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I grew up in a small town in South Carolina. It was easy to get around town. There were a few stop signs scattered about, but no traffic lights. No one thought they needed such new fangled things.
There were two railroads that crossed at the center of town, and the appearance of trains on the tracks was really the only thing that was somewhat of a traffic director.
Then it happened. A new mayor was voted in. And one of the first orders of business announced was that the town was going to get a signal light. Even though it was called a signal light by its proponents, to most it was known as “the stop light.”
There were horrified gasps from the old guard. It was widely discussed that no one needed some light telling them when they could go and when they should stop. It was considered just common sense to know the difference between stop and go!
But progress happened. The light was installed. And amongst much grumbling, every time we went up town, my father reminded the rest of the family to “remember the light,” meaning to remember to pay attention and heed its commands.
Much to the amazement of the community, the light actually had a positive effect. Truckers, who would have come barreling through town, hardly giving it a second look, discovered the best restaurant anywhere, was located right next to the light. Those same truckers then noticed the gas station on the corner and began to stop to fill up.
And the towns’ people — well, sometimes, while they were waiting at the light, they would roll their windows down and talk to people they hadn’t seen in awhile. A friendly honk from those behind had to remind them to move on!
The Spiritual Signal Light!
Jesus revealed that He is The Light of The World!
When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said,
“I AM The Light of The World!
Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness,
but will have The Light of Life!”
God/Jesus/The Holy Spirit are the Signal Lights of our Life. And yet how many of us resist following their direction. Much like the towns’ people, we are quite sure we know when to go and when to stop. We don’t really see God’s Guidance as Guidance. We see it as potential meddling in our life that will prevent us from doing what we want to do.
When I was little, I learned a verse to explain signal lights. I’m not sure who originally said it, but the verse was:
Red means stop.
Yellow means wait.
Green means go —
Don’t you hesitate!
There is a time to thoughtfully consider things. But there is a time to stop immediately! STOP is often the Word that saves us from disaster.
A child starts to dart into the path of a speeding car. The mother yells, “Stop!” The intention is for the child to instantly obey, based on the authority of one he trusts.
I once started into a gated garden. My mother yelled, “Stop!” I did. She had seen what I had not seen — a rattlesnake just inside the fence. Her words and my obedience saved me. (And of course, it was God’s faithful provision, who had brought that snake to her attention in the first place!)
God, speaking to Job of the sea He had created, spoke of its boundaries. Places where the waves must stop.
I fixed limits for it,
and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said,
“This far you may come and no farther;
there is where your proud waves halt!”
When God wanted to stop Abraham from killing Isaac, the angel of the Lord stopped Him.
But the Angel of The Lord stopped him!
Jesus said His sheep would know His Voice and they would obey.
My sheep hear My Voice
and I know them,
and they follow Me!
When we know Him, we will instantly know His Voice and when He says stop, we need to instantly stop!
So are there any times when we should wait to act? Yes! Sometimes we get the idea that life is either full speed ahead or slam on the brakes. The Truth is there is a wonderful oasis between these two extremes called “Waiting on The Lord.”
God has a wonderful Plan for our lives, but both our physical bodies and our spiritual bodies need time to grow into what He has for us. Why wait?
Growing takes a lot of energy. Every sports competitor can tell you the times of rest in-between challenges are important. Even the most beautiful music would not be beautiful without the periods of rest between the notes.
But they that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.
Waiting gives us an opportunity to be sure of what we believe. When we are willing to stay in the cocoon with God, He allows us to ask all the questions we want. He allows us to protest. He allows us to present our case. He tends to our wounds gently. He nurtures us. He strengthens us. And when He deems us ready, He will push us to fly!
The Disciples had just completed the most remarkable chapters of their life in being with Jesus, up close and personal. By the time He ascended to Heaven, they must have felt the “Light” was green and it was time to take off running.
Hadn’t He given them that imparting Promise, telling them to GO into all the world and spread the gospel? BUT … Jesus said,
I am going to send you what My Father has promised;
but stay in the city
until you have been clothed with Power from on high.
How difficult must that have been, especially with Jesus not visible in the old way? What was the purpose of waiting?
The disciples needed to get used to taking their cues from within instead of without.
They needed to be with each other, as apostles in the making, who were not perfect like Jesus was. They needed to learn the Truth that they each held only a piece to a giant puzzle, and the Holy Spirit was the Only One Who could put it together.
They needed to learn what Gift Jesus had left them individually and begin to discover how He would use that Gift in connection with the others. They needed to learn how to function as One in heart, mind, soul and spirit.
The Apostles had indeed received a Gift from Jesus. But in this waiting period, they discovered it was one of those Gifts that required plenty of assembly. They had to wait for the One Who could put it all together for God’s Glory!
When Can We GO?
Understanding STOP and WAIT, we might get the idea that we should never GO full speed ahead. So that we are not impulsive, shouldn’t we stop, wait and pray about everything?
Many times there is a need for quick action and we stop and wait because we are not sure we are up to the task at hand. We may not be sure it is God Who is calling for action. Or we may know God is calling, but we aren’t ready to do what He is saying. We believe we are doing right by saying, “I’ll pray about it.”
Don’t get confused. Praying about it is always the right thing to do. But sometimes those prayers will come as we move forward to do the part we do understand. But wait — what if we have no clue where we are going?
God knows where we are going. He has The Plan and He said it’s a Good One. We can trust Him.
“For I know The Plans I have for you,”
declares The Lord.
“Plans to prosper you
and not to harm you,
Plans to give you Hope and a Future!”
What we if look down that dark road and we can’t see that Future? Well, Jesus had that one covered too. He said,
Therefore, I tell you,
“Do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink;
or about your body,
what you will wear.
Is not Life more than food,
and the body more than clothes?”
If we keep trying to make out that future around the bend, we will not see where Jesus’ Feet are to know where to follow Him. He never promised to give us enough Light to see all of the Road Ahead. But He did Promise to give us enough Light for our path with Him. Let’s look at how God said His Light comes to us.
Your Word is a Lamp unto my feet,
and A Light upon to my path!
When we are moving, even if we get the message not to run ahead, either in our thoughts or with our feet, it still is tempting to look around and see what others are doing. If their path looks especially interesting, it may be tempting to leave Jesus for just a moment and look at what is going on with our traveling companions. Don’t!
Satan is a master of distraction. He too will appear to provide light. We may be sure he will not show us our future with him. If he did, very likely we would not go. Ignore any other voice, but God/Jesus/The Holy Spirit. Follow their Signal only!
Peter, the distractible, impulsive Peter, once was bold enough to ask Jesus about His Plans for one of the other disciples. Jesus did not say, “None of your business,” but He put it this way.
If I want him to remain alive
until after I return,
what is that to you?
You must follow Me!
So when The Light says it is time to GO, we move instantly. We don’t try to look too far into the future. We don’t get off the path with our traveling companions. We watch for Jesus’ Light illuminating our path, step by step.
Just one more question. If Jesus’ Way turns out not to be what I want, can I make a U Turn?
God has given you free will. He will never take that Gift back. So, yes, you choose which way you go, including any U Turns. However, know that Jesus made it clear how He felt about any choice to go back.
No one who puts a hand to the plow
and looks back
is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.
Do We Really Need A Spiritual Signal Light in Our Lives?
Like the people of my hometown, I learned I really needed God’s Signal Light in my Life. When I get ready to go rushing off into my day, I sometimes smile to hear my father’s voice from long ago, “Remember The Light!”
Points to Ponder
How aware are you at every moment of God’s Guidance in your life?
Do you consider God’s Directions to you to be Loving Guidance or meddling in your business?
If you chose to ignore the signals of a signal light, what might be the consequences? Can you adhere to their directions sometimes, but choose what you want to do at others? What might be the consequences of not following God’s Light?
Think of a time when you got clear spiritual direction to STOP. What happened when you stopped?
Think of a time when you were really on a spiritual roll and you wanted to keep going, and God said, “WAIT!” How did that feel? After the time of waiting, did you see a purpose in waiting? If you have not seen a purpose in the waiting, ask God to reveal to you what He wants you to know.
How quick are you to GO when God says GO? If He were to tell you to follow Him, in the same way He called The Disciples, would you drop everything at that very moment and instantly follow Him?
How much does “trust” have to do with “following?” Do you trust God completely … or do you have to think about it when He calls you?