I was driving back into town recently when the bad weather prompted a warning. Coming down a major street my wife thought she heard something so she rolled down the window. It was a tornado siren. We probably shouldn't have been out and about at the time, but we were returning from a long trip and we were trying to get back to our home. Now, our first clue that things were bad was the warning we received on our televisions prior to leaving on the trip. We had checked the weather that morning and there were indications that the weather might be bad. The second clue was the ominous sky and the lightening that was streaking through the air. That rain was beginning to fall was probably another indication that there might be some weather in the area. Now we had the third reminder--the sound of the siren.
When I was a little boy, the church bell at my grandparent's church was rung thirty minutes before classes started, when classes officially started, and when the worship services started. There was a ministry of bell-ringing. That bell was a reminder to the community that something special was about to happen. (It also meant we better get into gear and get our clothes on!) The other day I was driving down the street of my home town and heard a bell chiming. It took me back to those days long ago and reminded me of times past.
While sitting in my office yesterday, I heard the wailing of a siren growing louder and then quieter as it passed our building. I wondered what the emergency was. Was it a house on fire? Could someone have been hurt in an accident? Was there an elderly person who needed assistance getting to the hospital? By law the vehicles in the road must yield to the screaming emergency vehicle. There was something that took precedence over a casual drive down the street.
Earlier this morning, our pre-school director informed us that they were going to have a fire drill this morning. The horn used for this warning is obnoxious and noticeable. I guess that means it serves its purpose. Children will file outside and be prepared in case of the unthinkable.
There was a commercial several months ago about a new car on the market. It would remind the owner that there were some things that needed to be attended to. In the commercial, the owner of the car would be ready to do something inappropriate when the car horn would sound. Wouldn't it be nice to have something like that in our lives? We have sirens to warn us of tornadoes, bells that chime to let us know church is ready to start, other sirens that warn us to get our of the way of emergency vehicles, and buzzers to tell us to get out of the building because there is a fire. But wouldn't it be nice to have some kind of warning system to let us know we are treading on dangerous ground?
We do have something. He's called the Holy Spirit. He's there to nudge, urge, prompt, encourage, and remind. He's there placing verses in our minds when temptation comes up. He warns us that there is an emergency and we should be alert. He lets us know that something special is about to happen. Our problem? We just don't listen. You rarely notice the ambulance until he's right up on you. Church bells, especially if they are regular, just become part of the white noise we experience everyday and we tend to ignore it. Fire drills, well, we blow them off as just a drill.
But God is very serious about listening to the Spirit's call. Paul tells the Galatians to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. How will we know the difference? Listen to Paul's words. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." (Galatians 5:24, 25) Keep in step. Hear the warnings. Heed the alarm. Listen to the reminders. One of the most significant problem in our lives today is we have too much noise in our lives....so much so that it drowns out the Spirit's calling.
I don't know why I've heard all of these "bells and whistles and warnings" lately. Maybe it's to remind me of the Spirit's lead in our lives. Listening, hearing, really hearing and willing to let Him lead us.