Saturday, May 11, 2013

Life, at an Average 20 Miles per Hour


I have a new job. For this, I am thankful.

The job is with a Christian non-profit organization outside of Atlanta. Their focus is on discipleship, and the focus of my job will be on the written word. I love the Bible. I love writing. I love the church. And I love discipleship. So, all things considered, this should be right up my alley.

The job comes with the usual benefits: health, dental, vision, paid time off. But it comes with one more add-on I’m not so excited about: traffic. My commute can take me anywhere from 45 minutes (if I leave my house wicked early) to two hours and change (if there’s a drop of rain). And these times are the best I’ve been able to do thus far by avoiding all the major points of congestion. These times are the back-road, shortcut-after-shortcut, get-creative, drive-through-farm-land times. Needless to say, this has taken some getting used to. And I’d be lying if I said I was doing okay with my new life-is-a-highway reality.

I start my day each morning praying for a helicopter or a teleportation device, but when neither machine is in my driveway, I get on with my drive. I listen to music and audiobooks, and I try to catch up with old friends on the phone. No matter what I do, though, I now have big chunks of time Monday through Friday where my life is forcibly put on hold.

This morning, a Sunday without my commute, I thought about my new stop-and-go life. And I tried to figure out why it annoyed me so. Sure, at six o’clock in the afternoon, I’m hungry, and I want to get to my house or my fiancĂ©e’s to eat dinner as quickly as I can. But that problem can be nullified by a late afternoon snack. I think it’s more than that.

My birthday is in a couple of weeks, and I’m rushing headlong into another year of life. I think my frustration with traffic is really frustration with what seems to be wasted time. I’m not getting any younger, and where I’m at is not quite where I thought I’d be. It seems like I have so much lost time to make up for and so much left to do. My commute is a daily reminder of this struggle I feel.

I know God is in control of my career, my ministry, and every other part of my life. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for what He’s given me. I really do consider myself blessed. But If I’m honest, I have to confess that, by my own standards, I often feel like a failure, that I don’t measure up, and that I’ve not been able to be all that God has called me to be. Instead of being many miles further down the road, I’m staring at a sea of red taillights.

When the fruit of the Spirit is on display in my life, the patience part still appears green—not quite ripe yet. I’m working on it, and I’m thankful that God’s still working on me. This timetable in my head is no doubt a product of the sinful nature that’s still being put to death within me. God is writing my story, and even if this chapter seems to be dragging on, it is His chapter to write. 

In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes this:
“Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them” (1 Corinthians 7:17, NIV).
Paul is not saying that God never moves people, or that He never acts to change a person’s situation. Rather, he’s letting the Corinthians know that God was just as in control of the universe before they came to know Him as He is now. God has called us to live life right where He has us—at least for the moment. He’ll let us know if and when it’s time to move on, but it’s not our job to maneuver our way out of the places He’s put us. We are not behind schedule. The pace of life is in His control.

I will try to think about that tomorrow while I navigate back roads behind a line of cars that never seems to end. I think there’ll be comfort in it.

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