`Drive thankfully'

``DRIVE carefully!'' was my final, somewhat apprehensive, instruction. Our son smiled at me from the driver's seat of ``Brown Baby,'' the elderly station wagon he was about to drive 1,500 miles back to college. His smile was affectionate but also a bit amused. One of the ``bonuses'' of teaching a child to turn to God as his Father-Mother, and not be afraid, is that he is likely to listen to God even before motherly concern. I knew our son was amused at my inconsistency.

Mentally I stepped back and listened to what I had just said -- and left unsaid. ``Drive carefully -- (or else you might have an accident and get hurt).''

And yet I believed Christ Jesus' message of God's loving care for man and trusted that his message can and must be proved daily.

What was really going on here? This was a call to face fear, which had been hiding in my thought under the heading of ``justifiable parental concern.'' Fear exposed must also be destroyed. I acknowledged that human circumstance cannot confine God's power or prevent it from healing and saving; and that it's the nature of His unstoppable, healing Christ to rescue, redeem, and redress. As a Christian Scientist I have learned to acknowledge that divinity does embrace humanity and powerfully assuage the human need.

Then, what else could I have said? ``Drive patiently''; ``Drive obediently''; ``Drive lovingly''; ``Drive thankfully'' -- all Christly qualities, none of which imply disaster of any size. Of course, this doesn't mean it's necessarily wrong to say ``Drive carefully.'' It can be helpful to be reminded of the need to exercise wisdom on the highway. What's important is that we consider our mental state, that we conquer fear.

Paul said something to the Philippians that applies: ``The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing.'' 1 J. B. Phillips translates these last words, ``Don't worry over anything whatever . . . .'' Paul's instructions are specific. We are to replace worry with thankful prayer. He continues: ``In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.''

What did I have to be thankful for? On the deepest level, the profound fact that the young man who was regarding me indulgently had indestructible spiritual identity that coexists forever with God; that he was the apple of God's eye.2 I was thankful that the study of Christian Science had taught me to trust God's love for my son more than my own affection, which sometimes stumbled. And I could never stop being grateful that the young man himself believed in the power of thankful prayer.

Paul's instructions on dealing with worry through prayer include a promised result--peace. He wrote, after the verses earlier quoted, ``And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.'' 3

Paul's words were reassuring. I knew they were reflected and amplified in the teachings of Christian Science. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``The good cannot lose their God, their help in times of trouble. If they mistake the divine command, they will recover it, countermand their order, retrace their steps, and reinstate His orders, more assured to press on safely.'' 4

Clearly this is more promising for the driver (and for the mother of the driver) than an admonition touched with fear. I had to trust God in prayer and to be consciously and humbly thankful that ``the good cannot lose their God'' on our highways. The demand was on me, not on someone else. In confronting fear for a loved one, I had to admit that God, divine Love, was there first--before the fear. Then I could feel the peace of God.

Throughout my son's college years he continued to be protected while driving, even in challenging situations. God's love, not fearful words of caution, protected him. 1 Philippians 4:5, 6. 2 See Deuteronomy 32:10. 3 Philippians 4:7. 4 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 10. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. Proverbs 29:25

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