Learning through Life

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Hampshire, United Kingdom
I love how our day-to-day life can teach us lessons to help us understand our past, challenge our today, and inspire our future. We can learn through experiences, situations, conversations, songs, books, nature ... the list is endless! Live with eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear and a heart ready to be touched.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The one with the little green man

I was a little surprised to be honest.  There I stood, waiting patiently for the little green man due to materialise sometime soon - when a mother and child walked straight as if they were oblivious to the imminent appearance!  I couldn't understand why they would rush on by and miss the opportunity. 

It was a lovely sunny morning and I had just enjoyed walking my son to school.  The walk isn't particularly long, but it is a great way to wake up and clear your head.  The route is a pretty one which takes us along some nice roads and wide tree-lined footpaths.  Unfortunately - it also requires us to cross one busy road.  Thankfully, the little green man is there to help us safely across.

Since my own children have been old enough to walk with me, my attitude and conduct at pedestrian crossings has changed.  Previously, I would use them as the last resort.  If there seemed to be a reasonable gap in the traffic, why bother waiting for the little green man?  Wasn't this a waste of time?

But is this the attitude I would want to convey to my 9 year old boy?  Would I want him to follow my example and try to cross the road using his own judgement?  No way!!  The road is extremely busy at times, and as it is at a crossroads, it has traffic coming from different directions.  There is absolutely no way I would knowingly allow him to cross without the use of the green man!

It is very important to me that my boys learn to cross roads safely.  What would I be teaching them if I chose to ignore the red man warning, even if it appeared safe to cross?  It is no good telling the boys one thing, and my example suggesting something else altogether.

So now, instead of using my own judgement at pedestrian crossings, I make sure I always follow the correct procedure.  This is what I want my boys to do, and I am sure all parents would want their children to do the same.

Which is why I was so surprised this morning when, during rush hour traffic, the mother and her young daughter rushed past me whilst I stood patiently waiting for the green man. 

Thankfully they made it across safely, although they did have to run.

As I continued walking home afterwards, I thought a lot about this incident.  Why did this mother ignore the pedestrian crossing?   It was there to ensure a safe crossing.  It was there for her benefit.  And yet, she chose to ignore it.  She ignored the help offered, and relied on her own judgement instead.  She thought she knew better.  She grew impatient and took a risk.

Shocking eh?  I would never do such a thing ...

But as I indulged in some sort of self-superiority, something occurred to me that brought me back to earth, and wiped the smugness off my face. Whilst I may not behave this way at pedestrian crossings, there have been many times in my life where I have grown impatient and rushed on, or relied on my own judgement and thought I knew better.  Isn't this really something we are all prone to at times?

As Christians we believe God has our life in his hands.  He knows the plans he has for us.  A good plan!  A plan not to hurt us -  a plan offering hope and a future.   (Jeremiah 29:11)  This is awesome news!  God knows where we are, knows where we should be going, and how we should get there.  He sees us standing at the pedestrian crossing - and provides us with help in crossing.

And yet, just as the mother and daughter did this morning, we often ignore the help he is offering and run on ahead anyway.

There may be circumstances in our lives that we are wanting to get on with, to cross the road and get to the other side.  But God has placed a red man in front of us, to let us know it is not the right time.  It may not be safe for us to cross just yet.  There may be many obstacles in our way that may harm us and the work we are doing. 

Maybe we are stood at the crossing and tempted not to bother waiting for the little green man.  The traffic doesn't seem too bad; we think we can get across safely.  We want to rely on our own understanding.  We think it is worth taking the risk.  However, perhaps our 'red man' isn't so much about the traffic, but about us.  God could be at work in our lives, preparing and equipping us for the journey ahead.  If we get impatient and run on ahead, we may cross the road without meeting any cars, but find our journey difficult or ineffective when we get there.

If you are stood at a crossing, facing a red man, be encouraged,  the lights will eventually change.  They may not change as soon as you would like, and perhaps your own plans will alter because of this, but when they do change - it will be because the time is right.  God will make a way for us to continue our journey safely and effectively.  He will remove the obstacles, and prepare us for the journey - and the little green man will appear!  We can then cross safely - with the full assurance that God is in control - and we are walking in the plan he has for us.

For another interesting read on traffic lights - why not check out this blog?


  1. Very very excellent. I can't help but wonder if this is about one very specific crossing in your life? Of course it applies to many different situations, and that's the beauty of anonymity for you here. Because for me I can only see one big crossing at the moment, and before I read this blog, I thought it was time to cross.
    It is 2:34 am and I can't sleep and have gotten up to read the Bible and search specific passages to do with a subject near to our hearts. I've taken notes, formulated some communication about the subject, made a little plan to bring before the Lord. You said God will make a way for us--yes I agree--but do we not also have to prepare for the journey in partnership with him? I have full assurance that God is in control. But how do I know when it is time to cross? The best answers I can come up with are: wisdom and keeping in step with the Spirit. But how those things are recognized and out-played in our lives, well...

  2. Anonymous, thanks for the comment and the thoughts within. Understanding and discerning the will of God can be confusing at times can't it? I was aware when I was writing this that I wasn't offering any answers as to 'how'. There have been many crossings in my life, that now they have been crossed I can answer the how in that particular circumstance - but at the time things seemed a lot more complicated!

    I absolutely agree that we need to prepare for the journey with God. Perhaps that is what may be happening whilst waiting? Maybe the red light is there until we do our part - the seeking, reading, contemplating, conversing, praying etc? Or could it be that actually that in itself is a crossing?

    Of course, some roads require several pedestrian crossings in order to navigate safely. This can be frustrating in itself - especially when we can see exactly where we want to get to. Think of major dual carriageways - or crossroads in busy areas. Maybe the journey you are thinking of is a series of smaller crossings?

    I also think that sometimes we know the time is not right to cross because of the reaction we get when we try. Spiritual 'lorries' may suddenly zoom past very quickly, and the force of air they create indicates a prematurity in crossing.

    I by no means have the answers, but I do know that God is awesome, and somehow things will work themselves out. There have been several times, even within the last month, that I have had roads to cross, and God has amazed me each time by not only changing the lights from red to green - but by accompanying the green light with beeps! (Not many pedestrian crossings seem to have this anymore?!)

    Anyone else have any thoughts? Would be great to hear them .....

  3. Some very interesting thoughts here and ones we all have to face. I have found that if we are seeking God with all our hearts and truly wanting His will and timing he will make the time to move very clear. To carry on the green man crossing analogy our part is to press the button i.e. prepare ,pray ,etc .then the pressing of the button is us saying ok Lord I'm ready to go . Then just as with the crossing we have no control over when the signal comes ,but when it comes it's very clear -so if we are not seeing a very clear signal then it's still time to wait ,we are being protected from moving off too soon and getting hurt in the process. It's not just a case of us crossing it's also the traffic needs to be affected too -they need to prepare to slow down and stop and be in the right place and sometimes that may take some time. God knows the perfect time when we are ready to cross and when the things that may come against us are in the right place to be confronted. If we see no clear signal -it's not time. If in doubt-don't ,just wait till all things come together and the 'green man' appears.

  4. Thank you Mamma Goose for your wise thoughts :) I love the furthering of the pedestrian crossing analogy. We press the button when we are ready to cross - and leave the timing to God. I agree that God does make it clear when the time is ready to cross - but I think (and I speak about myself here) that sometimes we miss the light. We get distracted, send a text, get lost in our thoughts, or get caught up looking at all the traffic instead of looking at the lights.

    Two points are worth considering here - firstly - if we do get distracted and miss the green light, then it wont be long before they change again. God will provide another chance. And secondly, I guess the most important aspect of this discussion is that we need to avoid all distractions and keep our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus!


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