For the record, I like comic books.
I often pop into random libraries to search for a superhero-infested graphic novel or another helping of The Far Side. In one particular library, I found a goldmine of books on its third floor near the media area. After sitting down in the corner, I observed:
- An old man nearby looked like Uncle Jesse from the Dukes of Hazzard, complete with a red hat and white ear-to-ear beard. He wore a fat set of headphones and tilted his head back, all while gently snoring.
- A group of special-ed adults on a field trip were sorting through the various options in front of them.
- One librarian behind was typing away on a computer, while another librarian stacked old videos.
- The children’s area nearby was insanely busy with soccer moms totting around their kids.
Then… out of nowhere…
BUZZZZZ! BEEEEEEP! BUZZZZZ! BEEEEEEP!
An obnoxious alarm sounded. If I had to guess, it was a fire alarm.
No one moved.
- Uncle Jessie? Still sleeping.
- Field trip group? Still chatting
- The librarians? Still working.
- Soccer families? Still reading.
How many things in life are like that? We’re tempted to be unaffected by alarms in all forms.
Take this past Easter, for example. As the “alarm” of that sounds on the calendar, you’ll either not shift around because you’re used to hearing about it or respond with genuine, integrated urgency.
Because the Resurrection is not an event, but a Person.
Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
You may not agree with that, but it’s an alarm you must choose to respond to or passively ignore.
That day in the library, I paused for a nano-second and wondered if there would be any sign of personal instruction. What happened next was completely unexpected.
Two employees who could have spoke up just casually chatted in one of the backrooms.
“I hope someone shuts that off soon.”
“I know. It’s so annoying!”
“Hey, where did we put the Blue’s Clues videos?”
Can you relate to that? Not just because someone in authority over you doesn’t lead like they should, but because somewhere in your life you don’t seize the full opportunities you have to lead.
Maybe it’s because you know how the story ends. Within a few minutes, the alarm in that library turned off.
Everyone went back to, well… what they were already doing the whole time.
That is, until five minutes later when a frantic lady ran up the stairs and firmly shared, “Alright, third floor! Everyone has to leave right now! Let’s go! Let’s go! It’s a real fire alarm.”
Ah, yes. I remember that exact moment so well.
Everyone – and I mean everyone – rushed for the stairs all at once, almost at the expense of others. I’ve never seen so many people move so fast while trying to look calm.
A woman on crutches was getting lost in the shuffle. I helped her downstairs, got her to where she needed to go and then we parted ways.
As I got to my car and looked back at the mayhem, I wondered…
- Why didn’t anyone move when they heard the alarm?
- What finally did get everyone moving?
- What were the implications for my own life and household?
It feels like we’ve in some ways become a culture of alarms. Not just in the random automobile security systems that may be going off in your neighborhood even as you read this, but in how everyone is trying to get you to jump up for what they think is important.
Coaches try to get families to never miss a practice. Teachers try to make the content of their classes most important. Every TV show seems to end in a cliffhanger.
Ironic how we leap up for those, but stay seated for the real fires.
I imagine you can relate to this somewhere in whatever stage of life you’re in. Perhaps you’re a parent and have a hard time getting kids to pay attention to things you think are important. Maybe you’re a grandparent, aunt or uncle trying to speak wisdom into your extend family.
What can we learn from this?
I imagine you already know that, because right now in some area of your life an alarm is going off. Perhaps in your workplace. Perhaps in your home. Perhaps in your body. Perhaps in your soul.
Decide what your response is going to be, whether or not anyone else is moving.
Until then, see you next week… if not around town.
“Fully-Alive Living” offers weekly insights to serve you in taking another step forward in matters of the heart, soul, mind, body, and relationships. With over 20 years of experience and advanced education in working with people of all ages, Tony Myles and his family live in Medina where he serves as the Lead Pastor of Connection Church.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org