By Jill Riley
Accidental deployment of car alarms is frequent. It used to be that if you heard continual honking you could assume you were in the presence of some car malfunction or an obnoxious driver! Anymore, if I hear a car alarm I just assume that somebody has bumped a car, a bird has pooped on it or somebody punched the wrong button on their key fob. I never assume it means an emergency is afoot and I certainly don’t go investigating. Car alarms are the modern day “boy who cries wolf”. I have been thinking about spiritual alarms. What do we do when the noise, traffic, and pollution of our lives drown out the alarms that God uses to warn us of danger? What happens when our conscience and our spirit become like that annoying blinking light on the dashboard? You know. The one you ignore until one problem becomes many and you can no longer ignore it for fear your car might explode? I fear that as a Christ follower I may have become desensitized and instead of heeding the warnings in my spirit I allow the alerts to blend into the cacophony of craziness that is my life. Instead of freezing motion and assessing the situation when I feel that twinge of warning I run headlong into the crosshairs of danger. Subsequently I get run over by the consequences of my own sinful nature, personal neglect or disobedience to the Word. My heart longs for the discipline and wisdom to listen to the voice of God, that like a parent stopping a child at the edge of a busy street, calls for me to stop, look God in the eye and obey. During the past month I have struggled with the theological conversation over sexuality, specifically same-sex-relationships. The number of warnings going off in my heart would equal NYC horns in rush hour traffic! The struggle has not been with hearing the alarms but rather discerning which ones are of God and which ones are set off by my own discomfort. Is my theology wrong? Have I been reading scripture incorrectly? WARNING!!! Are my friends incorrect and going down a wrong path? Am I? HONK HONK!! Is the church going to have a fight over this? Disrupt the peace? Is there really peace now? BEEP! BEEP! Will all people be truly loved by the people who declare the love of God to be their life’s purpose? My response? I sit quietly at the edge of the conversational traffic. I watch. I listen. I pray. I read. I sit in EnGedi with the spirit of another who loved God. I long to sit there with my friends, community, peers, colleagues, and the church, soaking in refreshment, nourishment and the safety of the One who invites us to love; Not ignoring the sirens and flashing lights, but blanketing them in the comfort and reassurance of the Words of my God who loves ALL. So what are the alarms discharging in my heart? I believe deeply it is the Spirit of God calling me, us, to the Word, in practice and in theology. Like an infant drawn to its own face in a mirror, Christ calls me to look into the eyes of love and act accordingly. This does not answer all the questions but it does squelch the flashing lights of fear and blaring sounds of dissension. Is there danger ahead? Potentially. Should I listen to the Spirit? Yes. Will I insulate myself from all danger for fear of being hurt, injured or WRONG? No. I pray that together we will all be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit and the cries of those who are lost.