Ten Minutes till Impact – What I Learned from the Hawaii Missile Scare

January 13, 8:07am. A day and time that will forever be imprinted in my memory as the morning when over one million people received this startling alert…

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No need for your morning coffee when you wake up to this!

My phone conveniently decided to stop working the night before; so, when my husband told me in his calm Japanese demeanor, “An emergency alert just came to my phone,” my usual Italian “level ten” freak out reaction was reduced to about a 6.5.

Within seconds, our peaceful isle of paradise spiraled into a panic. People racing through the streets to find shelter. Families hiding in bunkers and bathrooms. One of my sons, who was at his paddling regatta, said the scene at the beach was reminiscent of the apocalypse – hundreds of people running to their cars trying to escape the imminent threat.

Thankfully, it was an error. Apparently, someone pushed the wrong button.

While those 38 minutes were quite traumatic – and a message I hope to never see on my phone again EVER – in a strange way the whole experience was kind of a gift.

Let me explain…

Our community, for 38 minutes, collectively captured a glimpse of what’s truly important.

Faced with the realization that within ten minutes we may be entering into eternity brought laser focus to our lives like nothing else possibly could.

My hurry and hustle, necessities and needs suddenly didn’t matter. The projects, the cleaning, the laundry, the errands – my “urgent, don’t-get-in-my-way to-do list” was reduced to…

  1. My family
  2. My family
  3. My family

All I wanted was to get home to my kids. Nothing else mattered anymore.

I wasn’t alone on this.

In my conversations with others about their experience, all of them involved gathering together with the people you love for a few words of prayer, love and comfort.

No one’s focus was on their stuff. It was all about people. Helping people, serving people, calling people, being with people.

I can’t be sure, but hopefully, some of these calls and conversations were between family members who hadn’t spoken in years. After holding onto years of offense, perhaps, this experience created an opportunity to lay aside differences and offer reconciliation?

Scripture reminds us of the urgency of the times in which we live. In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul admonishes the Thessalonians,

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

Suddenlyunexpectedly… When you least expect it, Christ will come. You don’t know when, so be ready. In other words, don’t get so busy with your life that you schedule God out of it.

It seems the apostle Paul understood this pretty well and lived with a level of urgency and awareness that life is a gift to be used wisely, with great care and intention.

Paul continues on this thought to the Thessalonians by finishing with these words,

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Perhaps the urgency with which Paul lived is what continually inspired him to encourage the early Christians to live in unity with one another? To be a light to a dark world? To offer hope to the hurting? To turn their focus from their wants and desires outward to the world they were called to love.

You can almost hear him pleading in his letters, “Put aside your pettiness, prejudices, preferences and politics and be the Church to a world that is hurting and searching for hope.”

Because when nothing else matters, people still do.

Which caused me to consider, what if I learned to live with this urgency and focus every day?

To receive every day as a gift, being fully present, truly enjoying and valuing the people in my life? Not taking them for granted. Not allowing little things to drive a wedge into my relationships? Not allowing my busy schedule to take precedent over the joy of gathering with those I love?

  • Is there a phone call you need to make? Make it.
  • Is there forgiveness you need to extend to someone? Extend it.
  • Are there words you need to say? Say them.
  • Is there something you need to do? Do it.

Because when nothing else matters, people still do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What I Need the Most

One day when our children were much younger, we piled the surfboards in the car and headed to the North Shore for a family day at the beach. The kids were excited to try out the new boards they had recently received for Christmas.

Towards the end of our day, we arrived at one final beach stop. The waves were good – not too big – and the beach was family friendly, perfect for younger kids learning to surf.

This particular beach consisted of two breaks: an inner break that was small and gentle and an outer break that was a little more challenging to navigate. What we didn’t know at the time was that an unseen channel existed between the two breaks which was known to have a very strong current.

It was well after 4pm when Gregg and our three oldest children journeyed into the ocean. They were having a lot of fun – that is, until the conditions changed.

Suddenly and without warning, the skies became overcast and ominous, and as the sun began to set, the gentle waves on the inner break suddenly turned more powerful, and the current became potent.

In fact, the current was so strong that it sucked my family into the danger zone. From the shore, I watched as the waves were breaking harshly on four of my family members, with the energy of the current dragging them further and further from shore!

I decided to do what I do very well – panic and freak out.

However yelling to them from the shore, while it created a lot of attention and drama, wasn’t very productive. They were stuck and unable to break away from the powerful surf on their own strength, so I enlisted the help of the lifeguards.

While Gregg saw the threat and didn’t know how he could lead them all safely to shore, my kids were having a great time and completely oblivious of the danger they were in.

As the lifeguards paddled out to save them, my kids were incredulous that someone would need to rescue them! In their opinion, they were perfectly fine and had everything under control.

Even today, if you were to ask my kids, they would ALL tell you they still consider those lifeguards a nuisance.

They would tell you the lifeguards were ruining their fun.

They would tell you the lifeguards were an inconvenience, interrupting their day at the beach.

They would tell you they didn’t need to be rescued.

Because they didn’t see their need for a savior.

When you don’t think you need to be rescued, the idea of a savior is a big “yawn”… a “sigh”… or maybe even boooooring.

For many people, this is how they view God. They don’t see their need for him. Their experience with Christianity and following Jesus has been from the perspective that Jesus is trying to interfere with their life and ruin their fun.

But for those of us who have experienced the pull of life’s current,

For those of us who have been beaten by the swell of the waves,

For those of us who have been pulled under and tossed around on the ocean shore until we’re exhausted and sinking –

We understand the Christmas story in a compelling way, with fresh perspective and sobering humility.

God came to do for us what we are powerless to do for ourselves.

God sent Jesus, to rescue us.

I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2_10-11

I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.              Luke 2:10-11

God sent a Savior. Not a helper, not a life coach, not more rules or rigid expectations.

A Savior.

But until you come to grips with the fact that you need to be rescued, the idea of a Savior is an inconvenience, a “yawn”, someone who’s just trying to ruin your good time.

But for those who have truly embraced their brokenness and are conscious of what Jesus truly did for them, our response is much different.

It’s not, “I have to…” or “I need to…” 

When we think of Jesus we experience an unfiltered joy and unsolicited devotion. There is an appreciation and gratitude that extends beyond obligation because…

He saved me.

And that, my friend, is really good news for all people.

 

God’s Presence, the Best Present

Christmas season… The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. A time of thankfulness, a time of celebration, a time of gathering with those we love, and most importantly, a time of remembering what God has done for us.

It’s ironic how a season centered around a little baby on a peaceful night in a small town can easily become the busiest and most stressful season of the year.

If you go to the mall today, you’re probably not going to experience an overwhelming sense of peace. Same if you attempt travel anywhere during the holidays.

You can feel the stress in the air. You sense it on the roads, at the grocery store and in the shopping malls.

What I envision for the season – quiet nights at home sitting around the tree drinking hot chocolate with the family easily evolves into…

Stuff, fill, cram, shove, pack, hurry, rush, dash, run, stress, worry and strain to create the perfect Christmas for my family.

Instead of less is more, and “peace on those whom his favor rests” I find myself…

  • Overdoing
  • Overcommitting
  • Overscheduling
  • Overextending
  • Overeating
  • Overspending

…only to finish the holidays worn out, sick and exhausted.

Every year, I’m realizing more and more how

Hurry is the great enemy of my spiritual life and health of my soul.

When we hurry, rush, run, cram and do, even the things we love can become burdens and obligations. And when we live a loud, hurried life, the one thing that tends to get squeezed out is the thing our souls crave the most.

What God created us for – what our souls really crave – is space.

  • Space to reflect
  • Space to rest
  • Space to connect with God and other people

But when the volume and activity level is so loud it’s impossible to achieve the peace our soul craves.

As you go through the Christmas season and you begin to feel the stress and tension creep up on you, I encourage you to remember this one verse.

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David wrote,

…Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
Psalm 62:1

It’s hidden in the presence of God where peace flourishes. It’s hidden in that space where we thrive because it’s how God created us to live.

You may think, “Life back then was simpler, easier, quieter. They didn’t have all the of the expectations, traffic, stress we have today.”

David had a lot going on. His life was busy, stressful, fast-paced and loud.

  • He was a warrior and military leader in Israel who had to hide in caves, and run for his life from a crazy king for about 15 years.
  • In fact, its said that David wrote this Psalm while someone was attempting to dethrone him
  • He was king of Israel and undoubtedly the most influential and affluent person around with a role that carried more responsibility than we could imagine.

Not to mention, David also had,

  • 19 sons and one daughter
  • At least 8 wives!

Can you even imagine how loud, busy, hectic David’s life was?! Yet somehow, with all of the demands on his time, all of the people needing his attention, all of the people demanding decisions, all of the children needing affection, David made the time to escape from the chaos and find rest in the presence of God.

He was intentional about it.

David had discovered the value of quieting his soul and coming into God’s presence. He didn’t see it as a duty or obligation. He didn’t demand anything from God.

He learned the value and necessity of intentionally creating space for his soul to rest in the presence of God. This is so important for us to get right.

David knew the outflow of his life came from the inner state of his soul.

David knew his ability to experience peace depended on his ability to create a peaceful soul.

David knew that peace isn’t something we can find, purchase or work to achieve.

David knew that true Peace is found in the presence of a Person.

If your soul is loud and stressed and chaotic, it will bleed into your relationships and all of the areas of your life.

Instead of imparting peace, you’ll impart anxiety. Instead of imparting a calm presence, you’ll impart chaos. Instead of connecting with others, you’re relationships will be strained.

If King David could develop a calm soul in the middle of the craziness and chaos of ruling a kingdom, I think there’s hope for you and me.

But how? David doesn’t give us “three easy steps to having a quiet soul”. He doesn’t teach on “five keys to creating peace in your heart”.

When we’re stretched and stuffed and over-scheduled and our lives are loud, we only see the “to-do” list. We can’t see anything beyond the chaos of our life.

Throughout Scripture, throughout Jesus’ ministry, He gives us an invitation. It’s an invitation to declutter our souls and come to Him. In the midst of the packed schedules and holiday craziness, God offer us an invitation. He asks us to make a choice.

This Christmas, don’t miss the invitation to come.

Receive God’s invitation to be present with him and find rest for your soul.

Give yourself permission to pause long enough to find rest in God and experience the refreshing that only comes through time in His presence.

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:13-15