Navigating Life’s Traffic Lights: A Call to Go Beyond

Rev. Bradley Swire   -  

How many of us feel like life is a series of green, yellow, and, inevitably, red traffic lights? One minute you’re cruising along, the next, you’re forced to stop—caught off guard by the abrupt change, especially when you’re in a hurry and there’s seemingly no reason for the pause. This can be frustrating, making us feel completely out of control, just reacting to the commands of these lights.

I can’t help but relate this to the feelings described by the disciples in Matthew 28:16-20. Here, they are given what is famously known as the Great Commission. They’re instructed to “go into the world,” a command that surely felt as daunting to them as facing a red light at every turn might feel to us.

Initially, this directive could seem like a stop sign—a pause that disrupts their current journey, filled with uncertainty and fear. They had questions swirling in their minds: Where are we going? What will we encounter? Can we do this without Jesus physically with us? These questions aren’t much different from the ones we face when contemplating a significant life change or facing a new challenge.

I think on the time when I was called to go to seminary. The first question wasn’t about the impact I might have or the spiritual growth I would experience; it was, “How much will it cost?” It’s a practical question but one that underscores our often material-focused mindsets. Moving day brought excitement and a profound sense of loneliness as I watched the car carrying my family drive away. However, it was precisely in the going—the act of moving forward despite the uncertainties—that we found purpose and meaning.

This sentiment mirrors the experience of the disciples. Out of their initial hesitation sparked by the Great Commission emerged the most significant religious movement in history: Christianity. They went, propelled not by complete understanding or absence of doubt, but by faith. They realized that in going, they were continuing the cycle of grace, forgiveness, and salvation—validating the imprint of God within themselves.

Today, we face our own set of traffic lights. Sometimes they’re green, and we move forward with ease. Other times, they turn red, and we’re forced to stop and think. We ask ourselves, where are we headed and what color is the traffic light of our life? Does it make us feel empowered or powerless?

Remember, red lights aren’t just stop signs; they can be reminders to refocus and recalibrate. They are not the end but rather crucial moments that prepare us for our journey ahead. The disciples’ hesitation turned into a defining moment of trust and obedience. They went, despite not fully understanding the path or the destination, and their faith was rewarded with a movement that transformed the world.

We, too, are called to go. Maybe not to faraway places, but to where we can make a difference. We’re sent to our workplaces, our communities, and our families. We’re commissioned to share the cycle of grace, forgiveness, and salvation. And remember, most people come to know Christ through someone they know. The greatest evangelists could very well be you and me—our everyday interactions are our mission field.

As we navigate the traffic lights of life, let’s embrace the reds as moments to gather strength, the yellows as warnings to prepare, and the greens as signals to go forth with courage. In this journey, we too might find that the directions are clearer and the destinations more wonderful than we ever imagined.

So, as we sit idling at a red light, let’s recalibrate our GPS, remembering that each stop is a part of a greater journey—a journey that calls us to go into the world, empowered by faith and driven by divine purpose.