Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Stop Sign

Have you ever stopped to reflect on the importance and purpose of stop signs?

Stop signs are placed at strategic locations along our streets and highways and hardly a day goes by that they do not interrupt our daily excursions, but we pay them little attention.
I don’t remember ever having had an animated conversation about a stop sign.
None of us believe that the stop signs are there to make life difficult for us, we appreciate that they are there to stand guard, ensuring our safety on the roads.

Have you ever considered your choices when you approach a stop sign?

You could:
1> stop , look to the right and the left and then continue on your way
2> stop, and change direction
3> stop , wait for traffic right of way and proceed when it is safe
4> ignore the stop sign and just keep on going.
5> stop, and sit there for the rest of the day contemplating the misfortune of having a stop sign interrupt your journey.

You probably know where I am going ....
As we travel along life’s journey, we are sometimes confronted by a ‘stop sign’. And while I am sure you smiled at the absurd 5th choice in the above list …. in life’s journey I think we choose that one more often than not.

Sometimes we forget that this life is a journey. We would just as soon stay here and camp in a nice comfortable spot.
But as Christians we need to remember that we - just like Abraham - are not citizens of this world, but are simply traveling through…”By faith he sojourned …as in a strange country …For he looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God..” ( Heb. 11:9,10)

Sometimes God’s stop sign is something that catches our attention… a sermon, a book , a riviting thought, or something someone says- that impresses us , alerting us to the fact that we have become careless, maybe going too fast , focused on the wrong things , …. we need to stop and look both ways, checking our ‘road map’, the Word of God to make sure we are ‘safe’

Sometimes the stop signs of God are there to indicate directional change.
It may be an inconvenience, it may be an accident, it may be a death, it may be the loss of a job, or a disappointment. We may be traveling along perfectly happy , and suddenly we are pulled up short. Something happens that we did not expect nor want and we are unprepared !
Suddenly, we find that instead of continuing as we had planned - straight ahead- we find ourselves facing in a totally new direction. It may be a relatively minor directional change that only affects our plans for one day, maybe we need to reconnect with someone or mend a broken relationship, or lend someone a helping hand instead of pursuing our plans to go shopping.
Or it may be something larger like a disaster, an accident, the death of a loved one, or a job change.
I know someone who lost his wife recently, and then a couple of months later unexpectantly learned that the company he had worked for all his life, was declaring bankruptcy. He faces a monumental directional change in his life.
As upsetting as a directional change is in our lives , it is an invitation to draw close to the One who has promised never to leave us comfortless or alone.

Other times the stop signs God puts into our path are there for our safety, to make us wait for the ‘right-of-way’ and then proceed.
We have all heard about the ‘stop signs’ that saved many lives on 9/11 (September 11,2001).
Little things , annoyances that just made that day start out all wrong , putting people in a bad mood were life-saving ‘stop signs’.
Robert Herzog was late for work because he dropped off some laundry and when he wanted to take an express commuter train to make up for lost time, the door literally slammed in his face just as he was going to board. It was his own office that took the direct hit of the first plane but he wasn’t there. A Stop Sign saved his life.
Another man’s stop sign was a blister he developed from his new shoes and he stopped to pick up a bandaid at the drugstore, making him late for work. One man stopped to pick up doughnuts for his office, one woman spilled juice on her outfit and had to change, one was stuck on the NJ Turnpike because of an accident.
All annoying stop signs that were placed in their path to protect them from certain death !
Next time something happens that would normally annoy you… stop and thank God for His protection over you.

Though we know better, there are times we ignore the stop sign and just keep on going. We know what is right to do, we know God’s commandments…. but we are stubborn or bent on going our own way, following our own inclinations. We rationalize, we justify, we think it won’t matter, we think ‘what harm just this once?’ One lie, one burst of anger , one selfish thought or deed…. but we do so at our own peril and not only do we hurt ourselves but we also put others at risk. When we sin , it does not affect only us , it involves others who are often pulled into the painful consequences.
How much better to live life in the safety of obedience to God’s road signs.

Then , there are the stop signs in our life that take our focus completely off the road and we sit , unable or unwilling to proceed. Maybe we suffered an injustice, or we are overlooked for a job promotion, or someone wounded us so deeply we cannot forgive, or our life circumstances are beyond our control and keep us from doing what we want to do. The list is endless, but we all come across ‘stop signs’ in our life that make us feel the burden is too great , we cannot go on. And so we sit , staring at the stop sign.
If we sit because of our anger or unforgiveness we need to repent , restart our engines and resume our journey… we are blocking traffic !!
If it is because of something outside of our control, like a handicap or illness or circumstance of life we need to realize that God has already made allowances for the difficulties that come into our life and they do not hinder His purposes in and through us but actually can help us !! I remember when I first became ill, and realized that I was going to have to deal with some degree of life disability and unknown future , my first thought was regret that I could no longer do the things that I felt were God’s will in my life… but then I rejoiced knowing that God was not limited by my limitations…I would just have to live closer to Him … because now , not being sure of my own way … I would have to be even more dependant on Him as my all-wise Guide.

I found this poem recently and I would like to share it with you… it is so true.

The Easy Roads are Crowded
The easy roads are crowded,
And the level roads are jammed;
The pleasant little rivers
With the drifting folds are crammed

But off yonder where it’s rocky,
Where you get a better view,
You will find the ranks are thinning
And the travelers are few.

Where the going’s smooth and pleasant
You will always find the throng,
For the many, - mores the pity,
Seem to like to drift along.

But the steps that call for courage
And the task that’s hard to do,
In the end results in glory
For the never-wavering few.


1 comment:

Demara said...

If obeying the signs means life than let's stop and smell the roses----to glory?

Amen Sister~