Some years ago I took a trip to visit a friend in Newfoundland in Canada. It is an island about the size of England and Wales but with only 1% of the population. I loved it. Mile after mile of nothing but trees and scrubland with the occasional moose or caribou to add a bit of variety to the diet. There are even wolves and bears, but I didn’t see any.
There were a couple of things that made me smile in the vast tracts of wilderness. The first was a large building, absolutely miles from anywhere in a large clearing amongst the trees. It had a huge No Parking sign fixed to the wall. There can only have been a dozen or so vehicles in about 500 square miles of wilderness and yet there was a No Parking sign just to keep things in order.
The other thing was coming across a man at the side of the road, again miles from anywhere, who was holding a giant lollipop of a sign in dayglo amber with the word SLOW in huge white letters. As soon as he noticed our car approaching, he turned his back on us and twizzled the sign in his hands. Now it was a fierce red with the equally imposing lettering of the word STOP emblazoned across it.
It was only when my driver pulled up I realised that the sign was meant for us and was not an indication of this chaps work rate. This was in fact a traffic control point and just over the rise, out of view, was a set of roadworks.
I was enchanted. The things I could do with a sign like that stretched far beyond the measly realms of traffic control. My lovely wife has always claimed that I am a man who embodies the principles of slow and stop in my daily life. If I had a sign like that to hold up, it would cut out all the guess work for her and, who knows, might lead to a more harmonious existence.
Or perhaps not.
Of course, to a degree we are all slow/stop people at some point because using a bit of caution is a good thing. The danger comes when we are over cautious especially in matters of new life or new growth. Sometimes we hold back because a fresh idea or plan is just too new for us and we stifle it because it is too unfamiliar or because ‘that won’t work here’.
We mustn’t allow the slow/stop part of us to prevent new life and new growth, because life and faith are about change and dynamism. They are about exuberance and love and joy and peace and goodwill. They are about encouragement and nurture. So turn away from the slow/stop merchants – unless you’re at the roadworks - and embrace the future.