Saturday, September 17, 2011

Caution: Tribulation Ahead

"In the world, you will have tribulation"
John 16:33

I live in Southern California, so at any given time, if I'm in my car, I'm not too far from a freeway.  Southern Californians get to know the freeways they use the most often.  We know the patterns of traffic in different areas.  For instance, you get to know that at certain points, you're gonna want to be in the far left lane to avoid the influx of traffic merging from another freeway.  Or you might get in the habit of getting off the freeway a few miles ahead of your exit at a certain time of day, because you know that surface streets are going to be a little faster than the freeway in that area.  It's a way of life.  And when you come to know the traffic patterns, it makes it easy to accurately plan how long it's going to take you to get from Point A to Point B.

Until there's a problem.  A stalled car; a flat tire; a fender-bender... and you and thousands of other people are caught in the wake.  And the worst?   Construction.  Cal-Trans (California Department of Transportation) does not have a reputation for speedy work.  Now, I don't know how long it takes to accomplish road work.  Maybe the length of time it takes them is perfectly logical.  But it doesn't seem that way.  When you just want to get wherever you're going, and day after day there are cones and orange signs telling you that your route is not going to be smooth, it's frustrating.

Well recently, Cal-Trans has begun doing some construction on the on-ramp nearest to my house, so there's a helpful orange traffic sign warning: "On-ramp will be closed intermittently from 9/1/11 - 9/30/12"

Now, this sort of sign is unusual.  Generally, if they're going to close something, they just close it.  And for some reason, I found this sign annoying.  I know they're trying to be helpful, but telling me there that my on-ramp may or may not be closed at any given time in the next year sounds like a threat, not a warning.

And in a way, the sign is pretty much useless.  Because even before they decided they needed to do road work, there was always the chance that the on-ramp could be closed, right?  Stuff happens.  And whether or not there's a sign there warning me, I need to be ready for the possibility that I need to find an alternate route.

Such is life.  Would you find it helpful if your day began with a warning that said:  "Caution.  Your plans could be intermittently interrupted by car trouble, an unexpected fever, or a phone call that changes your life." ?  Well, that's what today's verse is.  A warning.  James 4 says we should not say "today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.  You do not even know what will happen tomorrow!  Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will love and do this or that."  Any other attitude is arrogance.

So make your plans.  But understand how little control you really have, and that road closures await you.  Be warned, but not afraid.  As the old saying goes, you may not know what the future holds, but you know who holds the future.

~ "In the world you will have tribulation;
 but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." ~
John 16:33  

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