What I Learned from a Traffic Jam

You know the frustration – you had (just barely) enough time to make it to your destination, and suddenly all you see in front of you is brake lights. Brake lights all the way to the next hill or curve in the road.

Photo by Aayush Srivastava on Pexels.com

So was the scene one day several months ago (I’ve been thinking about this since) when my kids and I bid our hiking buddies farewell and hit the Interstate to make it to an appointment 15 miles to the west. We had about 17 minutes, and at 72 miles per hour, it would’ve been perfect timing.

Until traffic stopped. There’s a weird thing about this stretch of Interstate in western Wisconsin. It’s literally been under construction for at least the last 7 years. Sure, it’s a different lane or a different shoulder, but some detail is incessantly being re-worked, so at first I thought, “Ugh, they’re tearing it up again. It took all of two days to transition from Winter Driving to Construction Driving. Just great – with brake lights as far as I can see, I doubt we’ll make it on time now.” Of course, the nearest exit ramp was beyond all the now-parked cars. Yes, some edgy folks hopped over to the eastbound lane at the Emergency Vehicles Only turnaround reserved for ambulances and snow plows….but I didn’t have the guts to do that. And I really didn’t have the guts to go flying down the shoulder like one motorcyclist brazenly did.

So I sat. Grumbled. Felt guilty that if we had left even 5 minutes earlier, we possibly could’ve avoided this delay. Complained that sitting still in the sun with a dying air conditioner was uncomfortable. Refereed a squabble in the back. Called to give a memo that there was no way we’d make our appointment in time. Sighed. And sat, sat, sat.

Meanwhile, I was watching the oncoming traffic, wishing they could signal to us how many more miles of sitting/crawling at 2 miles per hour we needed to endure before we’d pass whatever annoyance was stopping traffic. The longer I sat there, coaxing the kids to act civilized, the more I thought about the oncoming traffic. They’d already seen what was still ahead for all of us heading west. They knew whether it was construction or an accident. They knew how much farther we had to crawl.

And it hit me. God was, in this instance, like the oncoming traffic. He knows what’s ahead.

Fellow authors, do you ever wonder why your writing career hasn’t taken off like you dreamed it would? Have you begged God for affirmation that you should continue investing those talents He entrusted you with? The traffic jam showed me that He knows what you need to get through, step-by-step, in His timing. Maybe He’s still preparing your audience. Maybe He needs you to develop perseverance and grit, and this is the best way to accomplish that character building. Maybe any number of variables need to line up before you’ll have success. (Note: Success is measured in many ways, and I am learning that often our idea of success is not the same as God’s idea of success. You may long for book sales, but God may count your faithfulness and character growth as success! I highly recommend my friend Allyson’s free eBook Writing by Faith for oodles more on this topic!)

Parents, do you ever worry that your child is behind, whether physically, emotionally, or regarding a certain skill? Do you ever ask God to “fix” your child? The traffic jam showed me that the kids are probably developing just fine, at their own God-given pace, and the characteristics I worry about today will be ironed out before they fly from the coop. Remember, we’ve got miles to hone skills before they’ll launch. Yes, time flies, but God can already see exactly what they need between here and there.

Small business owners, do you get frustrated when potential customers choose to go with the well-known company rather than your honest, small company? Take a breath. What feels like lost time to you might be the perfect time to fortify your business’s infrastructure, so that by the time customers are weary of the big company’s corporate policies, your business is ready for an influx.

Christians, do you get down on yourself because another year has passed and you still struggle with the same old sin? You know the one. It’s two steps forward, one step back. Just as soon as you make progress in overcoming it, it rears its ugly head again. Well you’re still moving forward, and God will not forsake you. Besides, your ongoing struggle increases your compassion for others in the same boat, and you’re learning to be strengthened by God as you battle the sin.

Are you burdened because a loved one is still sick? After all these years of treatment and proactive steps? But if all along, their reliance on God and trust in His promises has been growing, then the spiritual reward will be well-worth the physical battle.

Trust God. He knows what you’ll face in the upcoming miles, and He has a reason for mapping your journey that way. Plus, He will give you the strength to endure and thrive.

Comment below with your thoughts on this topic!

2 thoughts on “What I Learned from a Traffic Jam

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