When traveling from one place to another, there are a variety of signs instructing us where to go, where not to go, and how fast we should get there. The road of life has a lot of signs, too, with much the same purposes. Sometimes we ignore signs and hope we won’t get caught, but sometimes we actually use them to help us be healthy and productive. Quite often, the signs that help us the most are the ones that at first seem the most inconvenient or even downright disruptive.
A job change. A child getting in trouble in school. A failing grade. A disgruntled spouse. A grumpy coworker. Our kids give us signs. So do our spouses, coworkers, and even our pets. They let us know when they need our attention and when they need our help. Some signs are more obvious than others. Some are more critical and demand immediate attention, while others can wait. Sometimes, one sign in itself is not enough to cause us to alter our paths, but often many small signs added together bring us to significant change.
An illness. A sports injury. Even just a headache. Our bodies give us signs, too. They tell us when we’re tired and hungry. They give us signs to tell us when we’re too stressed and when we need physical activity. Ignore the signs, and we end up overtired, overweight, and overwhelmed.
These events sometimes seem simply like obstacles in the road we are traveling to our goals, but they are actually signs directing us to where we should place our energy and time. While God doesn’t cause bad events and circumstances to enter our lives, he does allow signs as a way to direct our steps (Proverbs 16:9). They are signs directing us down a certain path. The path of compassion. The path of forgiveness. The path of time. The path of communication.
We must deliberately take time to assess the signs in our lives. Consider the following questions as a starting point:
- Is your body signaling you to slow down, stop, or change directions?
- Are your kids giving you signs that are like rumble strips along the side of the road warning you to realign your relationship?
- Is your spouse or a friend giving you a yield sign indicating they need you to slow down and allow them to come along side of you to help you or to receive your help?
- Is God giving you a sign for a runaway ramp, a way out of a situation in which you feel trapped? (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Whatever the signs and whatever their urgency, take time to assess them, pray about them, and heed them.
There are often fines and other consequences for disobeying the signs when we are out traveling, and there are also fines of sorts (i.e., consequences) for not heeding the signs in our lives as well. Make personal assessment a regular and intentional habit, and you’ll soon discover that when you focus on the journey rather than getting to the goal as quickly as possible, the ride is a lot less bumpy and a whole lot more productive and joy filled.