Speed Bumps and Grace

It’s amazing what happens when you make a decision. You become more focused and possibly even more energized. You get determined to meet that goal you’ve set.

You start off on the right path, and you maybe even make a little progress.

Then a speed bump (or challenge) pops up to deter you from your course. Then another and another and another. And you start to wonder if all there are in front of you is speed bumps. You start to question if your goal or dream is worth the effort because of the obstacles.

Some of the speed bumps we cruise over are:

  • You’ve decided to exercise each day. But wait, it’s raining Tuesday, really hard.
  • You’ve decided to give up candy. But wait, you walk into the grocery store and the candy bar at the checkout counter won’t stop calling your name.
  • You’ve decided to try to keep the peace at work and not argue back. But wait, your coworker decides to tell you how to do your job.
  • You’ve decided to be more praising of your husband. But wait, he left his dirty clothes on the bathroom floor. Just steps away from the hamper. Again.
  • You’ve decided to be better about being on time instead of being late. But wait, you just couldn’t resist hitting the snooze button ten times this morning.
  • You’ve decided to read at least one chapter of your Bible today. But wait, there is a movie on TV you’ve really wanted to see. And then the kids are arguing. And then dinner won’t make itself.
  • You’ve decided to have family prayer time in the morning before the kids get on the bus. But wait, your kids started fighting the minute they got out of bed, and they’ve done nothing but drag their feet. Now you’re pushing them out the front door, hoping for a minute of peace.

It’s human nature to want to go 65mph over each of these bumps and keep going. Let’s all be honest – no one likes conflict or chaos or difficulties. But the speed bumps are there, and eventually you can’t avoid them anymore. Why? A speed bump is designed to slow us down, to make us look in front of us for possible (unseen) danger that we wouldn’t normally be looking for.

I believe God uses speed bumps to get us to stop and look to Him. When we’re going 65mph, are we going so fast we don’t spend time with God or ask for His help? Are we looking around us to see the people around us who need His love? Or are we rushing through our days focused on ourselves?

I believe we need to look to God in every situation and pause to pray. Pause to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What can I do (How can I react) differently?
  • What can I learn from this?
  • Why am I (initially) reacting this way?

Once we take time to pause, I think we can reevaluate our choices. We can more easily navigate our speed bumps:

  • It’s raining Tuesday, but you want to go walking. What can you do? What other options do you have – walk inside, possibly to a DVD; go to the mall (or other indoor area) and walk (not shop); wait for a little bit and the weather may pass.
  • The candy bar at the grocery store is insisting you buy it. What can you do? Don’t let a momentary pleasure steal your progress. Turn your attention and “ears” to God. Pray “God, I am more than a conqueror over this desire of the moment. My need is very temporary and unnecessary. Please help me exercise self-control and walk away.”
  • Your coworker always knows better than you and tells you how to do your job. What can you do? Give yourself the time and space to make a godly decision. Don’t be quick to respond, or you’ll respond out of your emotions. Remember, a soft answer turns away wrath. Ask God to give you the wisdom to answer in the right spirit with the right words, if you are to answer at all.
  • You see your husband’s dirty laundry on the floor again. What can you do? Remember all the good things about him. Remember what he does to take care of you. Remember all the reasons you love him. Turn your focus from the bad to the good and appreciate all the little reasons you married him in the first place.
  • You hit your snooze button instead of getting up. What can you do? Exercise some of that perseverance God gave you (Galatians 5) and haul your butt out of bed. If you need to, move that clock to the other side of the room so you have to get up – and then don’t get back in bed. Make it interesting – start a tip jar and reward yourself up to $1 each morning you get out the door on time. When you get to $20 (or whatever amount talks to you), treat yourself.
  • You want to read your Bible, but you can’t turn off the TV. What can you do? Put it on your calendar and make it a priority. Set aside a specific amount of time, and keep the appointment. You can see that movie anytime (how many different technologies do we have today?), the fighting is just a distraction so you won’t spend time with God (and hey, why don’t the kids study with you?), and dinner can be 10 minutes late. Allow yourself the time to get centered in God.
  • You want to pray as a family, but your family is chaos personified. What can you do? Again, make it a priority. Stop, take a breath, and gather your brood. Give God the moment, your attention, and your family. Let your kids see God is important to you.

At this point I’m thinking it’s so easy to read an article or book that tells you how to make better decisions. But we still have to choose to make the decision. We still have to decide between right and wrong, emotions and reason/common sense, eternal value and momentary pleasure. We, as broken human beings in a chaotic world, have to choose to walk the godly path and make the wise choice. And it’s not always easy. Sometimes we let the moment get the better of us and the speed bump takes us out.

But thankfully that isn’t the end of our story or our journey. There is still road after the speed bump. That’s God’s grace for us. If we will keep going, He will go with us. If we will look to Him, He will guide us. If we will ask Him for direction, He will guide us. If we will walk outside the moment (give space to our emotions), He will give us wisdom. And if we make a mistake or falter, He will pick us up, forgive us, and remind us of His unending and unconditional love for us.

Grace is amazing. Don’t let the speed bumps of life make you forget this. Go in the grace of God to navigate them carefully, with the right focus and attitude. And always remember that God, who is Love, goes with you. There is no road too bumpy or long for Him, and He’ll never leave you or give up on you.

Ephesians 3:14-21 – 14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Written by Marie Fremin, 9/30/14

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