I WAS MAD. REAL MAD. THE KIND OF MAD THAT makes your jaw ache. But I had no one to be mad at except myself.
I’d seen that silly light burning on the car panel for days. And for days I’d ignored it. Too busy. “I’ll take the car to the mechanic tomorrow.” But tomorrow never became today. The light continued to burn, vainly waving red flags before my blind eyes. Something was wrong, but I had too many things to do.
“Next time I’ll pay attention,” I mumbled to myself. The flashlight I was waving must have looked like a dancing firefly to the oncoming traffic. The situation was not pretty: a cold winter night, stranded on a lonely highway in rural Brazil with my daughter and pregnant wife.
My breath became smoke as I stood on the shoulder flagging cars. I promised myself I would never ignore a warning again.
Warnings. Red lights in life that signal us of impending danger. They exist in all parts of life. Sirens scream as a marriage starts to sour; alarms blare when a faith weakens; flares go up to alert us of morals being compromised.
They manifest themselves in a variety of ways: guilt, depression, rationalizations. A friend might confront. A Scripture might sting. A burden might prove too heavy. Regardless of how they may arrive, warnings come with the same purpose: To alert. To wake up.
Unfortunately, they are not always heeded. All of us have learned to cover our ears and shield our eyes at the right moment. It’s amazing how adept we can be at keeping them out. Warnings can be as blunt as a sledgehammer and we still turn our heads and whistle them away. We have just enough of the rascal in us to believe we are the proverbial exception to the rule.
It’s as if there were a miniature receptionist in our brain instructed to intercept all warnings and file them in appropriate files. Can you imagine the scene?
“Hello. Screening department. May I help you?”
“Yes. This is the safety spectrum. I’m calling to advise Mr. Lucado that he is driving too fast.”
“I’m sorry. Mr. Lucado left instructions that that particular warning was for the ‘other guy’ who isn’t as experienced on highways.”
“Hello, Headquarters? This is the health department. Please advise Mr. Lucado that he is in desperate need of rest.”
“I certainly will … tomorrow.”
“This is Mr. Lucado’s conscience calling.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Lucado left word that he is having his horizon expanded and doesn’t plan to return your call.”
“This is the Conviction Section. I need to arrange for Mr. Lucado to read the Book of James within the next twenty-four hours. There are a couple of things he needs to remember.”
“Let me check his schedule … hmm. The next time Mr. Lucado is free to read the Bible is next month. However, he does have several golf games scheduled. Is there any way you can talk to him on the golf course?”
“This is Mr. Lucado’s faith calling to remind him—hello? Hello? That’s strange, I’ve been disconnected.”
Warnings flash about us unheeded while we doze in the canoe floating down the Niagara River.
We’re often surprised at life’s mishaps, but when pressed against the wall of honesty we have to admit that if we had just fired that silly receptionist and done something about those calls, we could have avoided many problems. We usually knew that trouble was just around the bend. Christians who have fallen away felt the fire waning long before it went out. Unwanted pregnancies or explosions of anger may appear to be the fruit of a moment’s waywardness, but in reality, they’re usually the result of a history of ignoring warnings about an impending fire.
Are you close to the falls? Are your senses numb? Are your eyes trained to turn and roll when they should pause and observe?
Then maybe you need to repair your warning detector. Tune it up with a few cautions from Scripture. Be careful about—
Sticking your nose in other people’s business:
Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.
For a prostitute will bring a man to poverty, and an adulteress may cost him his very life. Can a man hold fire against his chest and not be burned? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet? So it is with the man who commits adultery with another’s wife. He shall not go unpunished for this sin.
We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
Secret scampering that you think will go unnoticed:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Poor selection of a mate:
It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.
The poisoning effect of gossip:
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.
Careless choice of companions:
Bad company corrupts good character.
Denial of Christ:
Whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
The lack of parental discipline:
Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.
And three warnings about ignoring warnings:
Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
Reproofs of instruction are the way of life.
Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
Divine warnings. All inspired by God and tested by time. They’re yours to do with as you wish. They are red lights on your dashboard. Heed them and safety is yours to enjoy. Ignore them and I’ll be looking for you on the side of the road.