I’m sitting in traffic as I write this.
I don’t mean the backed-up-at-a-red-light kind of traffic. I wish I could write a blog post that quickly. No, I’m talking about the “highway is closed ahead due to two semis and a truck” kind of traffic. That’s according to a lady in a mini-van who apparently has inside knowledge from highway patrol somewhere to my rear.
She passes me slowly, the lady in the minivan, as I stand outside my car with half a dozen other people, stretching our legs. She rolls by half on the median as she tries to find a place where the median is a little less ditch-like in the hopes of crossing over.
“They said they have no idea how long it could be or what they are doing!” She shouts encouragingly as she rolls by.
I am glad I recently made a pit stop, considering this part of Interstate 70 consists of nothing but wide-open fields with nary a bit of cover until darkness falls.
A few vehicles brave the small ditch in the median and do make it across, but most of us are sitting. Or standing.
The couple next to me have Kansas plates and a yellow lab they take for a walk. Ahead of me is a flatbed truck and behind me is a semi. I watch the sun set and the moon rise.
And I wait.
Our part of the highways turns to darkness. While headlights still pierce the eastbound lanes, our cars sit silent. No headlights, no flashing hazards. Only the occasional interior light or flash of a mobile device as someone rummages in their trunk. It’s remarkably quiet for sitting in the middle of a highway.
I’m mid-sentence on my keyboard when the world outside suddenly changes. Maybe it’s because I’m preoccupied, but the suddenness of the change catches me off guard. There is light and noise and movement. I toss my laptop on to the passenger seat, bring my car to life, and punch the gas. I had expected a gradual start-up, but in seconds I’m flying down the highway. The very last thing you want to do is stay in the middle of a highway with an entire line of cars behind you that have been sitting for two hour and are now ready to go.
Another mile down the road the congestion comes back. We move in starts and stops, bypass the crash scene, and then finally – finally – begin to move at a steady pace.
Isn’t that so like life?
You’re hurtling along only to come to a screeching halt. A sudden change and you jump from 0 to 60 only to hit another road block. You stop and start. You detour. The stretches of smooth sailing sometimes seem few and far between.
We have a leader in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but that doesn’t mean the path is always clear. Like the Israelites following the pillar of fire in the desert, we don’t always know in advance when it’s time to go, or when it’s time to stay, or even which direction we’ll be headed next.
God grant to us the wisdom to know that when there is no clear path forward it may be time to sit and wait. And when the road suddenly opens up in front of us, let us be ready to punch the gas so we don’t get run over from behind.
Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate programs for Purdue University’s College of Engineering and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. In her spare time, she likes to eat other people’s cooking and hike with her dog, Marly, who recently passed away but is not forgotten. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at www.mustardpatch.org.