Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Storm Warnings

When dangerous storms threaten Oklahoma, regular network programming is suspended and we're glued to the TV as weather is reported non-stop. Because of our sophisticated radar and computer systems, meteorologists can pinpoint not only where the greatest danger is but where it’s heading. But all the warnings in the world mean nothing, if I’m not paying attention. When the tornado siren goes off, I would be foolish to dismiss it as irrelevant, or shake my fist at the interruption. When an alarm sounds, I look to my news source to get the information I need to protect myself and my family.

I confess I am a typical American. I love my undisturbed life. I tend to be a happy camper as long as I have cheap gas, good coffee, interesting books, church on Sunday and my life left alone. When things are going well and according to (my) plan, I can become so focused on doing life that God must interrupt my routine in order to get my attention. I need shaking from time to time to remind me that I am part of God’s story, unfolding from Genesis to Revelation…something way bigger than America and my little life.

All too often, when life interruptions occur I am impatiently waiting for the spiritual “all clear” signal. Kind of like the old TV announcement, “…and now we return to your regularly scheduled program.” But when my regular program is interrupted by a special bulletin from God I have to do more than give a cursory listen, for God’s bulletins are never casual FYI’s. They are always given because they are needed; when they are needed; and directed to those who need them. 

It doesn’t take much to see that over the past fifteen years, the world has changed in frightening ways. We are seeing increases in natural disasters, terror attacks, societal upheaval, dangerous disease, war, and economic failure. And the alarmingly rapid increase of distain, disapproval and persecution of Christians. The latest is the civil unrest and violence in Ferguson, MO, which makes me wonder how soon America will choose security over freedom (but that's a topic for another time). 

One event taken alone is distressing, but taken as a whole, a trend of increasing trouble emerges. Are these random events, or a forecast, a la Matthew 24, that a bigger storm is coming? The reality is that my perspective is too limited to see accurately. I need someone with the big picture, so I must check in with God for a helpful interpretation of current events.

Jesus told his disciples that before He came back, the world would become a dangerous place, in which his people would shine brightly in the darkness. He told us, not to scare us, but to give us confidence and strength. He told us so we would know when it was time to prepare. Time to build deeper relationship with Him; to love and learn to lean more completely on Him. Time to listen to His voice and practice joyful obedience. Time to yearn and watch for His return.

Ever since God put the ones He loved in a Garden, He has been working toward a conclusion to history that brings us back together with Him. Far from being a scare tactic, His storm warnings are designed to make us aware of our need for Him, to call us closer to Him; to remind us that, for the friends of Jesus, there is no such thing as life as usual. Though we are in the world, we are built to live above—in joyful friendship with Jesus. 

Since we are not interchangeable units, there is no formula for preparing. When storm sirens sound, ask the One you love what it means and what you should do. Jesus is our safe harbor, a refuge of peace from the coming storm.. We can run to Him and rest secure even in the midst of a frightening world.

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