I was on a speaking tour in Florida years ago. One of my hosts shared how a prayerful response to an aggressive man with evil intent saved her from becoming a victim of crime.
She had been vacationing in Waikiki, Hawaii, when late one afternoon she decided to do some shopping on foot. She went alone.
While seeking out some unique shops she wanted to visit, she found herself walking through some deserted back streets. While crossing an alley, a man jumped out from a hiding place, pointed a gun at her and demands that she hand over her purse.
Without missing a beat, this woman looked the man in the eyes and said, “You don’t want to do this. You are a loved child of God.”
The man’s arm dropped to his side. He lost his desire to rob her. He turned and left.
In discussing how she could retain such poise and dominion under threat of harm, she went on to explain that it was a spiritual practice of hers to look for the child of God in other people.
By “looking for the child of God,” she meant that she prayerfully searched beyond the outward appearance of physical personality and any expression of anguish, to find the peaceful and loved child of God within.
I could see that she modeled Jesus Christ’s method of healing who instructed, “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly” (John 7:24, NLT).
Jesus had a practice of seeing beyond physical appearances to spiritual reality. When sick people came to him for help, he saw a healthy child of God within, and brought it out for them to see. When assailed by a man with an evil spirit, Jesus saw beyond the insanity displayed, to a sane person, and brought it out for that man to see (Mark 1:23-26). Jesus’ spiritual point of view transformed people for the better.
This new friend of mine had learned from Jesus Christ how to see beyond the physical appearance of others to a child of God, which in turn, helped them see it too.
With the robber in Waikiki, she saw past the picture of a threatening criminal to a man of God who was created to be kind, thoughtful, considerate, and law abiding. She told him his spiritual truth with authority, that he was a “loved child of God.”
She did not react to the evil displayed. She did not cower in fear. She saw a man worthy of love and capable of responding to love, and that’s what appeared before her eyes to a greater degree. Both were spared from becoming victims of crime.
Her story has inspired me to look for the child of God in others when they appear threatening or hard to get along with. I’m grateful to say that I’ve often seen the same type of character transformation for the better in them that she saw in the man with the gun.
She helped me learn an important rule for healing, that the good we see in others helps them see the same, and both people involved are better off.
Evan Mehlenbacher is a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science in Richland, and a member of the Christian Science Church on Burden Blvd., in Pasco. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 4253 W. 24th Avenue, Kennewick, WA 99338. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.