Sunday, June 23, 2013

Get the Message?

The Law of the Lord is a lamp, and its teachings shine brightly. Correction
and self-control will lead you through life.

- Proverbs 6:23

The recent EF5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, that killed more than 20 people and damaged or destroyed 1,200 homes is a stark reminder that life is unpredictable. Literally out of the blue, thousands of people became homeless. However, warning signs often precede disasters. And our ability and willingness to recognize and heed them can mean the difference between life and death.

Let’s rewind back to December 2004 when an earthquake generating a powerful tsunami in the Indian and Pacific Oceans released the energy of more than 20,000 atomic bombs. The disaster left more than 150,000 people dead or missing in 11 different nations--and millions of others homeless.

The tsunami’s approach was not totally unannounced. Many survivors remember marveling at how far the ocean had receded to expose the seafloor. Fish and boats were left exposed and stranded on the sand. But these were also same warning signs that attracted others to their dooms when their curiosities got the best of them and led them to the shoreline. 

However, there were some people who did recognize the warning from the rapidly receding ocean. Those who understood its significance later recalled how they ran for high ground, rounded up family and friends, and tried to warn those who had gathered at the water's edge. The Associated Press reported that one man in India saved 1,500 of his fellow villagers after seeing the ocean’s dramatic behavior. And for reasons still debated by scientists, many animals somehow sensed the impending disaster and fled in time to safety. Remarkably few animal carcasses were found in the wake of the destruction.

Maybe you don't live in an area where literal tsunamis are a threat. But is God trying to warn you about a catastrophe on your personal horizon?

Maybe it’s about your marriage, your kids, your job…or even that risky investment you're considering. Whatever it is, it’s likely that His warnings aren’t a complete surprise. Like those doomed tourists who gathered at the shoreline, we tend to lack wisdom and self control. We do what we know is bad for us (spiritually and/or physically) and put off what’s unpleasant until the very last minute. Or, sometimes we delay until it’s too late. And by then, the damage—often permanent—is done.

Our excuses are remarkably consistent. We’re either too busy or we don’t think the issue is a big deal. We also like to play God by pretending that we already have a handle on the situation (often involving drugs, gambling or alcohol). But your family, friends—and most importantly, God—know otherwise.

How should we respond to God’s warning signs?

The best answer is the simplest one: Face up to them NOW and run from the natural tendency to ignore our problems or procrastinate. Meanwhile, we should also be on the lookout for red flags by constantly evaluating anything that signals trouble. It's the self-awareness and discipline today can save us—and others—from a lifetime of hurt and regret tomorrow.   

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