Several months ago my wife and I were relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. My wife turned to me and asked if I smelled something burning. I did and we both began to investigate our house looking for the source. My wife suddenly gave a gasp and told me to look at our neighbor’s home. I was stunned to see smoke pouring from the roof of the house. She ran to the house to see if our neighbor was safe while I called 911. Later she told me of the sight that greeted her. It is an image I can not forget. My neighbor sat on his couch petting his cat while smoke alarms were screaming a warning all around him. He was completely oblivious to the danger around him and only responded when my wife screamed his name in warning. His house was burning to the ground and he was going with it without ever realizing what was happening around him.
Over the course of my ministry I find it heartbreaking to see how many people have come to me for help only to find the smoldering ashes of what once was something viable. Instead of being able to help, all that was left was to perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death. I can not tell you how many times I’ve asked “Why didn’t you come to me sooner?” You’d think our survival instinct would kick in when we smell smoke and rush to put out the fire, but I’m afraid that just as my neighbor sat in his house with fire alarms ringing all around him, many of us sit in burning buildings known as our lives and we are oblivious to the impending disaster all around us.
The Bible says that if any one lacks wisdom let him ask for it and it will be given. I have come to believe that one of wisdom’s great gifts is a clear-eye view of our lives. Wouldn’t it be great to see that you’re out of control spending is going to bring you to financial ruin before it does? Or that the casual distance that has grown in our marriage will one day leave you alone? Or how about that your single minded pursuit of career will leave your daughter looking for love in places that will destroy her and you.
The scripture calls Satan a thief. His intent is to take and destroy every good thing in our lives. When we recognize his plan, the Bible also says he must return seven times the amount stolen. This must stir a holy anger if he’s to be stopped. If we never take the time to wake up, look around and realize the house is on fire, we can spend our lives burning our lives to the ground until all that is left is ashes.
The Bible speaks of an abundant life for those who follow Him. It also says that He came to destroy the works of the evil one. Is it possible that the key to unlocking these promises in our lives is to recognize the smell of smoke as a warning sign for change?
That Sunday afternoon could have ended so differently. Although his house was severely damaged, he and his wife, as well as their cat, made it out of the house. In life, unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky, yet I can’t help but believe that a God, who loves us so much, is sounding the warning alarm if we will open our ears and put out the fire before it gets out of control.