Last Friday, we were on I-85, an hour north of Charlotte, heading to a Panthers pre-season game. I saw the DOT sign: “heavy congestion ahead 10 miles.” I didn’t really pay attention. I didn’t really believe it. “Probably someone forgot to change the message. We’re cruising along perfectly… it’s gonna be alright.” I was already tasting the Spaghetti at Sue’s mom’s house.
A few more minutes passed. A few more miles. Some red tail lights up ahead. Now, red brake lights. But still we’re moving near the speed limit. I checked the INRIX traffic app, and the southbound interstate was red—indicating traffic at a stop—very close to us, but our blue dot was still rolling. I wasn’t convinced INRIX was right, and passed by the exit.
The last exit. Within ¼ mile, we were dead stopped. We’d move a few yards here or there. But it took 8 minutes to go less than half a mile.
I didn’t heed the warnings, I waved them off. Things were going smoothly, we were sailing along. Until it was too late. Now I was stuck in the thick of the traffic jam. Then I finally checked the note on INRIX: “accident at exit 60. 58 minute delay.” (Exit 60 was a good 6 miles ahead).
Lose an HOUR?!?! No way. We can’t afford to. Kickoff is counting down. There was only one way out of this jam: Turn around. At a break in the highway divider, I snuck through, turned our van around, and headed north. I was the 4th car to do so. We took side roads to by-pass the accident.
The only way out of that traffic jam was to turn around. As I was sitting there—with plenty of time to think—it occurred to me: this is a parable of my life. So often I ignore the warning signs of trouble ahead, and I careen right into a traffic jam in life.
- The kids are pressing my buttons, I can tell they are doing it (they might not even know it), and I blow my top. I knew I was going to.
- The dumb show or movie that you really shouldn’t watch, but, well, you know, you’re home alone tonight… I’ll just watch the first 5 minutes…
- The little twinge of jealousy when your boss starts to praise a coworker, or when your neighbor starts to say how great so-and-so is. You drop a little sarcasm to put them down a bit. The rest jump on and it becomes real gossip, real fast.
- The misunderstanding with your wife. She said, he said. But, really, she needs to come to me to apologize. Though, maybe I was too harsh. Nah, I’m going to bed.
We see the warning signs all over the place… but it seems that we just keep careening into the traffic jam.
The only thing to do is get out. Drive across the grass, through the highway divider, and head north. The bible’s word for this is to “repent”. That means to change your thinking, to turn 180 degrees.
When Peter told the Jerusalem crowd who Jesus REALLY is (The One and Only World-Rescuer), they said, “what do we do?” He answered: “Repent and be baptized. Every one of you for the forgiveness of sins.”
Turn around, trust who Jesus is, and let him get you out of the traffic jam mess your life has become. He’s written the DOT signs and INRIX app that we’ve ignored. But, still, he will help us when we call. Repent: call out to him and say, “I’m on the way wrong direction. Will you take over?”
This is the only doorway to your days being filled with His purposes and your joy. How many more traffic signs will you ignore?