“Under Construction.” “Caution in Work Zone.” “Lane Ends. Merge ahead.” “Expect delays.”
We’ve all seen the signs. We’ve all endured the traffic jams, sighed at the stop-and-go paces or five-mile-an-hour speeds, and dreaded the expected delays.
After living in Texas for nineteen and a half years, I’ve experienced my share of construction zones. Highway 121, Highway 6, and of course, the long stretch of Interstate 35 all come to mind.
Construction zones can easily lead to feelings of frustration and impatience, especially when we want to quickly reach our awaited destination.
Life is like that too.
Many of us are in a hurry to get from point A to point B. In a hurry to graduate. In a hurry to get a job. In a hurry to get married, have kids, get a raise or promotion, retire, etc.
Chasing dreams. Moving forward. Always reaching for “the next best thing.”
And while we’re staring at the long road ahead of us, bemoaning our seemingly slow rate of speed to get there, we often miss the precious value of our “under construction” journey. After all, sometimes life’s greatest moments are experienced in the construction zone.
Have you seen the Disney Pixar movie, Cars? I have two boys, so I’ve seen it a hundred times. No exaggeration. Ok, maybe a little.
In the movie, race car Lightning McQueen has been ordered by the Radiator Springs’ town court to fix a stretch of the Route 66 road that he previously destroyed. He is hooked up to a large road machine (nicknamed ‘Ole Bessie) that carefully pours and smooths hot asphalt onto the road, and he’s instructed to pull her very slowly and carefully.
Arrogant and impatient McQueen, however, is in a hurry to get to his next race, so he pulls the asphalt machine very fast and carelessly. The end result? A sloppy, bumpy, ugly road.
(Image Credit: http://screenviewer.blogspot.com/2009/08/)
He tried doing it his own way, in his own time. And guess what— his way didn’t turn out so good.
The town judge, Doc Hudson, ordered McQueen to scrape the sloppy asphalt off the road and re-complete the task from scratch. And McQueen did. Only this time, he did it slowly and carefully.
The finished product was a beautiful, smooth road— one that he and the whole town was proud of and enjoyed. Even though the construction experience delayed his racing practice, he ended up making some new friends, and he learned valuable lessons about patience, humility, and perseverance.
Have you ever felt like McQueen? Not wanting to fix your broken roads or sinful ways? Looking for the easy way out? Chasing the next race instead of focusing on the one that you’re already in?
God places us in “construction zones” for a reason. It’s during these times that we learn to truly rely on Him and to humble ourselves. He wants us to slow down, merge into one lane (His lane), and tune in to what He is trying to teach us in the moment.
In home building, it’s very important for construction workers to not skip any steps of the blueprint, especially when it comes to laying the foundation and constructing the framing of the house. If they skip a step, the foundation and overall structure won’t be solid, and the whole house can come tumbling down. The Bible says that a foolish man builds his house on sand, but a wise man builds his house upon a rock. (Matthew 7:24-27)
In the same way, God wants us to slow down and to build a firm foundation in Him, closely following His Word, His blueprint for our lives. Instead of relying on our own strengths and plans, which eventually slip through our fingers like sand, He wants us to rely on His unbreakable strength and follow His perfect road map.
It’s not easy. Far from it. We don’t want to wait in the non-glamorous construction zone, lugging ‘Ole Bessie behind us. We want the end-result— the shiny, finished product— and we want it now. But to God, the construction zone IS glamorous, because His glory shines all-the-more when we come out of it, stronger, wiser, and more reliant on Him.
He loves the slow, purposeful, one-on-one time with us, away from the busyness and fast-paced traffic of life that often fills our days and agendas. It’s during these slow construction phases when He can truly mold and shape us.
Like McQueen, we must put in the hard work, and we must strive to devote ourselves to seeking God and His Word. If we skip the construction phase, the roads in our life will remain broken and sloppy. And we’ll keep moving on from one broken road to the next, chasing one race after another.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)
Some roads in our lives may be harder—and take longer—to fix than others, but we can rest in God’s promise that He will help us persevere, as long as we stay on His path. And then, one day, our race will be done.
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
So here’s to slowing down. And here’s to accepting and savoring God’s construction zones in our lives, as we ultimately press on towards our final destination of crossing that heavenly finish line.