Have you felt frustration with projects and people under construction?
This story stirred on a hot afternoon while waiting in line for the man standing in the middle of Hwy. 24 to turn his sign from stop to slow. Most people reading this have waited in those same long lines as one of the most important highways in our nation is under reconstruction.
Being thankful for the countless hours many local people devoted in making this highway project possible, I constantly check my attitude when those long lines linger and do as Paul taught… “think on things that are lovely’! In my mind, I visualize completion while dealing with construction! What a wonderful ending awaits when we finally experience several lanes for drivers, wide sidewalks for pedestrians, cleared entrances and exits for business owners, and no more orange neon drums and cones to keep us moving forward in the right direction. Therefore, while waiting without frustration, there are lessons to learn and blessings to behold.
The first lesson deals with how we deal with construction (situations) in our lives. For years, we listened to pros and cons and read articles about the need for widening the road that goes through our city and where the new stretches of this important highway should go. People living in closest proximity to the highway have seen property lines change, homes moved, and daily dealing with construction crews and redirected traffic.
They could complain constantly to no avail; change is hard even with compensation. Roads will be built with eminent domain in place and people affected adjusting to changes. In the beginning, I watched beautiful yards I have admired for years take a beating – even vanish – and wondered how the families felt who made the flower gardens and manicured their lawns. In time, those same home sites have made it through the mess and look marvelous. Yet, some yards that were torn up still show signs of upheaval.
People’s lives are much the same. The process and recovery period of going through changes (construction) can keep us in a mess or bring miracles from our messes. We make the choices that determine the direction our lives will take. Many are traveling roads of despair and depression because of unwillingness to accept change, deal with change, and go forth in faith that God will take care of us through changes and construction in our lives, as He does for the sparrows. He promises to bring beauty from the ashes, to bring good from the bad things we are dealt according to His purpose for our lives, and to bring joy in the morning from tears shed through the night. Knowing that God keeps His Word keeps us singing as we go through changes and construction that can make us beautiful in His sight! Accepting change and asking God to work with us while we are under construction can provide parables (little stories with power and purpose to promote the love of Jesus) to proclaim, shower us with blessings to share along the way, and give us joy on our journeys.
The second lesson comes from God giving us free will to make choices. Life is like a ribbon of highway that takes us places to experience beauty and blessings or to be burdened and bitter throughout our journeys. We may not like the reconstruction we must endure when changes come to our lives but we must face them with faith and move forward. Happiness is a choice and comes when we surrender our all and freely give Jesus the reins to guide us by His example and give us instruction through God’s Word.
However, happiness comes only when we are willing to take steps of faith and be receptive to changes along life’s highway. We never change our belief in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or compromise what we know is right and good in God’s sight and His Word, but we face changes that come whether we like them or not (death of loved ones, loss of jobs due to changes within companies or within us, hurt from family members or friends who color our world with love yet break our hearts, social injustices, political differences, divorce, storms of all kinds that can turn our lives upside down) with a childlike faith and complete trust in our Lord to look after us through the process of reconstruction.
Throughout our lives we are under construction and make choices to stay closely connected to Christ through it all with blessed assurance that Jesus is yours and mine with a foretaste of glory divine, or to stay stuck in bitterness, sadness, sorrow, anger, frustration, disbelief, and denial with calloused and unforgiving hearts that keep us captive here and stuck in a place where God is not… for eternity. The choices we are making now will determine our happiness here and in Heaven forever or horror here and in Hell forever.
The third lesson is learning to lean on Jesus, to walk with Him through the tough and triumphant times, never to get ahead of Him and take things in our own hands, or to lag behind Him and be lazy or complacent in the calling He gives to each of His children. This came to mind recently while driving in traffic along the stretch of Hwy. 24 near Walmart where drivers are forced to merge into one lane. For weeks, years it sometimes seemed, I pulled up to the stoplight and witnessed choices people (including me) make in such situations. Many drivers would wait patiently in the lane that would continue to be the one lane road taking them through the congested area.
Some drivers practiced patience behind slower drivers taking every precaution to get through the congestion and stay in the right lane. Yet, there were always cars that whizzed by other drivers in the lane that would shortly end. Drivers would cut in and do what my children at The Learning Station complain about when hot, tired, and desperate to get to the water fountain…’cutting in line’! One morning on my way to work, a lady did just that! She sped up beside me in a frantic race to get ahead of the cars in the lane that kept them on track for the one lane road. She almost caused an accident but kept going full speed ahead.
I’ve watched drivers allow people to cut in to get on the right lane and others refuse to budge in order to help a fellow traveler get back on the straight and narrow road that leads through the construction zone. I must confess attitude makes all the difference in how we react to people in need of ‘cutting in’, of getting back where they are supposed to be. I found myself feeling frustrated during the heat of a summer day when intense construction increased delays and dilemmas for drivers who were in the right lane and those trying to get back in the right lane. Three or four drivers looked annoyed with their car’s blinkers begging for attention and admittance. Many cars on the right road turned a blind eye to those in need; others slammed on brakes as desperate people pushed their way back to where they needed to be all along.
One lady’s annoyed look when I did not stop for her to enter caused her to speed and me to check my actions and attitude when she gave me a thumbs up after darting in front of my car without hesitation. Her choice to speed with intentions of cutting in and mine to make her entrance miserably difficult could have caused us to crash.
I watched as she turned on Hwy. 421, wondered where she was headed in such a hurry, and asked God to forgive me for an attitude of arrogance. I thought of what Jesus would do and would want us to do in similar situations. We can be in such a hurry that we miss opportunities to entertain angels unaware. We can be so proud of ourselves for making good choices, living closely connected to Christ, and staying on the right road that we forget the power of putting others before ourselves and helping people in need (whether they have good or bad attitudes, right or wrong motives, believers or non- believers)!
We are not to judge others but to love them and offer a helping hand as did the Good Samaritan. God judges with consequences for sin and forgiveness for sinners who repent and get back on the right road. We are called to share the good news of Jesus and live out loud in love, even when reconstruction can cause frustration. When we are on the straight, narrow, right road that God calls us to travel…we will have many opportunities to help people who have lost their way and made poor choices become reconnected to Christ and get back on the right road.
While traveling the road that gives happiness here and eternal happiness in Heaven, we can be cool, calm, and collected in the worst of storms and construction zones. We possess the peace and joy of knowing we made good choices while under construction, the satisfaction of living a life on earth connected to Christ, and the promise of everlasting life in Heaven! Can you imagine the great reunion of loved ones gone before, saints of old, and Jesus waiting to let us in with arms open wide? What a glorious day of rejoicing it will be when we get to Heaven!
Finally, traveling the right road with clean hearts and helping hands, believing and being all God has called us to be and do, checking our actions and attitudes each day – keeping Christ close and the devil away, fostering faith instead of frustration, and letting those on the wrong road ‘cut in’ when they repent and realized that life is not worth living without Christ. God desires for us to stay connected, trust and obey, keep our eyes on Jesus, love one another, and enjoy our journey! Then our end will not be living in misery somewhere without Him. God will guide and give us instructions to reach our final destination in His perfect timing!
Can you imagine Heaven? There will be no more construction, chaos, or confusion about what is right and wrong, about loving and living for the Lord that man complicated on Earth. There will be people waiting in line to welcome us who could have ‘cut in’ to the right road because of our right actions. There will be an eternity of happiness we can only imagine.
Therefore, I dare not write what heaven will be, but I do turn on an emergency blinker through the stories He sends ‘…for such a time as this’! We do know what God shares in the scriptures about the place He has gone to prepare for us. We know Heaven is real and have heard testimonies from people who have gone there and come back to tell their stories. We know time is nigh as the fulfillment of God’s Word is happening before our eyes.
Let us joyfully live connected to Christ and allow Him to keep us under His construction until our time here is done. And then, we can hear the words that will be music to our ears, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”
Becky Spell Vann is the owner and operator of Tim’s Gift and The Learning Station.