Summary: A sermon about how God tries to get our attention and "warn" us about our sin.
I’m sure you’ve seen over the years some of the wildfires that Southern California can have trouble with. I mean, when the conditions are dry and windy, these fire storms can become very dangerous. They can get out of control quickly. When we lived in the Los Angeles area for a number of years, we experienced some of those fires. We would have ash that would fall in our backyard. The kids would say, “Is that snow?” “It’s not snow. That is not snow.” And it would blow in from where the fires were in the mountains. So it can become a real problem.
When we moved here, we had only been here a few months when they had one of the worst fire storms in Southern California that they had ever experienced. And the fires got into the woods right behind where our neighborhood was when we lived there, so we were following that news pretty closely.
There was an article in USA Today that says, “Hesitation is a Fatal Mistake.” That was the title of the article and it talked about people who were warned in advance. They were, in fact, watching the news coverage on their own TVs about how close the fires were getting, but they waited too long. In fact, that fire storm…that particular one…claimed over two dozen lives. They interviewed some people in that article. One of them was Sgt. Conrad Grayson. He was pretty frustrated with people that were being warned but weren’t listening. Here is what he said: “We’re begging people to leave. We’re begging people, and they don’t take us seriously. They want to pack up some clothes or they want to fight the fire in their backyard with a garden hose.” John Smalldridge told of frantically warning his neighbors only to have some of them disregard him or respond casually. He told of people he wanted to save but they wanted to get their televisions and their computers first. Here is what he said: “They looked like they were packing for a trip. The ones who listened to me and left the area lived; the ones who didn’t died.”
You would think that this was a warning that would get your attention, right? “There is a fire coming and you need to act now!” But there is something within us that says, “I’ve got a few more minutes.” There is something within us that says, “I’ve got time to go in and get my TV,” or, “I can handle it myself. I’ve got one of those high-quality hoses in my backyard. I think I can deal with this.” There is something within us that, even though we hear the warning, we think it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be all right. “I’m sure it’s not going to do to me what it has done to these other people.” So we can be slow to respond.
So we watched the news coverage of people whose houses are burning down because they don’t listen to the warnings. You think, “What’s wrong with them? Why don’t they do something? What is it going to take to get their attention?” But we have to turn up the volume on the TV to silence the blaring fire alarms in our own homes. We can see the warning signs in other people’s lives. We can see that someone else needs to take action. But when it comes to our own lives we can be very stubborn; we can be very slow to respond.
So last week we talked about the ways that God tries to get our attention and how He will send these blinking lights on the dashboard of our lives to try and wake us up so that we can act now and be saved from all kinds of pain later. And I’m wondering if God is trying to get your attention and He is warning you about a sin that you’re keeping a secret, a habit you’re trying to hide. You think you’ve got it under control but it is a fire that will devastate you. And He is warning you about it right now. Maybe He is warning you about some things in your marriage now that seem okay. I mean, it’s not that great of a marriage but it’s acceptable. But here is the thing: He is warning you that these things need to be addressed because there are some winds coming and these winds are going to cause that fire to spread, so now is the time to pay attention to these warnings in your marriage. Maybe He is warning you that there are children in the home and they’re in danger, and if you don’t do something now you’re not just putting your future in danger; you’re putting their future in danger. And He is trying to get our attention. He is trying to call us to action. But there is something within us that says, “I’ve got a little bit more time,” and what I want us to do today is talk about the fact that how we respond right now can make a lot of difference down the road. It can make the difference between heartache and blessing in our lives.