Rows of neatly-drawn boxes numbered for each day of the month stare back at me as I sit at my desk. Carefully-made plans, tasks, and due-dates color-coded on the calendar. So much optimism and excitement went into its making. Yet, as I look more closely this morning, I notice how many boxes have neither the day nor the task marked off. Weeks of unfinished tasks remind me how much I’ve missed.
It’s not that these weren’t good projects, prayed-over commitments, and important deadlines. It’s not that I’ve just said ‘yes’ to everything that’s come my way and overfilled my plate. I’ve said ‘no’ to plenty. I’ve prayed through each ‘yes’. Still, sometimes life brings changes and God whispers, “Slow down, child. Other things are more important right now.”
Traffic Signals From God
I’ve been leading a course on prayer at church. We’re following a series from prayercourse.org and in it the leader, Pete Greig, explains that sometimes God’s answers to our prayers are like a traffic signal. Some prayers get an immediate “green light” – a “yes” to move forward on something, an obvious answer to the prayer, even a miracle. Other times, we get a “red light” – a “no” to something we’re praying about, whether due to God’s will for our lives or something in this broken, human world in which we live. The third answer, a “yellow light”, represents the “not yet”. Slow down and wait, keep praying, keep waiting for the answer, keep preparing.
I love how this analogy gives perspective to those times it seems God just isn’t answering our prayers (or at least not in the ways we want Him to). Perhaps it’s not so much that He’s not answering, but rather He’s giving us a yellow or red light.
When God Gives You A Yellow Light
My neglected calendar reflects a “yellow light” to my prayers and dreams. A pause to focus on more pressing priorities in my family. It’s the not the answer I wanted, but maybe the answer I needed. I don’t want to slow down. I want to press forward and keep pushing on my dreams. Sometimes, though, life hits and priorities change. When we listen to these “yellow light” answers from God, we shift and look for where we need to put our focus while we wait.
Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit … and you’re keeping all of these in the air.
You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for Balance in your life.
(Brian G. Dyson, President and CEO, Coca-Cola Enterprises during his speech at the Georgia Tech 172nd Commencement Address Sept. 6, 1991)
Our family, our health, our faith, and our relationships are the priorities. Those are the things we need to put first. Work, dreams (even God’s dreams), projects, volunteer commitments, etc. are the rubber balls. We can drop them and they’ll bounce back when it’s time. However, the others are glass balls. Dropping these has disastrous implications. These should be given the utmost care.
Moving Forward Under A Yellow Light
In car racing, sometimes the caution flag waves. This slows all the cars down to a safer speed while an accident is cleared or a storm passes. A “yellow light” in our prayers doesn’t mean we stop moving forward or give up our dream. It simply means we slow down and drive under the caution flag for a while.
Refocus on your priorities and give them your time and attention.
Rest and care for your physical health.
Dig deeper into God’s Word and listen more carefully for His guidance.
Spend time with family and friends and pour into your relationships.
Most of all, pray. Continue seeking God’s direction and guidance, paying attention to His answers and be ready when he lifts the caution flag and sends you on full speed ahead.
So, I’m shifting and resetting priorities. I’ll replace my neglected calendar with a new one at some point. One with more grace for the days other areas of my life need to take priority. I’m praying over this one and asking for God’s guidance. The caution flag is still flying and I’m moving forward carefully.
Is the caution flag flying in your life? Has God given you a “yellow light”? How will you settle into the wait and refocus?
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.”
(Psalm 143:8-10 NIV)