What warnings get your attention, causing you to prepare and put action plans in place? Weather warnings top most peoples’ lists. Daily weather reports keep us informed of what’s happening in our neck of the woods; yet, we often ignore the pleas of meteorologists to prepare for what’s coming our way. Often, those alerts saturate television and computer screens, even our phones ringing in the middle of the night with news that a thunderstorm is coming. The warnings are given but often ignored.
Are you thinking of times your family was in harm’s way when warnings were not taken seriously or you were caught by surprise? Precise weather warnings and powerful preaching are blessings most of us take for granted. I was caught off guard when an unexpected rain storm flooded Cross Creek Mall in 1986 on a Friday night shopping trip with my three and seven year old sons. Trying to make it to our car twice proved unsuccessful with rain pounding and people screaming. Cameron and Clint were soaked to the bone and begging for two things: Daddy and going home! I bought them dry clothes and settled down on a bench to pray and plan. Protecting my children and getting home safely mattered most. Driving home was dangerous but home is where we longed to be. Rushing waters swept across Interstate 95 with a force I had never experienced. Cars stalled on the road, some were in the creek, as we slowly trekked through the high waters on our little, black Saab. Danger and darkness loomed with thunder booming and the three of us singing Old MacDonald as we edged closer home ever so slowly. Clint’s turn to name his animal was interrupted when Cameron screamed, “look mama, shopping carts are floating through that parking lot”! With one bridge closed due to high water, we headed out of town over the old bridge that spanned the rushing waters of the Cape Fear. Lots of singing, praying, and assuring the boys we would be okay kept us focused on home as we slowly traveled dangerous roads to get there. When we saw the lights of our house, joy rose up like the flood waters we left behind. The boys rushed inside yelling, “Daddy, daddy, we’re home”! Seeing them safe and secure in their daddy’s arms was a prayer answered. The memory of that night still sends chills down my spine and reminds me how God kept us safe in the storm.
Persistent warnings encourage people to prepare for extreme weather situations. Hurricanes Fran and Floyd hit our area with fury, taking lives and tearing up property. As warnings increased, people flooded the stores in search of generators. Tim almost bought a generator, but told our neighbor, Bobby, he thought we wouldn’t need one with this storm. With the hurricane raging and our house filling up with water, Tim sent Cameron to Bobby’s house to ask for his help and his generator. Soon, the beautiful buzz of Bobby’s generator was music to our ears. The sight of Tim, Bobby, and the boys under our garage with a raging storm and roaring laughter still warms my heart today. Tim humbly endured generator jokes and bought one after the storm. That storm story is still told around the dinner table when our families gather together. The moral of the story: be prepared and heed warnings!
God’s Word is filled with words of warning and pleas to prepare. In 1 Timothy 6 Paul gives a powerful charge to Timothy to flee from evil ways of the world and be ready at any given time to meet Jesus. Paul’s letter could be charged to America and postmarked today.
“…Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” vrs. 17-21
The third chapter of 2 Timothy tells of the terrible times of Godlessness in the last days. Paul wrote this letter from a cold dungeon in A.D. 67; his words ring true in A.D. 2013. Are we living in the last days?
“There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God, sharing a form of godliness but denying its power.”
Paul gave final warning, guidance to young Timothy, and final greetings to the church in this book of the Bible. He knew that his work was done and his life was nearly at an end. He was concerned for his friend Timothy and for the church.
Paul gives his final charge with powerful words that should cause all of God’s children to heed the warnings and be prepared.
“I give you this charge. Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. …I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4
I write to you my friends, who faithfully read this column each week, with devotion, love, and honor for Jesus. May we heed the warnings, get our hearts and homes in order, and prepare for our tomorrows today.