Paris Redlights

Traffic lights are sneaky critters.

There must be a million of them in Paris and most of them glow a brilliant green—until I get close to them, that is. Then they maliciously turn red just before I arrive. I can imagine an alert that goes through the whole traffic system of this city and its suburbs when I get in my car, “Porter vient de quitter la maison.” (Porter just left his house).

All the traffic lights on my projected route rub their hands in anticipation.

I see a light in the distance sporting a cheery green countenance. My foot pushes a bit harder on the accelerator. “Stay, don’t turn …” I command silently as the light continues to wear it’s positive face. “Stay … stay (almost there) …staaaay …. Ai yi yi. No!” It changes just before I arrive and all the lights in the area giggle happily.


The other night I decided to count the traffic lights coming back from the church and to note the number which were red. I figured it would be something like 99% of a million.

Well … there are 55 stop lights between church and where I live–39 of them were green. That’s not normal, though. They knew what I was doing and they conspired because they knew I was going to tell you the results. I mean, ten of the first eleven lights were green! Don’t you smell a rat somewhere?

I’ve got to admit, though, as frustrating as life can be with traffic lights it would be horrible without them.

Life Without Redlights

One morning when we lived in Luxembourg, I came to a major intersection near a place called the “Glacis” and the lights weren’t working. A convention of husbands in a maternity shop couldn’t have been more confused than the twisted gaggle of cars trying to get through.

Traffic stood nearly still. One or two hardy motorists tried to direct the honking mass through the intersection. I had to admit that a red light would have been welcome.

Life is like that isn’t it? Some wise-guy once commented, “Everything that’s fun is either fattening or sinful!” Does it ever seem to you that the Lord is like a traffic cop, shrilling whistle in his mouth, hand raised in an eternal “stop” gesture?

If God has told us not to do something, there is a reason. He wants the best for us and he knows how we are made. Good sense urges us to acknowledge that His laws are right. For instance, the Lord forbids adultery. Is that to torture someone when he “falls in love” with someone he’s not married to? Or is it to protect others close to him from having their hearts torn in two when he acts out his egotistical cravings? Maybe God wants to teach us to keep our word with others, and keep our word to Him, because adultery cowardly crushes some solemn covenants.

The Lord has prohibited stealing among his people. Any idea why? Lies, disrespect to parents, vulgar language, jealousy, pride, all forms of dishonesty, dealings in the occult, backstabbing, and gossip—the Lord tells us to stay away from all these.

To Protect Us
Do you think these red-lights are there to hurt us–or to protect us and those around us?

No one likes to stop, but the world wouldn’t work very well without rules. God created the universe and he set everything in motion. He knows how it’s supposed to function, so maybe we ought to obey Him. There are heavy “fines” for those who run God’s red-lights.

“Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.” (Gal. 6: 7, 8 The Message)

I’m still not happy, though, when I’m fiddling time away in front of a light. Do you realize that if I stop 20 times going to church and twenty times back, that’s forty stops? Figure just 30 seconds each time, that’s twenty minutes. Multiply that by three times a week that I drive in for church … hmmm, let’s see … an hour a week twiddling my thumbs in front of redlights! Times 50 weeks (two off for vacation) — that’s 50 hours a year. What? 50 hours !

Sputter, sputter, sputter…red lights!


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