I’ve been spending a fair bit of time fighting traffic. It’s about the only thing that causes me serious stress in my work. Most days aren’t too bad, and most Fridays tend to be pretty good – but this Friday was awful. No special reasons, I don’t think – just volume and fender-benders, as usual.
Naturally, it got me thinking. How can I redeem this time? It’s pretty much inevitable that delays will occur. My normal reaction to delays is not good, because I’m the sort of person who would rather be a half-hour early than 5 minutes late for anything. Remembering that Jesus said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Luke 12.25, NIV), I figure there’s got to be a way to deal with traffic delays. What could I do? What can you do?
Of course, if we own a cell phone, the responsible thing to do is to call the person who will be delayed by our delay to let him or her know that we’ll be late. But once that’s done, how can the time be redeemed – used for some constructive, helpful purpose?
Pray. Talk to God about everything – not just your desire for the traffic to move more quickly. God yearns for fellowship with us, and a time when we’re sitting, waiting for cars to move, can be a useful time to build our relationship with God. I recommend praying with your eyes open for safety’s sake.
Read Scripture. Carrying on in the vein of “safety”, I recommend not pulling your pocket Bible out of the glove compartment and reading the Bible while sitting in traffic. I do, however, recommend getting the Bible on CD or some other format and listening through your car stereo or one ear bud from your MP3 player or iPod. In the coming months, watch for a program to come from the Canadian Bible Society reminding you that “You’ve Got The Time” – the time to listen to the entire New Testament in just 40 days, by listening to the CD for 28 minutes each day (the length of a typical commute on days other than today!).
Meditate. Today’s society tends to think of ‘meditation’ as an Eastern practice, where you have to sit cross-legged with your arms outstretched and your finger and thumb touching. Not so! To meditate means to contemplate; I think it’s fair to say that we don’t take much time to contemplate what God is doing in our lives. As you listen to the Scripture and pray, ask yourself (and God!) how you could be growing as a disciple. Every day, I need to ask myself, How can I go deeper with the Lord? It’s a question worth asking.
Understand the culture. If Christ-followers are going to have an effect on the world, we need to understand the culture in which we’ve been placed. One way we can do that while sitting in traffic is listening to the radio. It won’t give us a perfectly clear picture of the culture, but if we know what our neighbours are listening to, it helps us understand how they’re thinking.
All of this beats worrying, which will add neither a single hour to your life (nor a single cubit to your height, as some New Testament manuscripts put it). So, don’t worry when you’re in traffic – it’s not under your control! Use the time to grow in your relationship with God, which is.