If you drive you have probably seen traffic signs that warn there is construction going on: Men at Work, Shoulder Closed, Reduced Speed Ahead, etc. One such sign on the open highway is the caution, “Fines Doubled in Construction Zones.” That means that if your speeding ticket would normally be $100, in a construction zone you’re handing over $200. (Yes, I’m a math genius.) I believe this caution applies to our lives as well as our driving.
There is a lot of growing up that happens in us at every age. We face circumstances and people that require us to think, compromise, problem-solve and sacrifice. Along the way we also learn to love and be loved. Marriage is a wonderful thing that requires much thought, forgiveness, compromise, sacrifice, trust, patience…and it can all be worth it as we grow together in love and acceptance. Raising children, working with others, and circles of friends are all relationships that invite us to grow and become a better form of ourselves. Circumstances like financial problems, missed opportunities, sickness, loss and such things also invite us learn and grow. Or we can put our heads in the sand, grab our pacifiers, sedatives or go-to addictions and wait for the difficulties to pass.
Whether circumstances or relationships, these are construction zones – situations in life that invite us to grow, change and become. The choices we make in our personal construction zones will determine who we become and how quickly we get there. If, for example, you have over-shopped your budget you can either learn to live within your means or just get another credit card to absorb the debt. Which means that one day (probably soon) you will be back in that construction zone with the lesson still to learn. If, however, you begin to live within your financial means you will one day find that you are out of major debt and able to live more sanely. The same holds true for construction zones in relationships, work situations, friendships, etc. When things seem a bit ‘torn up’ in your life go after resolution and growth, not just the quick fix. A few examples:
- You need help with your crabby boss…my boss didn’t change fast enough so I quit my job.
- I needed help with finances…it was too hard so I took out another loan.
- I prayed that I’d get married but God didn’t bring anyone so I started speed dating…or ‘hooking up.’
- I wanted ……. it didn’t happen ………..so I…..
- I prayed…..God didn’t respond quickly….so I…..
I’m embarrassed to admit that I have actually tried to make a deal with God: if I wake up skinny, I promise to stay that way. I almost audibly heard something like, “How about this: stop eating so much.” I’ve lived a long time in the construction zone of food addiction. I am learning.
Whatever you’re going through again, or have gone through before, I encourage you to go after solutions, new habits, better answers and a fuller life. The consequences (fines) of our difficult seasons (construction zones) don’t have to be doubled, tripled and multiplied. We are amazing, capable people with resources, even if as yet undiscovered. Don’t wait, don’t dodge and don’t neglect. Life will continue to hand us tough seasons, but we don’t have to pay double fines. Git ‘er done today.
I understand that this is not an easy issue to tackle, nor is there an easy answer to every need. We really do have go after good information, resources and helpful people. For those who are in relationship with God, we must look at our beliefs about him and his ways. Truth is, we don’t always recognize God’s ways when He is working! And we don’t trust His ways… “he doesn’t understand how hard my job is” or “he won’t give me a mate so I’ll treat every relationship like a marriage…”
A few things I believe we must consider about God and our construction zones.
First, we often question God’s intent. We expect His ultimate goal for us to be the same as our immediate goal: answers to every question, comfort, our needs met, our ‘wannas’ satisfied, end of sadness, end of confusion. Basically our goal is a cleaner, nicer, happier us. But God’s ultimate goal is that we would be shaped into His image. That means we look and act like the One who made us. That’s our best life.
Secondly, we question God’s dependability. While we may start out with a sense of trust or commitment to whatever He directs, we begin to doubt when He doesn’t act fast enough or in the way we want.
Finally, we question God’s kindness or compassion. Sometimes it is God’s very kindness that teaches us patience and trust. It is his mercy and goodness that is shaping the heart of Christ in us. We don’t mind patience, but hurry up already!
We will never be without challenges and opportunities for growth. At my age I often think, “Enough already! I’m old. I don’t want to ‘grow’ anymore!” But alas, I do. I want my life to matter – to God, to me, to my people and to my little corner of the world. That is only possible as I choose to take obstacles and issues in my life as invitations to grow and change. Lord, help me.
The people of Israel had been freed from slavery and were headed to freedom! God didn’t act quickly enough or in the way they wanted. It didn’t turn out well. You’ve maybe seen the movie…now read the book.
Ex 24 through 32
Even when we are living out the consequences of our own choices or actions, God still works on our behalf if we respond to what He’s doing.
Read the great story of the Aramean army in 2 Kings 7.
1 I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made the heavens and the earth!
3 He will not let you stumble and fall;
the one who watches over you will not sleep.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never tires and never sleeps.
5 The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not hurt you by day,
nor the moon at night.
7 The LORD keeps you from all evil
and preserves your life.
8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.
As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord is thinking about me right now.
You are my helper and my savior.