It’s almost spring, so I know what that means. Soon, the birds will return, the rain will fall, and the roads will be closed due to construction. All of them.
The #FridayFive prompt at my friend Kelly’s this week is Five Obstacles. So I thought of road signs. What do they tell us? What do they keep us from? How do they instruct, protect, and frustrate us? Here are five signs we might find in the middle of our road.
Do Not Enter
When I was a kid, developers started construction on a subdivision across the street. “Do Not Enter” signs popped up all over. Accustomed to owning that particular field for our play, we ignored them. One day, riding my bike down a giant hill, I came to the bottom to find that the blacktop there had been jackhammered and strewn around. Unable to stop, I ended up similarly strewn, over my handlebars, scraped and bruised everywhere.
Some obstacles are for our own good. If God puts up a “Do Not Enter” sign, there is probably a reason. Ask Eve about this. She will tell you a story. I have a friend who wrote a book with her husband about the porn addiction that almost destroyed their family. It’s so tantalizing, so tempting to peer past that sign into forbidden territory. We won’t go far. Just a taste.
Until we find ourselves careening out of control down a hill with the bridge out ahead. We can save ourselves a lot of bruises and scrapes by wisely saying to ourselves, “I think I’ll go another way.” Keep Out. Do Not Enter. God knows what he’s doing here.
There are so many things to stop. If we want to start good things, chances are, we have to stop other things. Stop talking and start listening. Stop criticizing and start solving. Stop getting angry and start seeing another’s point of view. Stop being a victim and start owning your choices. Stop paying attention to every Facebook notification if I want to start accomplishing my writing goals.
Then there are things straight up out of Scripture, like: Stop grumbling and complaining (Philippians 2.14). Stop worrying. (Philippians 4.6) Stop fearing (2 Timothy 1.7). Ouch.
The list is extensive. Only we know which ones apply best to ourselves. (Although I have some dear people in my life who will point them out to me when I
miss ignore them.) “Stop” is a good thing to heed if we want to start anything worthwhile.
On our first date, my husband, who did not have a car at college, had borrowed a friend’s, and therefore didn’t really know the streets, got a ticket for turning into the wrong side of a boulevard. I sat in the passenger seat and laughed hysterically. Somehow, I still got a second date and a marriage proposal.
When driving, I would wholeheartedly suggest following the rule that says not to turn down a street when all the traffic is going the other way. However, I’m not so sure about this in life. Some of my best adventures have happened while going against the traffic. The pink sunset over Roman rooftops when we went into the exit of the closed Forum area. The view from the mountain over Neuschwanstein when everyone else was going down.The seminary degree with highest honors when someone told me, “Women can’t be pastors.”
For Christians especially, going against the flow can often mean you’re going the right way. (Not always—sometimes it just means you’re being a jerk.) Is the “Wrong Way” really the right way when we’re embracing justice, mercy, and love in the face of fear, self-preservation, and anger? Then keep going, friend. Popular opinion is not the best GPS.
Yield is the sign I suspect we hate most of all. An outright stop we can understand. We take turns. It’s all good. Bu yield? As in, let someone else go first when I could have the chance? Not a chance.
What might happen in this world if we all learned to yield just a bit?
Yield my rights. Yield my time. Yield my unforgiveness, worry, and offense. Yield my need to be first or be heard or be right. I cannot even fathom the peace of such a world. I think the only way to get it out of my imagination and into reality is for me to start it myself. It’s a one person at a time thing.
Today, let’s look for chances to yield. I guarantee we’ll find them.
I love taking pictures of odd “____ crossing” signs. I have alligator, duck, moose, armadillo, and bear crossing signs. But the one we see most often in the Midwest is for deer. Everyone around here knows, if you hit a deer, it will be bad for you, worse for the deer.
I think there’s something we can take away from that. Jesus reminds us,
“I tell you the truth, when you did it (showed kindness and provision) to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me! And I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” (Matthew 25.40, 45).
I see the deer as the least of these. The ones weaker, more vulnerable, and more frightened than I. It’s my job to watch for them and to ensure their safe passage. For both our sakes. When our world gets to be someplace where the care of the least of these is disregarded, it will be bad for the stronger ones as well.
“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” – Mahatma Ghandi
So a person’s humanity.
Five signs, five obstacles in the road. How will we take them? What choices do we make when we see the signs?