SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE THERE’S SIGNS
“They’re not just for decoration.” That’s what I tell my beginning drivers as they nervously drive down the road with tunnel vision, never reading the myriad of signs lining the roadside. Signs warn us of potential hazards ahead. They inform us of services up the road. They regulate traffic flow in order to keep everyone safe. But they only work if people read them and obey them!
Likewise, God has given us many traffic laws and signs to ensure us safe travel through life. They warn us of dead end streets. They set limits and prohibit reckless living. They bring safety and blessings if we obey them. If we ignore them, we may find ourselves upside down in a ditch—or worse. Listen to the words of Moses:
Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess. But I warn you: If you have a change of heart, refuse to listen obediently, and willfully go off to serve and worship other gods, you will most certainly die (Deut 30:16-18).
So, turn the radio down, stop putting on your make-up, put down the crossword puzzle, silence your cell phones and start reading the signs. Then we will be able to join the psalmist in declaring, “I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted” (Psalm 119:10 MSG).
WARNING LIGHTS & GAUGES
Every car has them. They are the little warning lights on your dash that come on when something needs attention. They are small and hard to see. They are easily ignored and easy to put off until a later time. Yet they are extremely important and can save you much bigger problems in the end if you pay attention to them now.
A few years back, as I was driving from San Diego to Minneapolis, my “Low Coolant” light lit up on my dash. Assuming that things would be fine if I kept pouring in new fluid every time it ran dry, I disregarded the light and never stopped to get it checked out. Only after the entire engine “blew up” outside of Denver did I discover that the coolant was leaking straight into my oil—watering it down until useless. After footing the $2,000 bill for that minor error in judgment, I now pay closer attention to my warning lights.
Every person has their own unique warnings and indicators if we learn to identify them. The most commonly ignored warning light is Low Fuel. In our non-stop world, we will drive for miles after the light has come on, trying to use up every last drop of fuel. Running on empty is bad for a car and it can be even worse for our emotional health. We need to keep our spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical tanks topped off for optimum performance. Just fill ’er up!
Another indicator that is easier to miss is that inner voice—our conscience—that tells us we are in trouble, in danger, or on the wrong path. Sometimes it urges us to turn around. Other times it tells us to pull over, lift up the hood and get help. It warns us that life’s circumstances are reaching a boiling point and we may be in danger of overheating. The clunking sound is only getting louder as we delay getting it looked at. We need to see a spiritual mechanic sooner than later. The problem is beyond our ability to fix.
The human machine—with its confusing network of thoughts and emotions—is far more complex than any four-cylinder engine. If looking under the car hood makes you scratch your head and call a mechanic, then we should not hesitate to seek professional help when our emotional, mental, and spiritual health is in need of a tune-up. And we know the first number to call. Jesus words in Matthew 11 sound almost like an add for a spiritual retreat in the yellow pages:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest (Matt 11:28 MSG).
After a busy day on the road fighting traffic and racing the clock to meetings and appointments, you finally pull into the garage to park the car for the night. Back at home, you are exhausted (pardon the pun), and can’t wait to put your feet up. Before going inside however you make that routine trip to the end of the driveway to get the day’s mail.
Check out next sacred analogy series called “Mailbox.”