – Courtesy of allposters.com
Late one night I received a call from my dad. He said that my brother had phoned him and was in trouble. He was out in the ocean in a friend’s boat and they had run out of gas. Dad said he first tried calling other friends with boats, but because of the late hour, no one could access them. One friend, who was very familiar with the waterways and could navigate through the inlet into the ocean in the dark, had offered to come. The reason I had been called last was because my boat was an antique 18-foot runabout with 45-year-old engines that usually stalled at low speeds and was never in the ocean. But of course, I prepared the boat and left to pick up Dad.
While waiting for Dad’s friend to arrive, my mom said she had been praying with a few verses from Psalm 139 in the Bible. We discussed the comfort, assurance, power, and presence of God that these verses brought out: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee” (verses 7–12). Mom and I agreed to keep in touch throughout this rescue mission.
On the way to the boat ramp, Dad explained that since my brother’s cellphone battery was low we would not be contacting him until we were out in the ocean.
I could see the powerful effects of prayer at work when we launched. The boat engines started right up and ran better than ever, no stalling, spitting, or sputtering. They were in sync and very responsive to throttle control, which is an important factor to maintain control through inlet currents. My dad’s friend (the skipper) was very impressed.
I looked out into the wavy ocean and there just seemed to be a thousand blinking lights everywhere I looked.
We reached the ocean after midnight, and my dad phoned my brother, but it went right to service. After repeated attempts it became obvious that his phone was out. I called my mom and explained the situation. We reaffirmed the Psalmist’s message of God’s ever-presence
and saving grace, and Mom said she would continue praying. My dad said that when he spoke to my brother a couple of hours before, they were south of the inlet and within a mile of the shore. They also said they would be flashing the boat lights so we could spot them.
The prospect of finding my brother and his friends became grim, but Mom and I were working metaphysically, beyond human reasoning. My dad and the skipper plotted a search pattern and began tacking, redirecting the boat. I looked out into the wavy ocean and there just seemed to be a thousand blinking lights everywhere I looked. Every wave was reflecting starlight, city lights, and our own boat lights. But I got still and prayed while dad and the skipper were doing their thing.
I put out of my thinking the fear, anxiety, and uncertainty that was trying to suggest this rescue mission could fail and my brother and his companion would be left in danger. These false suggestions were replaced with the peaceful assurance of God’s ever-presence and care, as the Psalmist so beautifully described.
After a while, I did notice a more distinct blinking among the rest. I pointed to it, but no one else could see it, so the skipper just followed my directing. As we got closer, the silhouette of a boat began to appear, and it was them. As we maneuvered close enough to communicate, I said to my brother’s friend: “Good thing you were flashing your lights.” He responded, “I haven’t flashed the lights for hours, I was afraid it would kill the battery.” Wow, the Psalmist was right, “even the night shall be light about me.”
We found my brother curled up on the floor, shivering, barely able to speak. He had fallen overboard, which also explained the loss of phone contact. The sea was a little rough, but we managed to get my brother into my boat, get him warmed up, and give gas cans to his friend. We got under way with both boats headed for shore, and I phoned my mom with the good news. The Psalmist was right, nothing can hide us from God, not even a dark sea. We were all very grateful. Through her writings, Mary Baker Eddy has shared the power of the Scriptures to meet every human need. My study of Christian Science has inspired a great love for the Bible and has given me a spiritual understanding that enables me to apply laws of Truth, Life, and Love that is God in my daily experience.
In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy gives the reader courage to navigate through life: “Acquaintance with the original texts, and willingness to give up human beliefs (established by hierarchies, and instigated sometimes by the worst passions of men), open the way for Christian Science to be understood, and make the Bible the chart of life, where the buoys and healing currents of Truth are pointed out” (p. 24). Next to this passage is the marginal heading “Life’s healing currents.” I am so grateful to be learning and proving this blessed truth.