After graduation from university, I was struggling to navigate through young adulthood. I had a profession, but not a permanent job. I had a home, but it was a temporary one. I had friends, but a long-standing relationship had ended, and I couldn't seem to get past a feeling of hurt and loneliness. The darkness seemed so ominous.
One morning, driving along the highway, I was praying to lift the gloom. As I reached out to God for direction, the thought came that I should start to build on the good that was already evident in my life, to recognize the light that was already shining, even if it seemed dim.
In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy had much to say about gratitude. The chapter titled "Prayer" asks, "Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more" (p. 3).
What could I thank God for right at that moment? I was in heavy rush-hour traffic, yet all the cars were moving in an orderly fashion. Wasn't this proof of a law of harmony in operation â€“ God's law of Principle being expressed in a tangible form? The spring weather was glorious, and my dependable car was providing transportation to my temporary job. These were more evidences of harmony.
My thought became calm and quiet, receptive to the goodness around me. Quite unexpectedly, another message emerged, almost as if someone had spoken to me: "Get over to the slow lane." The road ahead was clear and there seemed no reason to move across three lanes of traffic to the curb lane, but I was obedient.
Just after I maneuvered into this lane, there was a loud thudding outburst from the rear of my car, and it became difficult to steer. I was approaching a bridge, but I had just enough room to slip the car onto the shoulder. Climbing out, I found I'd had a blow-out. The rear tire was flat and resting on the rim.
Now I truly felt the gratitude that I'd been claiming in my early morning prayer. The clear direction to change lanes for no apparent reason reminded me of the prophet Isaiah's promise of God's care, "Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear" (65:24). For months I'd been reaching out to God for direction on my road in life. This instance of protection indicated to me that I would continue to be guided each step of the way.
Within minutes, a kind man pulled up and offered to help. He not only changed the tire but insisted on following me off the highway to a gas station. In appreciation I asked if there was something I could do. His response was, "Yes, there is something you can do for me. Be happy!"
His request spoke so loudly to my heart. It was the crowning promise in response to my earlier prayer, and the lesson I was learning about depending on God for guidance in things small and large.
Since then I've learned to appreciate even more the Bible's message of trust in God, which is illustrated by people's experiences and by inspiring passages such as this one: "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my pathâ€¦. The entrance of thy words giveth light" (Ps. 119:105, 130). I certainly experienced that "light" on my path, protecting me when the tire blew out, but more than this, the man's request that I "be happy" opened my eyes to hope and progress.
In this time when world economies are struggling and many people â€“ especially new graduates â€“ are thinking and rethinking about the future, God is truly caring for each one of us. I love this passage from a poem written by Minnie Haskins, an American lecturer at the London School of Economics. It was made famous in a speech by King George VI at the beginning of World War II:
And I said to the one who stood at the gate of the year'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'
And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'
In the next few months after my experience on the highway, the challenges I'd been facing began to fade one by one, and I set off in unexpected directions, remembering that to put my "hand into the hand of God" was "better than light and safer than a known way."
Each of us can take this path to peace and progress.