I have been on the road a lot recently – here in Indiana, as well as a trip to Wisconsin to lead a Cabinet retreat for them, and next week I will be Iowa for our NCJ College of Bishops meeting. As I travel the many miles, I see many different roadsigns along the way which remind me of our Christian journey and the helpful signs that God provides for us.
STOP SIGNS remind me of the words of the Psalmist, "Be still and know that I am God." In the midst of our busy lives, we all need times to stop and to remember that God is traveling with us. Thus the Bible teaches us to "keep the Sabbath" and modern sports medicine has discovered that an athlete actually does better on 6 days of training followed by a day off, rather than just training 7 days a week.
And so it is with our souls on our journey with God. In the Dakotas, I learned the Native American saying that we need to stop and to "allow our spirits to catch up with our bodies."
YIELD signs remind me to yield my will and my desire to God's guidance. In Isaiah (chapter 30) we are promised that God will be a "voice over our shoulder when we veer to the right or to the left" helping us to find the right way. Of course, we must listen for God's guiding voice, and we must yield to that voice.
It is so easy for any of us to start thinking that our great ideas (especially our religious ideas) must be God's way. We are reminded by Yield signs to make sure that we are yielding our ideas and answers to God's plan for the trip.
ONE WAY signs remind me of the words of Jesus, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." I don't doubt the value of other religions and their moral teachings, but for me Christ is the way, the one way that is most direct to God.
Sometimes I am asked, "What about Buddhists, or Hindus, or even Jews? Are they on the way to God?" Of course, my first answer is that I am not an expert in their religions, I am (hopefully) becoming more and more of an expert in the Christian faith. So, my second answer is that I can only testify to what I know: that for me Christ is the way, the One Way.
MILE MARKERS remind me of God's individual care for us. We are told that God has "numbered the hairs on our heads" and that not even one lowly sparrow falls to the ground without God's caring concern. So, the mile markers remind me of God's care for the various individuals for whom I am concerned. I sometimes (depending upon weather and traffic conditions) watch for the mile markers and pray (with my eyes open) for one person for each mile. The many, many mile markers remind me that my prayer list is numerous, but God's list is even longer.
I recently shared this image of "praying for a person for a mile" with a church where I was preaching. After the worship service, one man came up with a hastilyâ€‘made sign which said, "Mile Marker 186." It was his way of affirming my prayer practice, and it was also his way of asking to be added to my prayer list.
Mile Markers remind me to pray for various family members, friends, and other individuals in the Indiana Conference.
There are other roadsigns along the way, including SPEED LIMIT signs which remind us not to get too far ahead of God. It seems to me that modern medicine needs to remember this sign, because our medical and scientific ability (like cloning of animals) is racing ahead of our ethical ability to make decisions. I also notice warning signs like SLIPPERY WHEN WET which remind me that some issues are just plain slippery, and our human ability needs God's guidance to deal with them. I appreciate signs like DANGEROUS INTERSECTION AHEAD which forewarn me of dangerous places on the journey, and I am reminded that God also seeks to warn us of issues and problems which will be dangerous for us. These and other roadsigns along the way help me with my driving, and they also remind me of my journey with God.
Have you ever ridden with someone who ignores the roadsigns? A few years ago, I had a frightening taxi ride in Rio (Brazil) with a driver who turned off his headlights (so the police wouldn't see him speeding), drove wildly through the streets, and ignored every stop sign, traffic light, and other road sign along the trip. After I recovered from the trip, I thought about how God must want to shout to us: "Stop! Watch for the signs! Don't be foolish Follow the signs along the way!"
As we travel through our journey of faith, I hope that we will all watch for that roadsigns along the way that God has provided.
And I pray:
O Lord, guide us as we travel along the way,
Not just the roads and highways but also through life;
Show us Your signs that guide and warn us
And lead us safely through dangers and strife.
Finding Your way is not always easy,
Sometimes the roads wind and dip and turn;
So show us Your roadsigns as we travel along,
Give us Your guidance and help us to learn.
Thanks for the roadsigns and thanks for the wisdom
That teaches us and shows us Your way;
May our lives move smoothly and safely and wisely
As we follow the signs of Your path today.