“Fear Ye Not … Go Forward”

From the October 1911 issue of The Christian Science Journal by

The fourteenth chapter of Exodus contains a grand lesson of encouragement to all Christian Scientists, individually and collectively, and especially valuable to students who in some measure perceive that active service and progress are the ceaseless demands of God, the divine Principle of Christian Science, but who are confronted with obstacles which seem impassable. When viewed through the lens of Christian Science, the crucial event of the exodus from bondage narrated in this chapter is indeed most inspiring to those who find themselves faced by difficulties in personal or family affairs, in business or professional life, or in governmental problems. Indeed, the lesson will be found most salutary when applied under the guidance of divine Mind to the demands of progress as they may become manifest in our cause, whether in the formation of Christian Science societies, branch churches, or in purchasing land, building edifices, establishing reading-rooms, or in any other connection wherein the right purpose seems to be challenged or prevented by fear, ignorance, or open hostility to the truth. To all earnest students of Christian Science, therefore, the fourteenth chapter of Exodus is a deep wellspring of practical assistance, a spring of faith and courage whose refreshing waters can never be exhausted, because they proceed from “a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God” (the consciousness of good only).

Under the leadership of Moses the children of Israel had been safely led out of Egypt, on their way toward the promised land, by a roundabout route which skirted the land of the Philistines through the way of the wilderness. They finally arrived at the shores of the Red sea, where they encamped, because the great body of water offered them no means for transportation. In the mean time Pharaoh, who had unwillingly consented to the departure of the children of Israel, repented his edict of liberty and decided to restrain the chosen people from leaving his domains. Gathering about six hundred carefully selected chariots, horsemen, and a host of warriors, he went in pursuit of the multitude who had started, in obedience to God, on their journey toward the land of promise. The Egyptian monarch overtook the Israelites at Baal-zephon, and as his hosts came within the sight of the encampment, the beleaguered people were filled with alarm. Oppressed heavily by their own fears, the Israelites quickly turned on their courageous leader and bitterly reproached him for having brought them into the wilderness to die under the hand of the Egyptian tyrant. In fact their reproaches went to the point of recalling their oft-repeated declaration, made back in Egypt when their benefactor was arousing them to throw off the yoke of bondage, “Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians.”

How often today are the invitations and demands of Truth met with indifferent evasions, mental laziness, and protestations that personal sense prefers to remain idle, or to move in conventional grooves, serving the traditions of the darkened human mind, rather than to exert the better nature and obey the righteous demands of divine Mind, whose laws are always expressed in progress. Entirely in keeping with this way of half-awakened mortals, the Biblical narrative tells us how those who sighed for the old ways of bondage, when pursued by the chariots and horsemen of error became “sore afraid” — resentful and fearful. But their great leader was undismayed by these signs of weakness and infidelity. He immediately drew on the unlimited abundance of courage always available to those who sincerely trust God, and commanded his people to cease their fears, to stand firmly and experience the salvation which would come that very day from an unyielding reliance on God, the all-protecting divine Mind. Moses supplemented his appeal by assuring his followers that the Egyptians should utterly disappear that very day. To this encouraging promise the great leader added the cheering words that their God should fight for them and that they only needed to hold their peace, — to calm their own thoughts. In these few words of admonition and counsel, the Hebrew leader healed the depressed condition of thought which had taken possession of his people, and was thereby himself elevated into an attitude of mind from which he could vigorously stir his followers into action by the delivery of one of the most remarkable messages from God that can be found in the records of the Israelitish exodus from Egypt: “Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.”

It sometimes seems in the progress of the student of Christian Science that his pathway is obstructed by a veritable Red sea of fear. He is surrounded by a tangled wilderness of hostile human opinions and beset by a horde of mortal beliefs, originating in ignorance and doubt, which pursue him and try to prevent his advancement toward the land (consciousness) of freedom. To students of Christian Science temporarily pressed into an extremity of fear and indecision, the commands of God delivered through His highest representative during the period of the exodus from Egypt are indeed of great importance. They have lost none of their vitality or authority, and may be epitomized in these words: Stop fearing; rely on divine Mind; cease complaining; go forward! Instead of looking back into Egyptian darkness, whining over the demands of progress, — instead of thinking how much better it might have been not to have commenced the journey out of material sense toward the land of promise (the exclusive consciousness of Spirit), — it is ours to turn our faces bravely toward the errors which obstruct our path, trust God more firmly, and know that His outstretched arm can always save to the uttermost; then to go forward, never doubting a safe exodus from even the most threatening conditions.

The Biblical narrative under consideration tells us further that God commanded the prophet to lift up his rod, and then to stretch his hand over the sea and divide the waters so that the Israelites could go through their midst on solid ground. If we carefully read the first five verses of the fourth chapter of Exodus, and then read in Science and Health (p. 321), the explanation of the incident there narrated, we shall see that through a demonstration of divine Science this rod had already become a symbol of spiritual understanding upon which Moses could rely. Hence the command, “Lift thou up thy rod,” delivered to Moses on the shore of the Red sea, was practically a divine reminder, stimulating the Hebrew leader to remember the power which had once transformed the rod from a serpent and made it a symbol of God’s omnipotence. Beyond this the Jewish lawgiver was only to exercise this divine power, for he was commanded: “Stretch out thine hand over the sea” — to utilize the same all-powerful Mind that had before given him such a wonderful proof in the episode of the rod and the serpent.

The narrative tells us that Moses was meekly obedient to the command, and that as a result his followers were freed from their fear. Then a channel was formed through the waters of the obstructing sea, and the great multitude of people were enabled to go forward through this formidable body of water “upon the dry ground, ” — typical of progress on a substantial formation of supporting thought. But the recalcitrant children of Israel were first compelled to be obedient, to cease their murmurings and to exhibit some confidence by moving up to the edge of the sea, and by facing it fearlessly with faith in the divine power to lead and to protect them through this hour of severe trial. The Egyptians pursued, and in the confusion which followed their ignorance of divine law they were self-destroyed by the awful daring which they displayed in trying to do violence to the chosen people of God. We are taught in Science and Health (p. 186) that “the only power of evil is to destroy itself.”

It is entirely possible for the sincere, diligent student of Christian Science to prove that God’s commands to “go forward” are just as vitalizing, and the means for obedience are just as available today, as they were when the great lawgiver stood almost alone with God at Baal-zephon, surrounded by a fearstricken multitude of followers, a hostile army marching toward the rear of his encampment, and a lashing sea before his face. In every test of faith which may arise in personal, social, business, or church affairs, sincere Christian Scientists discover that obedience and meekness, with spiritual understanding of the divine Mind, will always divide the restless waters of mortal belief, fear, or limitation, and open a heaven-protected way whereby they can go forward, under the loving providence of God, in His service and for His glory.

Prayer is an act both of the understanding and of the heart. The understanding must apply itself to the knowledge of the divine perfections, or the heart will not be led to the adoration of them. It would not be reasonable service if the mind were excluded. — Hannah More

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