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stoplightDoes anyone else get as annoyed at stoplights as I do? I understand they are important. Accidents are already frequent enough; can you imagine what things would be like if we had no stoplights?! So I get that. But they’re still annoying. I mean, why is it when you’re running a little behind and you’re trying to get somewhere, that you literally hit every stinkin’ red light? Even the lights that are never red…you’ve always gotten green lights at those intersections. But no! Not this time! It’s the longest red light in the history of the automobile. And you’re sitting there, with your pulse rate increasing, watching the minutes tick by on the clock in your dash. Finally it turns green and with tires squealing, you take off down the street — only to hit another red light at the next block. Seriously.

But then, on those days when you’ve actually succeeded in leaving the house at a reasonable time, that’s when every light is green, and you arrive at your destination way ahead of time. You go in calm, with a normal heart rate, no coffee has been spilled, and you’re pleasant to be around.

So how do you keep from getting behind? My husband with the logically-oriented brain would say it’s good time management, being aware of what you have to do and putting it in order so it’s more easily accomplished, stuff like that. It all sounds great, and I very much admire people that can do that. But I’m way too much of a right-brained person, and often fall victim to my own chaos. I start off so well getting my ducks in a row here…then a squirrel runs by….and suddenly I’m off over there, now getting my monkeys in a row.

In addition to running behind, another problem with getting off track is that you begin to panic and start trying to rush ahead. You start speeding to try and get past  those red lights, and other than the obvious risk of crashing, you risk missing important details along the journey. I started thinking about that as I sat in my car in a parking lot the other day. Having actually left for an appointment on time, I coasted through several green lights, and now was just sitting calmly in my car, enjoying a couple more songs in my playlist. What came to my mind was how I had been “rushing through” my walk with God, and in the process, I was missing a lot of the things He was wanting me to learn.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I grew up in the church but walked away, and stayed away for almost two decades. In the 14 years since I renewed my relationship with God, I have been trying to make up for those lost years at a feverish pace. I felt that I had wasted all that time that I could have been working for the advancement of His Kingdom. There was so much I could have done, and so I thought that by running and pushing through things, that I could accomplish what I should have done when I was younger. I asked God to make my gifting known to me, and I believe He did. But instead of taking my time, organizing my thoughts and putting things in order, I stuffed everything into a great big “Jesus bag” and took off running down the road He had me on. Well, the red lights started coming up, and the frustrations rose. I prayed for no more red lights, but I wasn’t listening to God’s responses. I was out there doing it! I was serving, and sharing, and people knew me, and it was awesome! Suddenly the road came to an end, and I had to choose either right or left. I had to change my direction, but the thing was…I had no idea which way to go! So I sat down alongside the road, and asked, “OK God, which way,” and I believe that He showed me. But it wasn’t quite the same road that I had been on. Even though I was still able to use His gifts, it was for a different purpose, and I discovered that I was trying to run this new road parallel to the old one. Like, I could still see all of the sights along the old road, so if I ran parallel to it, maybe I could keep doing what I had been doing. But again, I started running ahead and at the same time getting frustrated because I wasn’t seeing results! I was getting confused, even angry! I started to fear a future where I had no purpose and was no longer able to be a useful instrument in bringing the lost to Christ!

I really needed a good smack. But God is way more gentle than that, and instead led me to some readings. In those pages, I began to see that my zealousness had actually caused my ears to be deaf to the Lord’s leading. In my panicked haste, I missed the sights along the way. I cannot be a useful instrument if I’m running ahead, because I don’t know where I’m running to. I don’t know what it is exactly that God has for me, and the only way I’m going to figure that out is by slowing down, and listening to Him as He teaches what He wants me to know. Because only then will I have been properly prepared for the next leg of the journey, and the one after that.

God has a purpose and a plan for you, and it is specifically only for you! But just because He has given you the gifts to execute that purpose doesn’t mean you know exactly what He’s got in mind for you to do with them. He wants you to slow down, to spend time with Him, soak up His Word, let Him lead. He knows exactly when He wants something to happen, and how you will fit into it. Don’t try to second guess your  progress and begin questioning your effectiveness. As long as you are walking right alongside Him – taking in the sights, learning, growing – all you will see ahead of you are green lights. Then you will arrive, prepared, at the place and time He set aside just for you and it will be amazing.

Céad míle beannachta~                                                                                      (One hundred thousand blessings)