Not long ago, my jaw dropped as I calculated how much I had spent on tolls that year. This painful revelation forced me to reexamine my commute. I decided to take the access road to work each morning instead of the highway. But I discovered I pay either way.
I pay in time or in money. In angst or in cash. Unfortunately, I seem to have more of time.
So I pay my time at stoplights.
After two years of navigating stoplights and memorizing their patterns, I have concluded that someone, somewhere, is smiling at me behind some camera.
Maybe it’s God. (He’s smiling at you too.)
Red Light Green Light
As I sit at the empty intersection (with no cross-traffic), I observe all these cameras and sensors with enough technology to catch me when I run the light, but not enough know-how to help me through the light in a timely manner.
The worst is when the stale green light turns yellow and then stops me with no one coming the other way. It seems the technicians who installed the street sensors cross-wired the lights so that my stoplight changes to RED when I drive up.
“Hey, here comes Wayne! Let’s make him wait!”
So I stop.
I have stopped just to stop.
Dead silent. No cross-traffic. No one around.
It’s just me and this long red light—and seven cameras pointing my direction, daring me to cross the line.
Reasons for the Red Light Green Light
But there has to be a reason, I reason. So, I think:
- Maybe I’m stopped at this light because on the other side of town somewhere a light is green and someone else is cruising through.
- Maybe my light is red so that their light can be green.
- I have to believe that there is a reason for the red light. (A good reason.)
As I sit there morning after morning, I have lots of time to think.
I realize how my morning routine at the stoplights feels like my morning quiet times with God.
God’s Red Light Green Light
Most of the time, all I see are the systems in place to catch me running the light, but I recognize very few signals that God is helping me move forward.
It’s like that game we played as kids—Red Light Green Light. As soon as we start to inch forward, God spins around and shouts, “Red Light!”
- But because I trust God, I have to believe that waiting at the light with no cross traffic serves a purpose.
- I can see no reason not to move forward—except for this light. So I wait.
- Waiting on God usually means hanging on until He changes our circumstances—be they relational, financial, physical, or even spiritual.
But God seldom seems in a hurry.
What. So. Ever.
Instead, He often allows the circumstances to stay the same—or even to worsen—while He waits on us to change.
Playing God’s Waiting Game
So . . . both God and we are in a waiting game, idling in neutral until someone moves first.
- We want God to change situations. God wants us to change in them.
- We want relief. God wants repentance.
- We want happiness. God wants holiness.
- We want pleasure. God wants piety.
God always wins in this game.
In the end, if we really knew the big picture, we too would want what God wants for us—and in the exact way He wants it to occur. Our pain often blinds us to that reality.
We only see the red light. God sees the purpose—His good and loving reason—for the delay. (Tweet that.)
And although we cannot understand why the light is there, we do know what the red light means.
It means to wait.
For now, that’s all we need to understand.
Like This Post? Get the Whole Book!
This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing.
• What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life he has given you?
• If you find yourself waiting on God—or if you don’t know what God wants you to do next—this book offers a wise and practical guide to finding hope and peace in life’s difficult pauses.
You will discover what to do when it seems God does nothing.
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