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Stormy Seas

Good morning. It is Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Jeanette Stark here.

Last week I wrote about the game “Red Light, Green Light”.

Red light, green light, yellow light. Have you ever wondered how we came up with those colors for our traffic lights?

I watched a documentary on how the colors for our traffic lights was decided. It is quite interesting. I found details online I thought I would share with you this morning.

“Believe it or not, the first traffic lights predate the widespread use of electricity. In the early 1800s, police directed horse-drawn carriages and other vehicular traffic in major cities. That system worked fairly well, but authorities wanted clearer signals to prevent dangerous misunderstandings and to allow for a smoother flow.

In 1865, engineer John Peake Knight, a railway manager in London, approached the Commissioner of the city’s Metropolitan Police with an idea. Knight noted that trains use a semaphore system; a signal with a raised or angled arm could tell conductors whether the path was clear. Drivers, he reasoned, could use the same type of system on public roads. The first light was installed in 1868.

The semaphore system worked well during the day, but it was largely useless at night. To this end, Knight came up with another novel suggestion: Use red and green lights, powered by gas. Individual police officers operated these first traffic signals by hand, blowing a whistle before changing between the lights and semaphores.

The system worked well enough at a single intersection, but in 1869, a gas leak caused an explosion, injuring the officer working the lights. The city of London discontinued the project. In the United States, the idea of signal lights caught on. Railroads began using lights to provide indications to engineers. Instead of using two lights, they used three: red, green, and white.

The original design used green to signal “caution,” while the white signaled “all clear.” While the lights worked, in some cases, the results were disastrous. Train conductors couldn’t always see the white lights, and the tinted glass that gave the lights their colors could break, causing a red light to appear white.

Eventually, officials decided to get rid of the white light, changing “green” to mean “go.” They also added in a yellow light, which indicated “caution.” The new signals worked extremely well. Still, the traffic lights were reserved for trains—not for traffic on public roads.

Change came quickly with the introduction of automobiles. In 1914, the city of Cleveland tried a system similar to the London semaphores, this time using electric lights instead of gas. The city placed the first light at the intersection of East 105th Street and Euclid Avenue, but once again, the lights were operated manually, and the signals relied on two colors (red and green). The light was very successful, and even though it wasn’t the first experiment with traffic lights, it is widely credited as having sparked the technology’s popularity. In 1920, Detroit police officer William Potts introduced the three-color traffic signal, taking inspiration from the red, yellow, and green lights of the train signal. In 1922, Houston added the first automatic timers to traffic lights, which saved cities a tremendous amount of money; by one estimate, the city of New York saved $12.5 million by re-assigning most of its traffic cops.

Traffic lights spread quickly, in part because they’re much more effective (and therefore much safer) than traffic signs. A San Francisco traffic engineer found that 70 percent of drivers at the time ignored stop signs, while an Ann Arbor traffic engineer reported that 98 percent of drivers obeyed red lights.

So, why does red mean “stop,” and why does green mean “go?” The first traffic lights needed to use colors that were clearly visible from a long distance and noticeably different from one another.

The red light was an easy choice. For centuries, humans have associated red with danger, so the color was an obvious choice for “stop.” Besides, red was already used as a traffic signal of sorts; through the 19th century, ships used red flags to declare that they were carrying explosive cargo.” (Source

When I think of danger and dangerous situations I think of a certain storm on a certain lake. Let’s look at Luke chapter 8.

“Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in danger. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!” Luke 8:22-25 NKJV

Mark also wrote about that storm.

“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:35-41 NKJV

I like Mark’s version a bit better because it shows Jesus’ head resting on a pillow. He was comfy and he was sleeping deeply. He was exhausted no doubt.

I often sing the song Peace Be Still:

“He says peace, peace be still Lifts his hands, peace be still Like a child the winds obey him When he says peace be still”

The same Jesus that can calm the storm on the sea, is the same Jesus today who can calm the storm in your life. And just like the disciples we may cry out to Him “Don’t you care?!” And just like that day on the lake He asks us “Why are you afraid? Where is your faith?”

Faith is vital in our lives.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

Have faith. Take it to God in faith and He will calm the storms in your life.

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