An odd event occurred last night as enjoyed a family meal together; out of nowhere, we heard the long building wail of the surrounding emergency warning sirens. Unlike the jarring, ever shifting emergency tones used by the police and fire department which immediately grab your attention and move you to some rapid response, the public warning doesn’t move us quite as quickly. How many people even notice the sound every Tuesday at 11:00 AM?
Why the slow reaction to the warning tones? Much of the passivity comes from two factors that creep into our lives and cultures. First, we become deaf to the sound, like a rattle in our cars that we have heard so often that we have tuned it out. Surrounded by constant noise and other distractions, the odd siren blends into the cacophony of life and doesn’t grab our immediate attention. The second reason that the siren has such little effect is that it tells us nothing without interpretation. Last night, as the siren reached its second crescendo, we followed the people on the surrounding streets out into the backyard. We looked at the thunderheads that had built through the day, scanning in all directions for anything unusual. No hail, no rain, no lightning – nothing but dark clouds and temperatures that had dipped into the pleasant 70s. We turned on the television to a local channel to see if there were any crawls and the talk radio stations continued the lead up to the baseball game. False alarm, who knows, maybe stars were going to fall from the sky.
So, why this observation? Our spiritual lives can become some cluttered by busyness or lack of attention that we can miss the warnings the Spirit springs within us. More importantly, when we do notice the sirens we need to be prepared to interpret the message rather than looking blankly about. Our time in the Bible and in prayer, and the wisdom that we attain by ingesting the teaching of others all contributes to the growth in our interpretive abilities. Our goal is to get the point where the leading edge of the wail causes us to move into action immediately, searching our thoughts and actions to determine exactly why the warning has come at this exact moment. Instead of running blindly outside only find mammoth hailstones falling from the sky, we can make life corrections without suffering the pain that comes from being soul-blind.