This time of year, at 5:30 AM, it is still pretty dark where I live. I roll out of bed around 4:00 AM, get my self good and awake, brew some fresh green tea, have a quiet time, climb in my Jeep, turn on all the lights, and take off. This morning, when I came to the first stop sign, the one at the exit to my subdivision, I turned on my left signal, looked both ways, and saw headlights coming toward me. I waited for the cars to pass so I could make my turn and enter traffic.
At about the time I thought the last car passing the intersection was going to move through, it started coming straight toward me. My heart rate immediately went through the roof. The car didn’t seem to be slowing and I thought this was going to be a t-bone kind of day (but not one you enjoy at a restaurant). The car swerved making a right turn into the subdivision–without a signal.
By now, my heart wasn’t just racing, my blood was boiling. I really wanted to turn around, run down the little car, and say some things that I shouldn’t. Man am I thankful that Holy Spirit is in my heart.
I made the left, proceeded south to Goodman Road where I made another left. If you lived in North Mississippi, I probably wouldn’t have to say much more than–Goodman Road. But for those of you who don’t, and for the sake of this blog, Let me explain. Thirty years ago, Goodman Road [Mississippi Highway 302], was a two-lane road that crossed north Mississippi east to west just south of the Tennessee state line from Walls to a point west of Olive Branch.
When I first moved to this area, I could jump in my car, leave Walls, and arrive in downtown Olive Branch in less than twenty minutes passing hundreds of driveways and only a few businesses. Then it hit–urban sprawl. Now we have a 5-lane highway and from Walls to Olive Branch there are about 12,000 traffic lights, or so it seems. Along the 5-lane route you’ll find every fast food joint, furniture store, and big box shopping center you can imagine. And that doesn’t count a Walgreens and/or CVS drugstore and some sort of bank and gas station on every corner. At night, it looks like Las Vegas with all the lighted signs.
During my trip this morning, I got “caught” by almost ever traffic signal. I was doing more stopping than going. I could hardly wait for the red light to turn green so I could zip down the road another quarter mile to stop at the next traffic signal. People were running the lights and yes, plenty were turning without their turn signal activated. BTW, if you turn in front of me without your signal on, look very close, I’m going to look at you in a way that will let you know I’m not pleased.
The place I was going this morning was about half way between Walls and Olive Branch. It took me thirty minutes to get there. Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to have the old two-lane road.
Traffic signals, including all sorts of signs and the bright red, yellow, and green lights, are put along the roadways to give us guidance–and to keep us from running over each other. The signs on the front of stores are there for a similar reason. Companies place the brightly lit neon boxes on the front of their buildings to get our attention. Recently, I was in another part of the country that obviously limits store signs and especially the signs that stand a hundred feet in the air or more. I couldn’t find anything. I thought to myself, I guess they just don’t want me to find the place I’m looking for today. Without visual signals that are plainly marked, it can be tough getting around.
Take for example the little white rectangles along the side of the road with numbers on them. . .25, 35, 45, 55. . .and then just above the numbers, two words: speed limit. Everyone driving a car knows what they mean, but most people ignore them; signals.
Living a dedicated God-life requires recognizing signals, too. The biggest signal of all is kind of like the sun. Everyday at sunrise, no one has to wonder what is going on. When that big ball of fire crosses the horizon, you know daytime has arrived. The biggest signal of all in the Bible is the Jesus event at Calvary. It was so big it caused an earthquake and a storm. The whole universe paused when Jesus died on the Cross. The “green-light” part of that story is the Resurrection! Jesus got up from the grave to complete His journey to “seek and to save that which was lost.”
For those of us who are believers, God-followers, Jesus-lovers, kingdom-heirs, on our way to heaven, there are a lot of signals that follow our decision to accept Christ. We generally call the signals “marks of discipleship.”
If I tried to write them all down here, I’d never finish. God has given us all the signals we need to move in and out of the traffic of life safely. When to turn, went to go, when to stop. . .it’s all there. I just wonder if we are paying attention to the signals.