Red Flags

[This blog was written during the week of events following the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.]

I was driving north to my son’s golf tournament outside of Boston this past week… (I know what you’re thinking: really bad timing for that trip.)  Suddenly the highway traffic slowed to a stop with a proliferation of flashing lights ahead in the distance.  Bombs, shootings, car-jackings, terrorists… just the sight of emergency vehicles had my mind racing.

As we inched along, we were “relieved” to see only a minor fender-bender in the southbound lanes causing the delay.  (How bad is it that we often feel more relief than sympathy when the traffic finally clears after an accident?)  In any event, we quickly found ourselves back up to speed.

Those traveling south were not so lucky.  The brake lights stretched for miles on their side of the highway.  When we finally got beyond the tail-end of their traffic nightmare, we watched the cars zipping along the other direction at full speed – their drivers totally oblivious as to what lay ahead just around the next bend.  They were talking cheerfully with passengers and enjoying the warm spring air through open windows.  They had no idea their trip was about to come to a miserable, screeching halt.

We wished there was a way to warn them of what lay ahead– call out to them to turn around, hold up signs, or wave red flags.  I imagine if we did any of that, they’d just think we were crazy and pay little attention.  However, I wondered (hypothetically) if a whole bunch of us going in this direction all gave some kind of small warning, maybe they might begin to take us more seriously?  I guess we’ll never know because we didn’t take any action – not a single one of us in the northbound lanes made an attempt.  We just kept driving.

I think these same things in relationship to life as a Christian.  How many unbelievers do we pass every day who are going through life at full speed with no idea what lies ahead, eternally speaking?  We wish we could effectively warn them about their future, but we’re usually afraid of their reaction — or we assume they won’t pay any attention.  Often we excuse ourselves thinking, it’s not a good time now – we’ll wait for a better opportunity.  How wrong can we be?  The events in Boston this past week are a dire reminder that we never know what lies just around the next corner, and life can come to a screeching halt without any warning at all.

So what’s our response when life-changing events take place around us?  Do we keep driving along in life as if nothing happened?  Maybe it’s time we stop the car and share our faith with someone who needs to hear it now.

Ezekiel 3:17 — “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.”

– Ron Reid