Do you remember playing the game “Red Light Green Light” when you were a kid? (Or maybe more recently for some of you Peter Pan never grow up types.) It was one of my favorite games growing up, and it is very simple. One person is in charge, and they shout out “red light” “green light” and “yellow light.” The goal is to get from one side of the room to the other, but you can only move at the speed designated by the person in charge.
If you can picture the game, it’s basically a bunch of kids trying to quickly sprint and then come to an abrupt and complete stop. It’s fun to play, but sometimes even more fun to watch because their is often a fair share of kids tripping and falling all over themselves. I recently played this game at a roller rink, which was terrible because me and roller skates have never had a good relationship in the first place, so trying to make sudden movements with wheels strapped to my feet did not go well. It’s just kind of a mess, but I’ve spent too much time explaining “Red Light Green Light” so I am now going to move on.
The point that I’m trying to make is that I often feel like I’m playing this game with God. I’m often just sitting, waiting, and listening for him to say “green light!” If there is something in my life that I want, I pray for it over and over again waiting to hear him give me the go ahead. I’m a huge fan of Matthew 7:7, which says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” However, sometimes I take “knock, and it will be opened to you” to mean “knock, stand as close to the edge of the door as you can, peek through the window, push gently on the handle, see if you can get it unlocked, and it will be opened to you.”
Other times, I feel like my life is moving too slow as if I’m at a yellow light. This happens most when my time in the scripture is unproductive, and I feel like I’m just going through the motions, so that God will put a check mark next to my name. Yellow light times are marked by apathy and a lack of self-motivation, neither of which are productive. And then there are other times where it’s as if I’m sitting still at a red light. I’m completely stagnate in my faith. I’m not praying. I’m not reading. I’m not communicating with God in any way. I’m just sitting.
I don’t think that’s how it works. A life of faith is not one that sits in front of a traffic light waiting to be signaled. God is so much more than a three response machine, and he is capable of being so much more personal. Where a traffic signal simply shows us what we are permitted to do, God takes everything a step further.
God’s green lights say, “Go! Do what I have told you to do and do so with urgency. move quickly to where I have called you and come to me with your questions as you try to navigate this next road.”
God’s yellow lights say, “Slow down. Be cautious. I am trying to protect you and I want to watch over you as you start to move forward. I am here to guide you and watch over you, so take my hand, look both ways and follow me.”
God’s red lights say, “Stop. This road is not the right place for you. I will lead you along a brighter and better path. Instead of sitting and waiting for my green light maybe consider taking a right turn down this different road that is be marked by green lights. I want the best for you, and going straight here is not the best I have for you.”
Those are simplified, yes. But the point is that God will not speak to us simply by saying go, slow down, or stop. He is too personal for that. Also, where a traffic light is simply concerned with the intersection it oversees, God knows where each road ahead leads to, and he is concerned with which path we take. Continue to pray and to listen to God, but be ready for a response that is more involved than a simple command.