Round-Abouts and Obeying God

From the autostrada to my house, there is one stoplight and there are eleven round-abouts. Most people are familiar with the round-about way of negotiating intersections, but unless you face them each day, the negotiating can be tricky. Some are simply the “glance left and go” types of round-abouts. Others have three roads and six points of traffic entering, and looking front, left, beyond left and back to your right (to make sure a car behind you isn’t “cutting you off”) is a must.

There is a round-about in Torino that I hit occasionally with eight points of entrance and exit and three lanes around a central statue (most likely a version of Garibaldi.) Traffic is entering and exiting at each point in two or three lanes. It does not look safe to go there. From the air, it must look like Daytona Speedway, or worse, the Watermelon 500 (if you ain’t from Atlanta, that’s the big round-about around the city.)

To navigate this one, you don’t look. You point your car, go, and hope for the best. Its a lot like Luke Skywalker learning to fight the light saber training droid – you cover your eyes and feel your way through it. Really, the first time I negotiated it without getting a horn, finger, or fig (for another post), I think I said outloud: “I did it, I felt the force!”

But, for mosts round-abouts, just a glance ’round and a quick tap of the breaks before going is sufficient. When it goes right, its like a dance. Each partner taking the next step, no hesitation, just move with the rhythm. (And, assume you are next, unless someone else beats you to it.)

Oswald Chambers talks about obedience on March 25 in My Utmost (if you don’t have a devo alongside your Bible, this is the one, hands down, to get.) He says, “Sometimes there is nothing to obey, the only thing to do is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, to see that nothing interferes with that.” Our main obedience is to choose to stay connected. Stay plugged in. Don’t disconnect from His love and ways in order to connect to something less.

Some days, it may be a little chaotic with a lot of decisions and noise coming in and out of the intersection. You may be navigating a lot of traffic – options and choices relating to work, family, health, relationships, all relating to your calling before God, and all intersecting at once. You may, perhaps, need to pull over for a moment. But, you may need to pause at the round-about for a brief prayer, then move forward trusting the God will direct, give wisdom, and take you through it all.

Most days, its the simple process of staying connected and moving forward. Spend that all-important quality time seeking His face in worship and His heart for strength and wisdom. Then, head out for a day of life with Him. Each round-about just requires a quick tap of the breaks, a short prayer for his wisdom, and taking the next step in the dance. Two great theologs, Henri Nouwen and Garth Brooks, remind us that life is a dance we are invited to join. And who wants to sit out when the dance is on?

The Message, a lively Bible translation by Petersen, suggests that each day is a gift for us to enjoy in a spirited interaction with God and His Word. Its not a dirge-like drudgery based on “have-to’s,” but an intoxicating, sometimes risky, dance filled with “get-to’s.” The Apostle urges the Thessalonians, “We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance.”

So, today, stay connected and enter the round-abouts in your day boldly, confident that God is leading and will give you the timing, the wisdom, and the strength of heart to go through. But what if I miss a cue, or take a wrong step? Here’s something we’ve learned in Italy… there’s always another round-about to help us get back on track.

Enjoying the Dance – Rick



  1. susan said,

    31/03/2009 at 1:03 pm

    For those who do not speak Italian, the autostrada is the Interstate system here in Italy.

    I wouldn’t go around about any roads with anyone but you! Good job!

  2. Jim Thornber said,

    25/03/2009 at 11:17 am

    Have you been listening to the conversations my wife and I have been having? If so, SHAME ON YOU!

    I’ve been keeping up on Chambers, but read your post this morning before I read “My Utmost.” Yes, sometimes there’s nothing to obey. We are just supposed to maintain our relationship with Him. However, when you feel directionless, homeless (we’re renting, not living outside) and vocationless; when you wonder why you completed a Master’s degree so you could resign your position in a church and go to work in a lumber yard; when you’re 48 years old and starting to be concerned about the impending retirement years; when God doesn’t seem to be giving you specific directions regarding “What am I supposed to do next?”, then simply maintaining your relationship seems like a very un-proactive way to live. It all goes back to wanting to “do” something for the Lord, when in fact, He is more concerned with “who” we are than what we do.

    So, your post made me laugh and comforted me at the same time. Yeah, if I miss one chance, there is always another round-about on the way. However, I can only drive in circles for so long. Sooner or later I must make a move. Until then, I guess I’ll enjoy the view.



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