It’s been a mighty warm winter so far, but that’s over now. Here in Washington, DC, snow hit the ground last night. It was just a dusting, maybe an inch, but the weather forecasters are telling us more is coming. There could be feet of snow by Saturday – enough to shut down the whole city.
This week’s trip to the grocery store could be a little rough. People go a little crazy when we know that severe weather is on the way. All those little things we never worry about too much under normal circumstances – batteries, toilet paper, and salt for the front steps – suddenly become an urgent need. Who knows? We might not be able to leave our homes for days. Better make sure we have everything we need.
It’s interesting what we pay attention to, what we prioritize. So much of our life is governed by the panics of crisis and the complacency of everyday life. Those things that are urgent get attended to, even if that means neglecting some of the most significant aspects of our lives. With no crisis to draw our attention, it’s easy to keep ignoring the people, places, and things that are most important.
Climate change is a great example. For most of us, global warming has been anything but a crisis. We put a lot more mental energy into finding a school, a job, a house, a spouse, than we have into considering such a long-term problem as climate change. Climate change is important, but the water bill is urgent.
One of the most profound messages contained in the Bible is that there is a crisis coming, one which we’ve never taken into account. There’s a storm on the horizon that is going to put everything into perspective. All of those little urgent problems, the ones we rushed off to the grocery store to take care of, aren’t really that vital after all. There’s a storm coming that will make this blizzard look irrelevant by comparison.
The writers of the Bible describe this storm, this crisis, as the “Day of the Lord.” This is the day that John the Baptist preached in the wilderness. It’s this day that Jesus announces in his ministry, calling us out of our preoccupation with groceries, work gossip, and family drama, and into a life of tumult and exploration. For those of us who have eyes to see, this Day of the Lord looms on the horizon, a fearsome storm front that promises to sweep away all of our current priorities. It provide a new definition of urgency.
This storm that’s coming will change everything. For those of us who can smell it in the air, and who are awake to its implications, we have only one sane course of action left to us: We must abandon whatever else we were doing and prepare ourselves. We must put aside all those terribly urgent things and set our sights on the one truly important thing, which we are called to together.
Do you see the storm clouds forming? Can you hear the thunder? Will you be ready?