Atheists love criticizing religion, and religious folks enjoy discussing how their spirits have been uplifted; however, very few people seem to want to hear about prayers actually being answered. Because of this, I normally don’t post this sort of thing. However, while at Marscon, I dreamt that I wrote this post. When I woke up, I thought: what the heck, why don’t I actually write it.
Sometimes people say that stories of wonder and magic are unrealistic. Because they never happen in real life.
But this isn’t true.
You just have to know where to look.
Below are just a few examples of real life stories where people lived the kind of experience that Superversive stories strive to imitate.
1) I answered my doorbell one day, and a nice-looking young man asked for some directions. I told him what he wanted to know, and as I turned to go back into the house, he shoved me forward into the entry, followed me inside, and slammed the door shut.
I found myself facing a pistol he had thrust at me. First he told me he wouldn't hurt me or my baby. Then he forced me into a back bedroom where he ordered, "Take off your clothes."
Stunned and horrified, I answered, "No, I can't do that. Please, let me talk with you."
"No!" He jerked at my blouse and gestured angrily with his gun. "Lady, you've got five to start undressing. One!"
No human means of protection or rescue was at hand, and I couldn't succeed in engaging him in some sort of dialogue through which I might dissuade him from his intentions. Our big collie was out "protecting" the back yard. My husband was at the office. And even if the man was bluffing with the gun, I could see no chance of overpowering him, since he was built like a football player.
Struggling to keep my thinking above hypnotic waves of fear, dismay, and hopelessness, I mentally gave myself—and my situation —up to God. I shook my head at the man's demand.
"God is my Life," I managed to say.
"No, He's not. Two!"
"Yes, He is." The strength was returning to my voice. "And He's your Life, too."
"God loves me, and God loves you."
"God is my Life. God is my Life.
I never heard him say "five," but I heard a click as he pulled the trigger, and the gun did not fire. The man smiled and shook his head in disbelief. He reached out and patted me on the head. Then he said in a subdued voice, "Lady, you're great. I'm sorry."
He turned and started to walk out, and as he did, I felt a tremendous surge of compassion and love for this individual, who perhaps had recognized something of the ever-presence of Christ, Truth.
"Wait," I called. "I have something for you."
He turned at the front door. "Lady, all I need is love."
"I want to help you." Taking copies of the Christian Science Quarterly and The Christian Science Monitor from the mail table, I gave them to him. "Here is something that will help you." He took them, apologized once more, and left the house.
Good Is Our Defense
CATHERINE F. HALEY
From the March 11, 1972 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
2) I work at an emergency center where 911 calls are answered. For some time I had been consistently trying to replace each claim of crisis with the calm trust that God is in control of His universe. One afternoon we received a call from a troubled young man who was threatening to kill himself. He had a gun and had already fired a shot inside his apartment. While officers were dispatched, he disconnected the telephone. In the flurry of activity that occurs with this type of call, there is little time for prayer. But I reached out with all my heart with the simple thought "God is in control of His universe; He loves that young man."
Within moments the young man called back extremely angry because he wanted to kill himself, but the gun was jammed. The situation was resolved peacefully, with no injuries to anyone. When the gun was brought into the station, tools were needed to extract the bullet—it had not merely jammed but was rendered absolutely inoperable!
Can prayer heal the world?
Diana Davis Butler
From the October 1999 issue of The Christian Science Journal
3) During the civil war in our country, Republic of Congo, criminality and insecurity spread. One time a friend and I were talking inside his shop. A man entered who seemed to be a customer checking spare parts for his car. To our great surprise, he pulled out a gun, which he aimed close to the temple of my friend, urging him to kneel down.
I moved forward, trying to reason with the guy. This made him furious. Straightway he turned his gun toward my forehead, asking me also to kneel down. I was silently praying, and in spite of the menaces, I was in peace. The first spiritual intuition that touched my thought was Moses' first commandment from the Bible: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." The second of his ten commands says, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing … Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them" (see Ex. 20:3-5).
…[I am removing the metaphysics and just keeping the events. If anyone wants to read the whole thing, let me know.]
The Science of Christ teaches that this individuality as created and governed by God is harmless. I kept on praying to see mentally only God's man present—not one with a gun intending to do harm.
Soon our aggressor changed in attitude. Even though his gun was still pointing to my face, I felt that his determination and fury were vanishing. He was not uttering menaces anymore, but he was expecting me to obey his orders.
I saw that to bow down to this gunman was like bowing to a "graven image," an idol. And I thought to myself, "What's attributing power to this gun? Was it the finger, the arm—or the carnal mind? And what is causing this man to act this way?" Christian Science teaches that man is governed by God, divine Love. The image of this Love cannot depart from the straight line of perfection, and that included this man.
Next I noticed a tinge of kindness in the voice of the man. He put down his gun and murmured, "Are you not afraid?" Then without any other word, he stepped aside and moved to the door. My friend stood up, and together we recovered our liberty.
protected at gunpoint
By Daniel Biwila
From the October 31, 2005 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
4) The young man pulled out a gun from his pocket and demanded money. The love I felt as I read the [Bible] Lesson that morning had stayed with me, and in that moment I felt a clear sense of protection. I handed my money to him but remained silent. He then stepped in closer, grabbed my arm, and put the gun to my head, stating that the gun was real and that he was not afraid to use it. “You’re not afraid of me, are you?” he said.
At that moment a thought from God came, telling me to say nothing. I said nothing. Still holding the gun pressed to the side of my head, the man demanded that I lie down on the floor. This time I could feel the gun pointed to the back of my head. But during the next few moments, I had an incredible feeling of peace as I realized that the Christ was present. I knew without hesitation and without a doubt that I was cared for and protected. I found myself quietly speaking these words: “God will not let you take my life.”
As I said that, out of the corner of my eye I saw the man stumble and fall backward into the wall, the gun falling out of his hand. He had been disarmed, and he looked terrified and shaken. He quickly got to his feet, reached out to pick up his gun, and ran out of the building. I immediately got up and went back upstairs to the store, where I called 911 and filed a police report.
Protected at gunpoint
By Candace Mann
From the Christian Science Sentinel – December 1, 2010
5) An experience about a year and a half ago brought to me a clearer realization of the truth of the statement in Science and Health (p. 469), "If mortals claimed no other Mind and accepted no other, sin would be unknown." Two men came into our place of business one evening and ordered some goods, but instead of paying for them leveled a gun at my husband. Looking round I saw the gun and what they were attempting to do. It came to me instantly that in reality there was no evil influence or power to impel them to rob us. I talked to them for a few moments, and they turned and left without taking anything. My husband and I were both very grateful for this proof of God's protecting power.
In September, 1908, I began the study of Christian Science,…
By Callie W. Dicken
From the June 23, 1928 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
6)London, 1976. I was on my way to the Underground station to catch a train to work, when a man stopped me and asked if I had seen anyone in the area matching my description. After showing me his International Criminal Police Organization identity card, he told me he was helping with the investigation of the current IRA bombing campaign targeting Underground stations. There had just been a bomb planted at the one nearby, he said, and a suspect matching my description had been spotted leaving the station. Now, it seemed, I was under suspicion of having planted the bomb.
My first reaction was to burst out laughing, as I am the most unlikely person ever to plant a bomb. But the man quickly gave me to understand that this was no laughing matter—that he was placing me under arrest and would be taking me to the local police station for questioning. He used every possible means to terrify me, and by now I was beginning to sense that I was in serious trouble.
I felt as though I was looking at the man through a cloud of black smoke, as though the smoke was the evil trying to impose itself on that man, when actually, in God's eyes, he was a blameless, innocent individual. I actually saw him as God's perfect creation, incapable of evil, and quite separate from the "smoke" that stood between us. The smoke alone was the problem—some belief in evil that needed to be dispelled.
The man then demanded to see proof of my identity, and, as I had none with me, took me back to my flat to get my passport. He examined it, bombarded me with questions, and then told me to kneel on the floor. I realized that I was in danger of being beaten at the very least if I did not do what he said, and fear began to breach my defenses. I reached out to God for help, and the man suddenly said that he was going to ring to see if I had a police record. While he did this, he had me stand against the wall with my hands above my head, and this reprieve allowed me to go back over the verse from Daniel, and affirm the truth of it. The fear disappeared at once, and I was again in complete control of my thinking.
The man said that he would have to ring back again in a couple of minutes to get the result. When he did so, he said that the police had confirmed that I did not have a criminal record, and that the person they were looking for had been apprehended. I was free to go. We left and walked back down the road toward the station together. He then went off in the direction of the police station, and I went on to work. The entire incident had taken just over an hour.
When I discussed the incident with the police, one of the detectives told me he'd just learned of two young women in a distant suburb who had been viciously attacked and beaten by a man claiming to be a police officer. Their stories mirrored my story exactly, except, of course, for the outcome.
Twenty-two other young women had been attacked by then, and all of them had been injured, most of them seriously. They told me that I was the only one that they could ask to identify the suspect, because all the other women were terrified at the thought of seeing him again. I went home very concerned, and realized that I had more praying to do.
On Tuesday morning the police phoned and asked me to again come and identify a suspect, and this time, it was the right person. He had, among other things, a number of false police identity cards in his possession. A detective showed me how these compared to his own, saying that they were so similar that no member of the public could be expected to tell the difference. The police asked the man whether he recognized me, and he answered that he did, saying, "She was the only one I couldn't touch." He confessed to all the attacks and was sent to prison.
OUT OF HARM'S WAY
From the October 2005 issue of The Christian Science Journal
For years, I wondered what happened in the mind of the criminal in these cases? It really puzzled me. There they were, going along, planning to commit rape or mayhem and…bam! Something gave.
What did it feel like from the inside?
Sometimes, we should be careful what we ask for.
We were rushing out the door, and we were late. The five year old was out the door, and I had the baby ready, but the Cherubim*, who was probably three or four, was just standing at the top of the stairs, not doing any of the things I needed him to do for us to go. He wasn’t even dressed.
We did not yet understand that he was autistic and that at fourteen, he would still not be talking much better than he did—or didn’t—at three. But we knew something was wrong. We were constantly praying for him, and having a CS practitioner pray for him. He may—even now—be the most prayed for boy in the state.
Usually, I was completely gentle with the Cherubim. But I was in a hurry, and I just lost it.
I grabbed him in his red one piece PJs and lay him on the ground, and I started screaming like a mad banshee. I shouted at him, asking why he didn’t listen to me, and why he never did what I asked him to do. I was as angry as I have ever been.
And he laughed. He looked at my angry contorted face, and he laughed happily.
He was laughing at me. For just a billionth of a millasecond, I was as furious as humanly possible. Then…
It was gone.
The anger just vanished. I wasn’t angry at all. One moment my thoughts had been red with anger. Then, there was nothing let but joy. We both laughed together. I helped him get dressed, and we left on our errand.
Now, when I read such testimonies, and I get to the part where the guy decided not to attack the woman and instead drove her home (I have read more than one like that), I don’t wonder what happened in his thoughts.
And that, folks, is what we want to do with our fiction.
Superversive stories, at their best, will do to their readers what prayer did in the testimonies above, what laughter did for my son:
Catch the darkness unaware and lift it out of itself into something higher, something glorious.
*–yes, we know that the word cherubim is plural. Thank you for your concern.