What is Life?

Traffic Light

by Pastor Leo Launio

In a popular movie played by Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump recalls what his mother always said, “Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

As popular as this quotation is, I believe that life is more like a traffic light for three important reasons.

First, the traffic light has three colors – green, yellow and red. The green color is a signal to move ahead, the yellow color is a signal to slow down, and the red color is a signal to stop.

In life, each person will experience all these color signals at their various stages. There will be a time when life is characterized by the green color signal. A time when life is what you expected it to be, when success flows like a river, and when the world is waiting at your beacon.

Unfortunately, the traffic light doesn’t stay green forever. You may have hit five green traffic lights in succession on your way to work, but it doesn’t mean it will be like this forever. There will be a time when life is characterized by the yellow color signal. A time when you finally realized that life is not as grand as you hoped or imagined. A time when defeats derail your ambitions, and a time when the world no longer feels in sync with yours.

Some people try to circumvent this stage in life by driving faster and hoping to get across the street before the yellow signal turns red. But eventually, as in life, the light will turn to red.

Yes, indeed, there will be a time when life is characterized by the red color signal. A time when everything is on hold because there are no other options available, a time when rest is more important than work because of sickness, and a time when spending with people is more important than pursuing your material goals and ambitions.

Second, a red signal light for you is a green signal light for others. When applied to life, it means that life is a cycle of ups and downs. It means that you can be the boss today and become the servant tomorrow.

Therefore, we need to celebrate other people’s successes and offer our support and help when they need it. Most of all, we need to stay humble despite all the successes that we have achieved.

A wise king once said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, and a time to tear and a time to mend.”

Third, a red signal light feels like an eternity when you are in a hurry, but don’t despair, it will eventually turn into green. All you need is to be patient.

Teresa of Avila fittingly said, “Let nothing perturb you, nothing frightens you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.”

Indeed, patience can turn a negative experience into an occasion for friendship. One day, a young man in a certain village was badly insulted by another young person. He went to the chief of the village filled with indignation, declaring that he was going at once to demand an apology.

“My dear boy,” the village chief said, “take a word of advice from an old man who loves peace. An insult is like mud; it will brush off much better when it is dry. Wait a little, till he and you are both cool, and the thing will be easily mended. If you go now it will only be to quarrel.”

The young man took his advice, and before the next day was gone the insulting person came to beg forgiveness. Later, they became good friends.

Life is like a traffic light. Sometimes it offers you the exciting experience of having the green light on your side. At other times, it forces you to slow down, and eventually, completely stops you on your track. The wisdom is to learn to accept and live according to the season we have been given.


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