Going beyond what if to what is

Years ago, my family enjoyed a trip to an area near the Colorado River. We were given the use of a golf cart, which our daughters especially enjoyed. One afternoon, the girls asked if they could drive the golf cart around the small neighborhood where we were staying, instead of coming on the boat with some of us. Since one of the adults was also staying behind, this seemed fine, and we went our separate ways to enjoy our activities.

Upon returning in the boat, we saw an alarming scene. Our girls were driving backward in the golf cart, heading right for an empty boat slip. The cart stopped with one bumper stuck on the dock and the rest of the cart suspended over the water. The girls jumped out of the cart quickly and got to dry land safely, and before we could get there, several men had run over to pull the cart off the dock and onto the road.

I comforted our girls and was grateful for their safety. And although they were scared, they were completely unharmed, as was the cart.

Sitting on the porch later that day, I thought about the incident. While I was supremely grateful for how everything had turned out, images of what could have happened—including all sorts of awful possible conclusions—kept coming to thought, and some were very disturbing.

It reminded me of the need to keep our thought not on the “what ifs” but on what is—on the constant presence of God in our lives.

I needed to stop thinking “What if . . .” and start focusing on what was spiritually true about the situation. I began to think about all that I was grateful for—the well-being of our daughters, the men who immediately helped at the dock, even the beautiful surroundings at the river. All of these were evidence of God’s protection, love, and beauty—of His perfect creation. Soon I was able to see all the good enveloping each of us, and the worry and fear regarding the previous events began to fade. 

This incident was certainly a wake-up call to use more care when operating the golf cart. But more importantly, it reminded me of the need to keep our thought not on the “what ifs” but on what is—on the constant presence of God in our lives, even during and after frightening events, and on the spiritual fact of God governing each moment. 

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, “Beloved Christian Scientists, keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 210). I’ve found this statement helpful in recognizing the “what is”—the reality of God’s perfect, good creation. By keeping my mind filled with thoughts of Truth and Love—Bible-based names for God—I am not allowing suggestions of their opposites to influence my thinking. Then, I can hear messages from God and feel assured of safety and peace, and the fears, or “what ifs,” naturally fall away, finding no foothold in my thinking.

The account of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt provides one biblical example of turning from what if to what is. The Israelites were afraid many times during their journey—afraid of being captured by the Egyptians and of starving to death. They even complained to Moses that they would be better off dying in Egypt with plenty of food than starving in the wilderness (see Exodus 16:3).

In each instance, Moses assured them that God was guiding and caring for them. And each need was met. God parted the Red Sea, enabling the children of Israel to safely escape the pursuing Egyptians, and supplied the Israelites with quails, manna, and water. Moses directed them not to fear the “what ifs,” the horrible things that might happen, but to see instead the “what is”—God’s ever-presence, and His unfailing care and provision for them each step of the way.

Christian Science teaches how important it is to watch our thinking, so that we can recognize and respond to what God is communicating to us. Mrs. Eddy writes: “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 392). This can be applied to the healing and well-being of the body as well as to the harmonizing and well-being of our daily lives and activities. We can control our bodies and our lives harmoniously as we keep our consciousness filled with God, good. 

That day, when I let go of what might have happened to our daughters and focused instead on all the God-given, unchanging good, I found peace and fully enjoyed the rest of our vacation. But more importantly, I was able to stop “what if” thinking in other aspects of my life and rejoice in what is.

No matter how difficult a problem—whether it’s with finances, physical health, or a relationship­—God is our ever-present help. And the more we recognize His protection, love, and guidance, the more fully we’ll experience these in our everyday happenings.

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