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There is a narrow bridge – a very narrow bridge – on the farm-to-market road I take to Siete Ranch these days. Earlier in the year, the county decided to widen the bridge, and I was thrilled about that. But the work has moved forward at a snail’s pace, and that is stating the matter generously. For months the bridge has been closed down to one very narrow lane in order to permit new construction on the other side. A pair of temporary, solar-powered red lights on each end of the bridge govern the traffic on what has become an alternating, one-way section of road.
Arriving at the bridge almost always means a temporary wait, and one cannot help but observe the fact that when this stage of the construction is complete, the whole process will begin again on the other side. I confess that I often sit at that red light thinking about how long it is taking, and venting a bit about how much time it is costing me. All I want to do is get to Siete Ranch and take care of the cows.
Today, sitting at that irritating red light, it occurred to me that sometimes God slows us down for a reason. Or maybe it is life that slows us down, but God has important work for us to do in that moment. Let’s face it: most of us are in a hurry, hell-bent to get somewhere as fast as possible. We want to get to the ranch, or get through college, or get that job…you name it. We know what we want, and we want it now. We don’t like being slowed down; we don’t like detours; we don’t like getting thrown off course. We don’t like job losses or divorces or illnesses, partly because they are painful, but also because they detain us. That’s what I was thinking as I sat there in the middle of a farm-to-market road that, in my opinion, should have been getting me quickly to my destination.
For some reason, my mind shifted to the Old Testament, and I found myself thinking about those old Hebrews on the journey to the Promised Land. Talk about being detained! What was supposed to be a quick romp to freedom proved to be a grueling 40-year marathon. And yet, here we are several thousand years later, and we still turn to the Exodus to remind ourselves of some of life’s greatest lessons. It was in the painful slowness of that journey that God’s people learned the great spiritual wisdom of how to remain faithful in tough times.
As the light turned green and the line of cars began inching forward, I said a word of thanks for the irritating little slow-down that, on this day, brought me a little closer to God.
Rev. Don Underwood