Traffic signs are supposed to warn us, inform us, caution us, redirect us, or slow us down. They tell us how fast we are supposed to be going. They help us know where we are and where we are going.
You could preach a series of sermons on traffic signs. I have. If you think about it, life is full of signs. Some of them are relational signs. In a friendship, in a marriage, within a family, with colleagues, with every social interaction, there are signs present to let us know how we are doing. Some relational signs are brightly lit with flashing bulbs warning us that we better pay attention. Some are far more subtle, requiring that we slow down and use all our senses. A man says to his obviously perturbed wife, “What’s wrong dear?” She responds, “Nothing.” Okay, guys. What’s your next step? If you decide on “Well then, everything must be okay,” you just missed a sign and there’s a big speed bump ahead.
Some signs are health-related. Your body is trying to signal you that something’s not right. You can see it or feel it but you choose to ignore it. “Stop” signs usually indicate that a behavior doesn’t just need to be adjusted; it needs to stop. A “Yield” sign might mean that the stress you’re under needs to let up or you’ll have a stroke. A “Road Narrows” sign might mean you really need to focus on changing some habits that are hurting you. The doctor holds up a sign in a check-up to warn a patient to start exercising. He says, “I want you to walk five miles a day for two weeks and then call me so I’ll know how you’re doing.” The man agrees. Two weeks later, the doctor gets a call from the man: “Okay doc, I’ve been walking just like you said, five miles every day.” The doctor congratulates the man and tells him to come in to the office the next day. “I don’t know if I can make it tomorrow,” the man says. When asked why, the man replies, “Well, doc, I’ve been doing like you told me but now I’m 70 miles from home.”
Some signs are a bit confusing, even discouraging, like these actual signs posted side by side:
- “Cemetery Road” and “Dead End” – People are dying to go down that road
- “Welcome to First Baptist” and “Do Not Enter” over driveway – friendly folks
- “Slow Children at Play” and “Hunting with Shotgun Only” – go faster kids
- “School Zone” and “No Passing” – that’s a tough school
- “Surgery Parking Only” and “5 Minute Limit” – outpatient surgery on steroids
- “Touching Wires Causes Instant Death” and “$200 Fine”- when do you pay, before or after?
Some signs are spiritual. When our prayer life grows stale or our time in the Word becomes infrequent, there are indications of distance and disconnection in our faith. I appreciate the sign that should be posted on each of us. Paul wrote to the Philippians that there is a construction sign above every believer: “He who began a good work in you will continue His work until it is finished” (11:6). Some construction projects just seem to go on forever. I’m glad the one God is managing will be complete in His time and in His way.