My neighborhood is really huge. We have about 1000 homes, and in the center of the community is a golf course.
Every Fourth of July, the management company treats us to a magnificent fireworks show. As in summer’s past, we joined a large group of friends this year, meeting up on the second fairway where we arranged folding chairs, spread blankets and waited for the sky to explode like a kaleidoscope.
Another show was brewing, one that meteorologists call “a light show.” Thunder rolled and rain clouds approached, prompting someone to say, “Well, here we are in metal chairs on a golf course. Could we make ourselves any more vulnerable during a storm?”
Everyone laughed because we didn’t take the incoming weather seriously. We’re in Georgia. Georgia is the land of drought, and we’ve been teased by Mother Nature one time too many. It’s not unusual for dark clouds to swirl in the distance, filling us with dreams of precipitation only to fritter away without nary a drop of rain.
“It’ll die out before it gets here,” someone said to a chorus of agreement.
We continued to make that statement as the thunder grew louder and the wind picked up speed. We continued to say it as lightening flashed across the slate-colored sky. We said it right up until the air was filled with a sizzling crack, and a white bolt of cloud to ground lightening struck about 50 feet from where we were gathered.
You’ve never seen people jump so high and so fast. Seeking shelter, we scurried like mice facing an army of tom cats. Truly, it felt as though the Lord Himself had spoken:
“Final warning: GET OFF THE GOLF COURSE!”
What followed was more than a summer storm. It was a storm of violent proportions, with winds that brought down trees and rains that even a duck would protest. Though we were thankful for what the rains would do for our parched lawns and wilting blue Hydrangeas, it was no fun getting caught out in this most unexpected southern monsoon.
Of course, we could have stayed dry—had we heeded the early warnings.
I got to thinking about how good God is to give us warnings. It’s something He’s been doing since Genesis 2: 16-17, when He warned Adam and Eve to stay away from that Tree of Knowledge. Needless to say, they ate from it anyway and that led to a catastrophe called The Fall of Man.
Thanks a lot, you two.
I love how God has built warning systems into practically everything. Nature, animals, the human body and instinct—all are capable of alerting us to potential problems. God has also sent warnings through His prophets and servants, through the apostles and through His Son.
Today, one of the best alert systems available is the Bible. The Holy scriptures provide us with ample warning on many things. These warnings aren’t intended to scare us to death; they’re intended to help us live wise and fruitful lives.
Clearly, people ignore a lot of the flashing lights of scripture. This is evidenced by people’s disobedience, as though they think God is kidding—or is at least up for a game of “Beat of Train.” If they can cross the tracks without getting mowed down, maybe they’ll get away with whatever it is they’re up to. Not so, according to Galatians 6: 7!
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (NIV)
Intentional disobedience isn’t the only thing that causes us to ignore warnings. Fear and denial can prevent us from seeing the doctor about persistent symptoms, or keep us from exploring behavioral changes in our spouse or children. Pride, embarrassment or shame might cause us to push aside warnings that we need to address issues, past or present.
Whatever warning signs are flashing in the slate colored sky, we need to heed them before lightening strikes our door step.
“In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.” (Psalm 31: 1-4 NIV)
The sturdiest shelter is only a prayer away.
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