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Traffic Flow

four way stopOne at a time. Let’s all take turns. You, first, then you. We’ll alternate. We can be nice and wait our turn. What’s a little backup at the stop sign? First come, first served.

All good, until we had servers. Computer servers, that is. Now, everything downloads at once and I am frantically sifting and sorting, jumping from thing to thing. Attending to each in the order they entered just isn’t working. I’m falling further and further behind. So many fall through the cracks and sift their way into the abyss. Heaven help them if they toggle past the first screen.

Oh, I miss you 4-way stop sign. So quaint. So fair. So ineffective.

traffic lightTime to put in a traffic light. You there. You stop and wait. This line of cars, come on through. So much more efficient to build up a bit of momentum. Take out all those stops and starts. Handle everything going one way before switching directions. Just…one…more. Watch out for that pedestrian! Whew! Running the yellow, it’s a way of life.

But my, the impatience of the the ones waiting at the red. Their faces are grim, their hands gripping the wheel with whitening knuckles. How dare you make me wait. I have somewhere to be. I need an answer. I’ll just be a moment. I need a hearing. Hey, you signed up to have me come!

I look at those faces and the backup that builds, and the guilt starts to prickle, the sweat begins to pour. Delete. delete. Delete. There! Be free!

No! Come back. I want to know what you have to say. I want to help if I can. I subscribed because you have what I want, know what I don’t, connect me with what I am not.

Oh, red light and green light. Perhaps an officer could help direct traffic. This 4-way has now grown to 6 and soon will be 8. We’ll need an interchange. Anyone know how to construct a clover leaf? trafficThen we can pass without stopping; we can keep on moving without yielding, without slowing. That will get us there much faster.

But where? Where, without intersections, will we interact and alternate. Where will we mix and match if we avoid each other altogether?

Let’s get dirty

News happens fast. It’s happening all the time. Get it in progress. Don’t wait. Be the first to know. The kids are all over it. Facebook, twitter, newsfeeds, friend’s posts, discussion boards….emails? They are like the Pony Express. Who has time for the land route when there’s air travel?

We consume news. And we are gorging ourselves. We have to either chew it up and spit it out or swallow it whole and hope it doesn’t get stuck on the way down. Force feeding leaves little time to breathe.

Which is why we glom onto the ‘spiritual path.’ Take it easy. Take it slow. Take your time. Meander. Just breathe. It feels so good to slow down. But that’s not life. At least not the life that comes at me fast. I need resources for this life. Rest and recovery just feels like a cold towel over the head in our neutral corners. When the bell sounds I have to head back into the ring.

I believe God is in the ring. He sends us in, sits in our corner, cheers us on —  all at the same time — because he was the first competitor. But He doesn’t send us in without resources. Oh, we aren’t to bring anything with us. No, our ammunition and weaponry is in our hands, and our heads and our hearts. Hard fought and hard won. We come prepared.

I’m afraid that inviting people into the ease of a faithful life is a lie. It’s a nice image, but it doesn’t last. That, to me, cannot be God.

But a life that sprints from here to there, to yonder and back, that worries and hurries and puts down roots only to tear them up again. That doesn’t sound like God either.

So what gives?

I’m being called into a writing life. I want to right goodness on the page. Not just for acclaim or praise, but to make people feel better. About themselves. About their world. About life. I want to write the happy ending. But I don’t live in a place of endings. I live in a tangle of pathways.

I read:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~ Philippians 4:8

I see the straight path. I wanna point my finger and say, but friends this way is the right way. Think about a world like that!  Full of nobility and right, pure loveliness, nothing but praise. Just imagine!

How can I live this in a world as disjointed and spastic and dishonoring as mine?

I have to move at its pace. Perhaps even faster. Now that’s frightening. But really, can God not take that pace? My worry comes from my standing at the center and shooting out in all directions at once. Let me do this and that. Let me go here and there. Each time, back-pedaling to the center like I’m tethered by a rebounding rope. A puppet on an elastic string. That is not God.

I read today, “Reverence requires a certain pace. It requires a willingness to take detours, even side trips, which are not part of the original plan.” Yes! But we mistake that to mean we are to do this slowly and gently. To meander. What if we detour –  at the pace of the world? Could we so trust the rightness of the True Path, that we would dare dart to and fro for the sake of collecting the dirt and grime of the world? That there we would dig into what’s in error, investigate harsh practices, correct misconceptions, re-orient those who are mis-guided, in the complete confidence that this, too, is God’s way. Of sweeping all whom He loves back to Himself.

And He has sent us. Quickly. Right now. Because time is short. In fact, our destination is just around the bend. Let’s not shy away from the pace, or worse, chastise those who are keeping up. Let’s go there thinking about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, not as carriers of a banner, but as bearers of good news. Lets get dirty, for God’s sake.

Just on time

It’s a funny thing about the pace of life these days. It hurries me. I’ve got 24 hours just like the next girl, so why is it that I always seem to be running late?

It was Sunday and I was late for church again. Brushing my teeth and grabbing the earrings that were easiest to put on, texting my friend that I was “on my way,” I tear off my offering envelope leaving a ragged edge, scribble something on the check and pray for a few red lights on the way so I can fill in the date and sign the darn thing. Funny, isn’t it, to pray for red lights when I’m already running late for worship.

But God answered with a nice long red light a mere quarter mile before I reached the turn for the church parking lot. I exhaled, threw it in park and pulled out that check. Scribbled in the date, signed my name then moved my pen to the memo line. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the folks in the turn lane going. My time was running out. Quickly, and in a hand-writing no human could read, I wrote, offering.

And that stopped me cold. Really? Was this my offering? My rush to attend worship. My pushing the speed limit? My jockeying for which was the quickest lane to get me ahead in traffic. Really?

In writing that word, I all at once, came face to face with offering. Not with what I shoved in the envelope (Now I’m not sure I even wrote my name on the outside.) but with what I brought to worship. And, ironically, I did not feel the pointing finger of chastisement I certainly deserved. No. Gone was the hurry. It had been replaced with “be quick, on purpose.” Somehow that was something I could do.

I pulled into the church lot, all the way to the back, leaving the closer spaces for the folks who needed them. I even offered a few quick words to my Maker as I shut off the car, grabbed the cell phone and joined the others who were walking smartly from their cars toward the doors held open by greeters for the morning. I even engaged in a little lighthearted banter with the other guy doing what I was, dodging cars and traffic while trying to find the button to silence his cell phone.

“Trying to silence the cell,” I say sheepishly, falling in stride.

“Me too,” he says, as we both look up and move left to avoid the oncoming car.

“They’re probably going, oh those darn people on their cell phones!” I say and smile. Of course, that’s what I would be thinking.

“Yep, and here in the church parking lot, for goodness sake!” He says and we both laugh.

We both stash our phones in time to accept the handshake of the greeter, smiling from his open doorway. I have never met the tall, blondish man who greets me with the very welcoming smile. Really wish I could remember the name on his name tag because he offered me the perfect greeting, “You’re not late. You’re just on time.”

I walked in and glanced at my watch. Sure enough, 9:15. Just on time. I slipped into a pew, greeted a few people already in seats nearby, and found myself oddly prepared for worship ~ given the hurry that consumed me a half hour ago. Offering, on purpose, seemed even to trump time.

I do believe there are times when we are meant to move quickly. But it’s not for our own good. It’s because someone where we’re going needs us to be there. Those are times to move quickly, with a purpose. It won’t feel like hurry.

It’ll probably feel more like God’s pace. I expect it was the pace of my friend the greeter on Sunday morning, arriving early, so he could offer a handshake of forgiveness, that showed no judgment, just welcome. Just on time.

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