Don’t wait for an emergency alert

On Saturday, around 8:07 A.M., Hawaii residents received an emergency alert on their phones: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

From the moment they got the warning, people had decisions to make. One man chose to evacuate his hotel room, grabbing only his wedding ring. Parents put their kids in bathtubs and said prayers. Students at a wrestling meet called their families. 

In under 15 minutes, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency tweeted that there was “NO missile threat” to the state. But not everybody got the word.

Fifteen minutes after that, U.S. Pacific Command reiterated there was no threat. Road signs and signs on beaches also let people know it was a false alarm. Still, not everybody heard the truth.

At 8:45 A.M. mobile devices finally received the message that the initial alert was a false alarm. 

For those 38 minutes, many thought they were going to die. While many shared what they did for those 38 minutes, no one reported if their lives changed after they received the ALL CLEAR.

Every day people get ballistic warnings—real ones, not a false alarms. You have cancer. Your brother is missing. There was an accident; it doesn’t look good. If it hasn’t happened yet, it will—because in this world you will have trouble. So how will you react?

  1. What will you do when you get the bad news? While you never know exactly what you’ll do, I pray that I follow the example of those who have handled tragedy with dignity and grace. They’ve said, “Why not me?” or “Okay, God, this wasn’t my plan, but I’m trusting that this will bring you glory” or “And so we . . . gave thanks for fleas.”
  2. What would you change if you got the all clear? Honestly, I know we can’t live every moment like it’s our last. (The dishwasher would never get cleaned out again.) But we can make more thoughtful decisions about life. Can we objectively look at our lives and realize some relationships just aren’t healthy—and it’s time to end them? What unhealthy behaviors are holding you back? Do you want to learn a new skill or pick up a new hobby? Will you care less about what people think of you and focus more on the identity Jesus has given you?

You know, maybe we shouldn’t wait for an emergency alert to make those changes.

Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who thinks everyone should read Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. The quote about fleas will make more sense then.