I had four traffic jams in four days this week. They ranged from the slight delay to the appointment-missing-day-reshuffling kind. There is little you can do when you see a series of red lights on the road in front of you. Historically I would, if possible, try and find an alternate route and I was happy enough travelling miles out of my way, as long as I kept moving. It was the sitting, not mov-ing that would frustrate me most. However over the years, I’ve not been convinced that my ‘going the alternate route’ actually got me to my destination quicker (especially when I got lost!). Some-times it is better to stay still for a while and then things eventually get going again. (And here’s a mystery … ever been in a traffic jam and you’re thinking maybe an accident or road works and then when you get going you can’t find any reason for why you stopped?! Bizarre.)
Traffic jams or congestion are only that if we assume that we can travel the roads as if we were the only ones on them. If I plan that a trip to Coventry will take me 3 hours instead of dividing distance by speed limit and adding a little bit then of course my perspective, diary, and activi-ties will change. People who regularly commute make these calculations with local knowledge all the time – and so do I – I’m writing this because this week I was ‘caught’ four days in a row.
‘Caught’ of course is my perspective emphasising that I’m not doing what I want. What I faced is part of life – not being in control. Except of my behaviour. I didn’t choose to sit behind the wheel idling but that doesn’t have to make me idle. The ambulances racing past can be a cause for prayer. I can do other work – in my head – using technology (switch off the engine) – read a book – listen to a(nother) podcast – and in warm weather, wind down the window and chat to fellow non-travellers.
I would say that from God’s perspective, I’m not caught at all. I’ve been given this moment in which to live – to live in a relationship with him in this case maybe to pause and not be so busy (a prized quality in our society) and spend some time … well, that depends. The same might be said for being ‘caught’ at other times – when you feel trapped or stuck in a relationship, when bad things come crashing on top of you, when things don’t go the way we’d planned, when prayers are not answered as far as we can tell (especially when the situation we want gone or resolved still exists) it can be easy to get angry, lash out, make detours, try and get to our destination an-other way, and so on. Whatever we do, we need to realise that we had choices and the responsi-bility for our behaviour is ours. Why do we do what we do?
For all sorts of reasons! I find it intriguing to contemplate that Jesus must have lived his life much the same way as I do – responding to the events, circumstances, and people of the moment – and he behaved with two goals in mind – always – that of following the will of his Father and what was best for the other person. That’s a perspective to keep in mind when reading all the gospels because, I think, we default into thinking of Jesus as genie or helper but he didn’t come to heal everyone and his words on many occasions were ‘tough’ and he created controversy and as well congratulations. Yet everything he said and did was for their good. Oh, Lord, how can I do like-wise?! — GS