A few years ago I read a book called Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us). One chapter discusses why humans get into traffic jams while ants do not; in that chapter is a fascinating section on a computer system in Los Angeles, located beneath City Hall, that constantly regulates traffic in that city. This amazing computer “system knows how many cars are waiting at any major intersection” at any given moment (Traffic, by Tom Vanderbilt, p 109). “If,” for example, “at three-thirty p.m. there are suddenly as many cars as there normally would be in the peak period, the computers” start up the peak period timing of the traffic lights (ibid.).
But there is one night in Los Angeles where computer systems aren’t enough, and municipal engineers themselves personally control the lights downtown. That is “Oscar night, when eight hundred or so limousines, ferrying the stars, arrive in a procession … at the Kodak Theater,” dropping off each star (ibid., p. 108). They cannot be late. Therefore, the engineers manipulate the lights on the specific streets where the limos are driving in order to get them to their destination quickly. The author was watching the action one Oscar night. He writes on the difficulty of this process. “Harried requests are beginning to come in from field engineers, who are literally standing at intersections. “‘…[C]an you favor Wilcox at Hollywood [Boulevard]?’ asks a voice, crackling from [Kartik] Patel’s walkie-talkie [one of the lead engineers that night]…. At times Patel will have his cell phone in one hand, the walkie-talkie in another, and then the landline phone will ring. ‘The limos are starting to back up, almost at Santa Monica,’ someone cries through the static” (ibid., p. 109).
Now here comes the reason why I wanted to give you an excerpt from this book. “As Patel furiously taps on the keyboard, lengthening cycle times here, canceling a left-turn phase there, it becomes hard to resist the idea that being a traffic engineer is a little like playing God. One man pushing one button affects not just one group of people but literally the whole city, as the impact ripples through the system. …A long red light in Santa Monica triggers a backup [half-an-hour away]” (ibid., p. 109-110, emphasis mine).
And so one decision you make affects the rest of your life in a way you cannot know! Because you decided not to go to Starbucks but to Tim Hortons on March 19, 1992, let’s say, you are living in Ontario instead of Texas. That’s how events work!
And think of this – God is in control of it all. He is in control of every ripple of every one of your decisions, and He is in control when a ripple from your decision meets a ripple from someone else’s decision and interrupts and changes those ripples – and He will accomplish His purposes, no matter what decisions anyone makes.
Let me put it another way – the events we read about in the book of Revelation will happen! God is orchestrating every person and every decision and every government so that exactly what He has planned in Revelation will happen. No matter how many people hate Him and how many governments try to stamp out Christianity, Revelation will happen, and God will win. This is because God is sovereign over the affairs of men. What wisdom, and what unsurpassed power!
Let’s not let God’s control over every ripple of our lives fill us with fear or paralyze us from making decisions. God wants us to make all decisions according to His Word. Let us do this, and then leave the outcomes up to Him. Let us trust Him to work all things together for good for His part, as we seek to live out the principles of His Word for our part.