Waiting for the Right Off Ramp

Off Ramp

I hate sitting in stalled rush-hour traffic on an interstate. Whether it’s construction or, even worse, an accident where someone is hurt, it can try anyone’s patience to creep along at 5 miles per hour when you had planned to go 65.

Well, at least 45 mph because the road is packed and it is “rush” hour.

When I end up trapped between exits, kicking myself for not anticipating and taking that last off ramp, that makes it even worse.

But do I ever ask myself if there might be a good reason for me to be trapped, forced to wait when I don’t want to?

Patience is a virtue I’m cultivating, just like I tried to teach my kids. Cultivating in a garden includes a number of activities. The synonyms listed from a search at Bing include till, plow, dig, hoe, fertilize, mulch, and weed.

These all have one thing in common: they’re a work in progress. The one thing “cultivate” doesn’t mean is harvest a fully ripened crop.

It takes time for a crop to ripen. If I pick it much too soon, it might not even be edible. If it’s a little too soon, I can eat it, but it won’t have the perfect texture or the full flavor that rolls around on my tongue and brings a smile of delight to everyone I serve it to.

My “patience” isn’t fully ripened. When I really want something, I’d prefer to have it now. If there’s something I can do to speed it up, my nature is to try to find that faster path to the goal. I’m inclined to get off three ramps early and drive the side streets to avoid the crawl. It might take longer than the interstate when it’s flowing, but it might be faster on a traffic-jam day.

So how do we decide whether to take the alternate route or stay the original course with patience?

Driving home during the rush, it probably doesn’t matter. My time of arrival may change a bit, but the final destination is the same.

But there are many things in life where the “faster” route can lead us to a different final location. It might involve choices that don’t honor God.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
(Both Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25, (NKJV))

I find it interesting that the identical proverb is found in two different chapters. It isn’t just an artifact of the translation, either. They’re identical in the original Hebrew, too.

So before I take that exit ramp that might get me somewhere faster, I’d better consider whether it will still get me to the destination God wants for me.

Have you ever been tempted to take the “faster” route only to find unforeseen hazards along the way?

4 thoughts on “Waiting for the Right Off Ramp

  1. Shelli Littleton

    I love this, Carol. Yes … it seems like when I try to find a faster way, to keep from getting stuck, I realize that everyone else had the same idea … and I end up in another slow down. And when I’m stuck … I always wonder how the Lord is protecting me … is He saving me from something?

    1. Carol Ashby Post author

      I think that’s often the case, Shelli. I’ve had to sit at a series of reds, tapping my finger on the steering wheel, losing a minute at each one, impatient for the light to switch so I can get going. Then I’ve seen the fresh accident, the one that could have been me if I’d disobeyed the light that was there to protect me, not just to slow me down.

      I think God often slows us down so we don’t end up in a wreck. Sometimes his red lights are all that keep us from hurting ourselves.

  2. Wendy L Macdonald

    Dear Carol, thank you for the wise reminder that the faith way is always better and safer than the fast way. I’ve only had one car accident, and the memoir piece I wrote regarding it is being published in an anthology later this year. It’s an example of why not to take the fast way. I won’t give spoilers–but I learned a lesson–the hard way. 🙂
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    1. Carol Ashby Post author

      I’m glad you’re still with us, Wendy. When red lights are ignored to save a few seconds―that can cause so much suffering, for innocent bystanders as well as the one in too much hurry.

      I was almost killed last November when someone ran a red and tee-boned my passenger door. By the grace of God and the heavy construction of a 1-ton pickup, I only got a cracked rib, 3 cracks in my pelvis, a few minutes of being unconscious, and a cracked screen on my Kindle Fire. The bones healed quickly with minimal discomfort, and about all I could do for a couple of weeks was write on my novel. (No complaints about that!)

      That slowing down did give me a chance to focus on how much God blesses and protects me. I guess God still had some things for me to accomplish on Earth.

      The Fire…had to replace it, but the timing was good. I bought the new one on Cyber Monday!


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