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"Six months at stoplights ..."

There are better things to do with our waiting time!

From the May 8, 1989 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


Six months at stoplights! That heading in our evening newspaper caught my eye. The article told of a time study that had determined that the average person spends six months at stoplights. Not only that, he spends eight months opening junk mail and one year searching for misplaced objects. He also spends two years trying to return telephone calls to people who never seem to be in, and five years waiting in line.

The average person sounds like me! Do I get frustrated? Sometimes. But more and more I am learning to use those moments to demonstrate Christian Science and to practice Christian virtues, such as patience, peace, and trust in God's loving control. For instance, while waiting at stoplights or in stalled or slowly moving traffic, I often find it helpful to think about this prayer in hymn from the Christian Science Hymnal:

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise. Hymnal, No. 324 .

Whether the waiting moments are in traffic or in a grocery store line, they can actually provide wonderful opportunities to praise God. There is time to sing a hymn (mentally, if not aloud) and to recognize and affirm that the presence of God is governing me and everyone around me harmoniously.

The Psalmist says, "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him." Ps. 62:5. It's good to know that I am not waiting for a slowpoke ahead of me to move; I am waiting upon God. I am expecting to see infinite Mind's wisdom expressed in me and everyone around me. I am expecting to see infinite Love's tenderness expressed in me and in every person I meet. I am expecting good and harmony and waiting to see them take place in every moment of my day.

This kind of expectation is truly waiting upon God. It's the best kind of waiting; it brings peace and refreshment instead of tension and frustration.

What are we doing as we wait in line or perform routine chores or commute to work each day? Are we being impatient, anxious, fretful? Are we daydreaming or mentally idle? These waiting moments can be fruitful if used rightly. In a message to the members of the Church she founded, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, presents what Christian Science says of the right thinker and worker. She writes: "Now, what saith Christian Science? 'When a man is right, his thoughts are right, active, and they are fruitful; he loses self in love, and cannot hear himself, unless he loses the chord. ... He improves moments; to him time is money, and he hoards this capital to distribute gain.'" Message to The Mother Church for 1900, p. 3.

To me this means using otherwise idle moments to pray about whatever I see that troubles me—as I did when we moved out of town to a rural area. As I drove back and forth to town, I noticed lots of evidence of vandalism: particularly mailboxes knocked down and business and home signs destroyed. At first it disturbed me. Then I realized this was an opportunity for me to pray for my new community. These people were my neighbors, including those individuals who were committing the vandalism. This was an opportunity to obey the commandment Christ Jesus reiterated: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Matt. 22:39.

As I drove back and forth, instead of shifting my mind into idle I prayed.

As I drove back and forth, instead of shifting my mind into idle I prayed. Whenever I saw a broken mailbox or any other evidence of vandalism, I affirmed the truth in this verse from Revelation: "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever." Rev. 11:15. I knew my neighborhood was the kingdom "of our Lord, and of his Christ." I reasoned that vandalism was not reigning—could not reign—because our Lord, through His Christ, was ruling everyone.

I prayed to understand that everyone in my neighborhood was, in reality, God's creation, and so could only be good. The desire to destroy was no part of God's good creation. I prayed to see that Christ, revealing man's divine nature, was present in the consciousness of each individual. Not only was my drive enjoyable and refreshing, but within two or three months the evidence of vandalism had noticeably ceased.

As for the time spent searching for misplaced objects! I am gradually learning to turn more quickly to infinite Mind, instead of aimless searching, to find what I need. This thought from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy has been helpful to me: "Mind is God. The exterminator of error is the great truth that God, good, is the only Mind, and that the supposititious opposite of infinite Mind—called devil or evil—is not Mind, is not Truth, but error, without intelligence or reality." Science and Health, p. 469.

God, the only infinite Mind, always knows, always remembers, never forgets, never misplaces needed ideas. Spiritual man is God's image and likeness, is the likeness of this Mind, and so man, by reflection, always remembers the ideas of Spirit. This "great truth that God, good, is the only Mind" is "the exterminator of error," the exterminator of confusion, of forgetfulness, of absent-mindedness.

Because of this great fact, you and I do not need to waste time searching for misplaced objects. This doesn't mean that God knows material objects and where they are. But everything good and useful hints at the spiritual idea, and infinite Mind knows all its ideas. So man, as Mind's likeness, can never be separated from the knowledge of good.

One dictionary defines wait as "to remain inactive or stay in one spot until something anticipated occurs." No matter how much waiting we do at stoplights or in grocery store lines, we need never be inactive. These minutes can be active, fruitful, and productive. They can, in fact, help forward our new birth, aiding us in becoming better Christians. In an article entitled "The New Birth" Mrs. Eddy writes: "The new birth is not the work of a moment. It begins with moments, and goes on with years; moments of surrender to God, of childlike trust and joyful adoption of good; moments of self-abnegation, self-consecration, heaven-born hope, and spiritual love." Miscellaneous Writings, p. 15.

What a wonderful opportunity these six months at stoplights are! We can be grateful for the pauses in our busyness, for every opportunity to praise God and to forward our new birth.

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