What Yield Does And Doesn't Mean

There are several yield signs on the routes I take in the course of a day. These are the junctions of roads and on-ramps where two lanes of traffic merge, becoming one.

Unfortunately, many people haven't quite grasped the concept of how a yield sign works. Some believe it means "keep going the speed you're going and wait for everyone to move out of your way, letting you into the flow of traffic." Others think it means "slam on your brakes, come to a complete stop, holding up the traffic behind you, while you wait for a large enough hole to squeeze your car into."

Neither of these is correct, as they are the opposite extremes.

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation traffic and safety manual:

"Vehicles controlled by a Yield sign need to slow down or stop when necessary to avoid interfering with conflicting traffic ... They may be used to control a merging movement on an entering roadway or entrance ramp where acceleration geometry and /or sight distance is less than desirable for merging traffic operation."

If the cars coming into the flow of traffic don't yield the right-of-way to the vehicles already on the road, it's asking for trouble. And if the moving traffic isn't aware of the ramp traffic, they can also cause an accident or hinder them in driving safely.

In the book of Romans, Paul talks about yielding, but with a slightly different meaning than the DOT gives to its triangular signs.

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. Romans 6:16-19

Paul uses the word "yielded" here to speak not of giving someone the right-of-way on the road, but presenting yourself and placing yourself at God's disposal. It's not just a way to avoid interfering with those around us, but turning your entire being over and dedicating your life to the Lord.

If I were to race up the on-ramp and plow into traffic, not only would I disrupt the flow already happening, I would probably run into someone or, worse yet, make them run into someone else trying to avoid hitting me.

And if I were to come to a sudden stop to wait for an opening, the vehicles behind me would have no opportunity to slow down and avoid rear-ending me.

In any situation where I don't yield the right-of-way, I risk injury to myself and others.

If I were to race through life and plow into other people's lives without yielding myself to the will of God, I would be dangerous and deadly. Yielding means going at the pace the Lord Himself sets for me and being careful not to discourage other people. Being on the road of life together means being a yielded servant to the righteousness of God. 

And if I were to come to a complete stop because I don't want to go where the Lord leads me, I'll still disrupt those people trying to follow their own road. I can't give up and refuse to let Him have control. I have to be willing to yield myself completely and conform to Him and the rest of the traffic following Him.

Just as safe, careful, smart driving will help you merge competently into the flow of traffic, yielding yourself to the will of God and His righteousness will keep you safely and happily on the path He has laid out for you. Just look for the signs.


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