I WAS driving through town to a church meeting and jumped the traffic lights in my efforts to get there on time. To my chagrin, a fellow church member had witnessed my lawlessness and rebuked me for it. I was grateful, though, to be awakened to the need to correct this flaw--my zeal at the wheel of a car--and I resolved to do something about it, before I got into serious trouble. My friend had helped me see that my behavior wasn't a harmless timesaver, but a potentially dangerous disregard for law !
As a Christian Scientist, I'm accustomed to solving my problems through prayer. So I turned to my Bible for inspiration in this situation, as well. I read about a Bible character called Jehu, who had a reputation for recklessness and aggression. His zeal, of course, was not at the wheel of a shiny silver automobile like mine, but at the reins of a chariot. Second Kings describes how he took Jehonadab with him on a zealous chariot ride. The Bible says: ''And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot. And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord'' (10:15, 16). On another occasion, a watchman recognized that it was Jehu approaching by his driving, pointing out: ''He driveth furiously'' (II Kings 9:20).
I wondered to myself whether I really wanted to be linked to the kind of ''furious'' driving I'd been doing. The way we behave at the wheel of a car speaks volumes about our state of mind. And it tells us quite a bit about our concept of God, of ourselves, and of our fellowman. It can show us if we're really being obedient to the Golden Rule that Christ Jesus gave us. Are we doing unto others as we would have them do unto us? Are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? This is the law of Love. W hen we obey it, it protects us and others. In order to claim the protection of the civil law, we have to obey it. Obedience to spiritual law is no less compelling!
Mary Baker Eddy, the author of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, describes the zeal that tolerates disobedience as ''blind enthusiasm; mortal will.'' But spiritual discipline gives a quite different import to the term. Zeal becomes ''the reflected animation of Life, Truth, and Love'' (p. 599). I realized that I needed to replace my willfulness and ''blind enthusiasm'' at the wheel of my car with ''the reflected animation of Life, Truth, and Love.'' This i s the spirit of God, which heals our thought. It reveals our true, spiritual identity in the image and likeness of God and comes to us through sacred communion with God. Man is self-governed when he is governed by God, and thereby puts himself in the safety of God's protection.
The zeal that is ''blind enthusiasm'' or ''mortal will'' stems from the belief that man is mortal, that he has a selfhood apart from God. But being animated by Life, Truth, and Love enables us to abandon the limitations of mortal selfhood and human will, and to let the Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, take control of our thinking in prayer. We can still be on time, but in a way that keeps us and those around us safely within the protection of God's law of Love. Then our zeal will be on a spirit ual basis, and it will be a zeal that is in accordance with divine wisdom. And it will bring healing, peace of mind, and joy.
In the Manual of The Mother Church, Mrs. Eddy gave her followers an instruction to pray daily that I have found most helpful in praying to overcome my zeal at the wheel. She says: ''It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to pray each day: 'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!'' (Art. VIII, Sect. 4)
As I've been able to do this more consistently, my zeal at the wheel has been replaced by obedience to divine Love at the wheel. Because that is the power that is animating my thought and action now, I am a much safer driver!