Friday, January 24, 2014

Traffic & Weather

"Oooh we belong together like traffic and weather, like traffic and weather"
 Fountains of Wayne

We can talk about these two subjects incessantly - with perfect strangers or the most intimate of friends - we love to talk, and especially complain, about traffic and weather.

I don’t have to contend with busy city traffic where I live, but I do spend a lot of time on the highway.  I admit I can be a bit of an impatient driver. Somehow I have justified my belief that the speed limit is a suggested guideline. So I often find myself frustrated when the vehicle in front of me is travelling below the speed limit for no apparent reason. The other day I was driving to town, following a car doing about eighty kilometres per hour, frequently braking and slowing down. The day was sunny, the roads were dry, and so I was grumbling under my breath that this guy should hurry up, or at least pick a speed and stick with it.  Then God showed me something so clearly I had to chuckle. He showed me how I was just like that car. On my faith journey through life, I frequently cruise along at a good pace, and then abruptly slow down. Usually I slow down because of fear – fear of the real challenges I will face on my life-road, or more often than not, completely imagined obstacles.  Or even worse than the car I was behind, I stop entirely. Or make a u-turn, totally disregarding God’s plan for me. Or I decide that God’s GPS must not be working and I veer off His road looking for an easier route.

I’m sure my friends, family and mentors notice my erratic life-driving, and question why I slow down so much, wander around the back roads and spin my wheels. Sometimes I simply put on the brakes, quit the engine, and lay my head on the steering wheel and cry. I forget that God is always in charge, and that He has a good plan for my life. I forget that my driving affects those people around me. What am I telling my kids about God when I give into fear, questioning my Sovereign Saviour? What do they learn from my inconsistent and often unpredictable faith journey?  What am I teaching them about other drivers? The way we handle ourselves on the road and react in traffic can be very much like the way we navigate our way through faith, life and community.

When it comes to weather, here in northern Alberta we tend to focus much of our complaining on the cold and snow. Sometimes it feels like winter begins in October and stays until the end of April. Then we have mosquito season, followed by a short glimpse of fall. But in truth we have unique seasons, in nature as in our lives. And each season has its own virtues. Its own purpose.  For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3.1

The cold and dark of winter can leave us tempted to stay in bed and pull the covers up over our heads. But when we venture out we see the beauty of hoar frost, sun dogs. Each one-of-a-kind snowflake reminds us that every one of God’s children is a unique creation. Even still we get to whining when it is too cold. And too hot. Too dark. Too bright. Too wet. Too dry. We, as the weather, go through transitions that can’t always be forecasted. Cold snaps break and we marvel at the warmth. Heat waves oppress and we are grateful for the refreshing rain. My hard heart has been warmed after a deep freeze. My fierce anger has been cooled by God’s grace. As the winds swirl snow across the prairie, the Holy Spirit has stirred life inside my soul. 

Just as the sun and the rain act in harmony to create the perfect environment for plants to grow and flourish, we need the right conditions in our soul to bear good fruit for God. And when we have those right conditions we will grow in the fruit of the Spirit, having built our house on the strongest foundation. So rather than complain when the winds and rain come, we can rejoice, knowing we serve the God who can still any storm. The Father that guides us on our journey through life. So bring on the traffic and weather – I will turn my complaints into praise for God, whatever the road conditions.

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