Life without stop signs
Originally printed as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel
The driving test was going smoothly enough, even though I was nervous. The examiner tried to be helpful. He patiently directed me to drive on a few main streets, to go through a couple of neighborhoods, to make some turns, parallel park - the usual.
Then it happened. A maneuver I'll never forget.
"Just one more left turn at the next corner," he said.
We approached the intersection at a slow speed. I used my turn signal and signaled with my arm, checked the rearview mirror, turned left, then completed the turn. I thought it had gone well. But he asked me to pull over to the side.
"Look in your rearview mirror," he said. "What do you see?"
It was a stop sign. I'd driven right through a stop sign.
At that moment I imagined myself back to riding a bicycle for transportation. But I was grateful that the examiner didn't penalize me enough to receive a failing score. (He did issue a warning not to let it happen again.) No roadside stop signs have gone unnoticed by me in the years since then, so far as I know!
But there are others, a different kind of "stop sign," that I intentionally do not observe. Call them "stop signs" that appear to be inherent in human existence. For example, an age at which they say one's usefulness is coming to an end; a time when the development of one's life experience is considered to be over; a period in life when one slows down in anticipation of a final stopping point ahead.
All of these are examples of what is often believed to be the ultimate stop sign - mortality. Anticipating some end-point in their lives, many people tend to wind down, disengage from activity, prepare to stop.
"And why not?" people might argue. "I can't expect to go forward forever."
What a contrast to such finality was the life lived and taught by Christ Jesus. There's nothing in Jesus' teachings to suggest that sooner or later in life we have to apply the brakes. "I am come that they might have life," he taught, "and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Abundantly. Nonstop.
Jesus' life proved each life to be far different from the mortal, material model of existence most people accept. The real nature of life is ceaseless, whole, spiritual, the expression of God, who is divine and eternal Life. This is what our true being is - the unending expression of Life.
We see this indomitable and harmonious expression of Life reflected in Jesus' ministry, enabling him to restore physical harmony (health) and even raise people from the dead. How encouraging it is to realize that Life's animating, spiritual expression is just as available today. The spirit of Life is unstoppable, powerful. It enables anyone to live a healthier, more purposeful, and fuller life. "Life is, like Christ, 'the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever,' " wrote Mary Baker Eddy in the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (pg. 249).
As long as we believe that we get our life from matter, or by relying on some material product or condition, we'll encounter "stop signs." Our lives will be limited by having a mortal, material model. But looking to God, divine Spirit, as the source of life, we will discover that there is no end-point. Our life, as God's spiritual expression, is endlessly developing. It's a continuous fountain of vitality, purpose, intelligence, love, life.
It's possible to hold this spontaneous spiritual model of Life continually in thought. Let it permeate our consciousness. Then, it's possible to express life as fully and actively and purposefully as we desire. That's taking hold of the spirit of Life and living it. Nothing God gives is restricted or comes to a halt. Life, and all the good it includes, is nonstop.
Don't get stuck at mortal life's intersections. Keep moving!
For I know the thoughts
that I think toward you,
saith the Lord, thoughts of
peace, and not of evil, to
give you an expected end.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society