I noticed something the other day on a sign — one of those road signs that workers put up when they’re working on the highway or a road. One of those big, orange signs. You’ve seen them, I’m sure. And, over the course of my life as a licensed driver, I must have seen a thousand of those signs. Sometimes, they say: ‘Caution.’ Or, perhaps there are no words on the sign; just a picture of a person holding a flag, so on-coming drivers will know to look for someone directing traffic. It’s not unusual to see one of those big, orange signs.
What caught my eye the other day on one of those signs was an ‘instruction’ of sorts. A mild warning, I suppose you could say. As I drove by it, I read the words, “Be prepared to stop.” Of course, I knew exactly what the sign was saying, and the reason the workers had placed it in a conspicuous place on the shoulder of the road. Some kind of work on the highway ahead made it necessary for the workers to warn us drivers, letting us know what to be “prepared” for. And the ‘warning’ took the form of four easy-to-understand words: “Be prepared to stop.”
Somehow, that wording — those words I’ve read many, many times on those orange signs — caused me to take pause in my mind. “Be prepared to stop.” I found it sort of interesting that I’d need to be reminded of that important reality. I mean, shouldn’t every driver of an automobile be prepared to stop all the time, whether we have a sign to remind us or not? What kind of driver wouldn’t be prepared to stop … all the time?
It occurred to me that the problem with driving is that it can be so ‘automatic’ and unconscious that we don’t give much thought to things we do almost instinctively, and without even thinking. I mean, do I give any thought to which side of the road I’m going to drive on? No, not unless I’m traveling in England, where they drive on the left side of the road. Do I pay much attention to my turn signal, when I turn it on to make a turn? No. I use my turn signal without even thinking about it, most of the time.
So much of my driving is automatic.
So much of my living can be automatic, too. I know that as I buzz along in life, enjoying the scenery of my everydayness, there are signs all around me that indicate God is showing me his favor; they’re not big, orange signs with words written on them, or pictures of people holding flags. But if I’m alert, if I haven’t totally switched my life onto ‘auto pilot’ I can see a lot to be grateful for.
Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” The more hurried my life becomes, the greater the possibility for poverty in my inner man. It may seem like I’m driving my life on the “right side” of the road. But, I never want to be so ‘automatic’ in the way I’m living life that I’m not prepared for the unexpected ‘stop.’ I ALWAYS want to be ‘prepared to stop.’ How about you?