An Early Morning Traffic Jam

[This post is from December 2005 / Rio de Janeiro]

There’s a traffic jam on the street below my apartment. From six floors above I can see what’s causing it. There’s a moving van half way up the street, almost jackknifed. Behind it is a VW that looks something like an accordion. Apparently the truck driver attempted to back into a parking garage and missed.

Behind that, I see about a dozen cars trapped on this narrow one-lane, one-way street. Most of them can’t see the cause of the delay — they just know they’re not moving. And they’re expressing their frustration in the most predictable way: Laying on their horns and shouting as loud as they can.

This has been going for awhile. Horns, angry words, more horns. Obviously the honking strategy isn’t working. Neither is the yelling. Rather than dying down, though, it’s getting louder. I’m not sure what the solution is, but, clearly, increasing the volume isn’t it.

This reminds me of some people I know. (Like me.) I have a tendency to make a lot of noise when things stall up ahead and I can’t see what’s going on. And just like today’s traffic jam, my honking never makes things better. It only adds to the confusion.

have found something that works, though. It doesn’t change the situation; it changes me. It’s the words of King Solomon…

Trust God from the bottom of your heart, don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go, he’s the one who will keep you on track. (Proverbs 3:5-6, The Message)

In the time it’s taken to write this — about a half-hour, between cups of coffee, emails, and staring at the street — the traffic jam has cleared up and everyone has moved on. No real damage done, except to the VW.

Unfortunately, though, for those who were caught up in it, this morning’s mishap may set the tone for the rest of their day. Maybe even their week.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

We need to remember that most of life’s traffic jams clear up eventually. And while we’re stuck, waiting, unable to see what’s happening further up the road, we need to remember that honking doesn’t really help.

Trusting God does, though. Placing yourself in his care and listening for his voice is a strategy that works. Especially when you have no idea what’s causing the holdup. He knows, and he’s the one who can get you through it.

I encourage you to begin this day by deliberately putting yourself in God’s care, trusting him to make your paths straight.

That’s what I aim to do.