Creeping Up


Heavy Traffic at a Traffic Light

Psalm 103:8 The Lord is kind and merciful. He is patient and full of love.

I don’t know if you do this when you’re at a long light, say on Sudley Road (you can have your pick there of long lights) or if you’ve noticed other drivers doing the same thing. Say you’re stopped for a light. Say it’s a long light, long enough that you think the season may change before the light does. You’ve filed your nails, read all the bumper stickers you can see and said prayers for almost everyone you know, and then it happens.

The light hasn’t changed. And then you creep up, not far enough that you run into the car ahead of you. The question is why? The timer that controls the light doesn’t care what you do. You’re not intimidating it to change sooner with your car. It will take its own sweet time until it changes and, short of your car growing wings and flying above traffic or going off-road (which I don’t recommend), you have to wait. And wait. And wait.

I’ve been trying to understand why some drivers do this, and one possibility has to do with the anxiety we feel on the roads in this stressful, time-driven area. Creeping up at lights might be a way to relieve some of the anxiety we feel at traffic lights. We’re moving—it’s not far and it’s not for long, but darn it, we’re going somewhere. And a few seconds later, when the light changes, we are really going somewhere, even if it’s only to the next red light, and we feel better. It’s only for a short while, certainly, but we need all the feeling better we can get.

I think that the spiritual connection is this: not to demean God, but God is like that timer on the traffic light. God is going to accomplish God’s purposes on God’s timetable. There’s no way we can hurry God or make those purposes happen any sooner. We must wait until they do happen, and when they do, the joy and contentment we feel is well worth waiting for. Think of the Children of Israel waiting for the Messiah. They moaned and cried out for a Savior for millennia, but that didn’t change the time of that Messiah’s coming. Jesus came when the time was right, and for those of us who have accepted him as Lord and Savior, our joy is free and unbounded. Praise God for being patient, for doing what is necessary when the time is right, and for sending the gift of Jesus Christ, who is indeed our Lord and Savior. Amen.


Small Steps



Small Steps

1 Kings 19:11-12: (Elijah goes out to meet the Lord) Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

I don’t know if you’ve ever accidentally stepped on a cat. It’s not a pleasant experience either for you or for the cat, and there’s always the risk of both cat and human breaking something, whether from being stepped on or falling.

Our elder cat Nacho doesn’t move quickly any more, if she ever did, except when it’s time to eat and she hustles toward her food. And she is remarkably stubborn about claiming whatever space she happens to sprawl on. If she’s lying in the hall, for instance, and I come along, she will not move. I am then forced to step over her since the hall is not wide enough to go around her. In that circumstance, she looks at me as if to say, “Yeah, buddy, this hall is mine and so is any place I happen to occupy. You can go over and go around.”

Knowing Nacho is like this, I have gotten into the habit of taking small steps, almost shuffling my feet, so that if I do encounter her unexpectedly, I’d only nudge her with a toe, as opposed to stepping on her with what my mother used to call, “my big flat feet.” (They are flat, by the way, but I think more “average” than “big.” They’re still big enough to hurt a cat.)

I think I first adapted small steps as a preventative measure when Amy and Alyssa started crawl. They were much like Nacho—they claimed their space, and if I came along, I had to watch out for them since I was the responsible party, as the insurance companies like to say. So I shuffled along the floor when they were at that age. When we adopted Nacho, I easily fell into taking small steps, a legacy from our daughters’ activities at that age.

I think the spiritual application is this: in our faith, we need to take small steps after our initial leap of faith as we grow into Christlikeness. There will occasionally still be giant steps with our spirituality, but most of the progress is done in small everyday bits, such as being kind to someone or sensitive to a person’s emotional state. Jesus spoke of the tiny mustard seed growing into a large bush. God is not necessarily in the whirlwind, but perhaps more so in the silence of small acts and thoughts, which can have huge effects on the world and on its people. Praise God for the small deeds and words that grow, like the mustard tree, into the Kingdom. Amen.