My drive into work includes about five miles of a state four-lane road that has several red lights. Most of the lights are understandably necessary and useful as they control major intersections. However, there is one light that just doesn’t belong. The only street coming out of it is a small subdivision from which I have never seen a car exit. It is as if someone put that light there just to aggravate drivers. I have at times found myself caught at this little light that shouldn’t be. It lasts an inordinate amount of time and even has a turn arrow that is completely unnecessary. Some days my timing is such that I make it through all the major lights without hitting a single red one and then come upon this pest and am forced to give up my momentum.
I just wrote eight sentences about a red light. That should alleviate any surprise when I tell you that I talk out loud to that pesky light and all who installed it on a regular basis from the confines of my driver’s seat. I am guessing I am not alone in this experience. As I consider this nemesis of mine, I come to the reality that in life many little irritants have the same power to steal our joy.
Seriously, who gets that upset over a silly red light? Probably those of us who get upset over someone pulling out in front of us in traffic, or the sales person who was less than professional, or the drive-thru attendant who forgot to give us a straw. It is amazing how little things can set us off and rob us, even temporarily, of the joy that we should have as Christians.
The prophet Habakkuk says that even when everything is going wrong “yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” He reminds us that as human beings we have an incredible ability to get side tracked quickly. Little moments of displeasure derail quite effectively.
I am setting a battle plan. The next time I come to my little red light, instead of ranting to unhearing ears, I am going to take those moments to pray and worship. The next time my drive-thru professional gets my order wrong, I am going to pray for them. The driver who pulls out in front of me later today will get my prayer for their protection. We possess the ability to refuse distraction. We are called to rejoice. I invite you to try it with me and let’s see if we can swat some of the pests in our lives that rob our joy.