Friday, January 28, 2011

Waiting 'til the Last Minute

The Washington Metropolitan area was blanketed with snow on Wednesday. The snow was forecast earlier in the week. Anyone who watched the morning news knew that the snow was scheduled to begin in the late afternoon, starting first with freezing rain or hail. We were warned that the snow would come fast and furious. Unless we were living in a vacuum, we all knew what was coming. We were warned. And yet, somehow, this area was transformed on Wednesday into the worst congestion mess that Washington has experienced since 9/11. A typical, 20-minute commute became a four-hour nightmare. Some individuals spent upwards of eight hours on the George Washington Parkway. A friend of ours got stuck and ended up in a hotel room that night. Hundreds of cars were left abandoned after getting stuck or running out of gas. The area was stopped as every major artery leaving Washington was plugged.

We were all warned. The government announced it was closing two hours early. And yet, many of us did not budge from our office chairs until we saw snow - real flakes falling from the sky. The rain did not get our attention. The freezing rain that followed seemed easy to conquest. We sat, and when we finally decided to get up from our desks and go to our cars, we realized that everyone else had the same idea. There was no getting ahead. It was too late.

We were warned but we failed to heed the warnings. We were told exactly when the snow would start but we decided to wait and not believe it until we could see it.

I'm rather good at waiting until it is too late. I regularly choose to ignore the warnings. I know that my weight is above the recommended range for my height but all the other vital signs point to good health so I'm not really motivated to make any changes. I know that every health professional suggests that adults get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day but I regularly watch days pass without getting in more than a 10 minute walk from the Metro to the church.

We're all rather good at ignoring the warnings - at choosing to believe that we are invincible - that we can conquer anything - until we discover that it's too late.

We find many recommendations and admonitions for how to live in scripture. While some of the Ten Commandments are easy to follow - I've never been tempted to kill anyone - there are other Commandments that I regularly ignore like not coveting my neighbors house or keeping the Sabbath holy. Jesus told me to forgive the person who has hurt me not one time but 70 times seven times and yet I somehow find ways to hold grudges. The writer of Hebrews told me to always extend hospitality to strangers because I might be entertaining an angel unaware and still there are times when my busy schedule affords only a simple "hello" instead of genuine hospitality. I'm told at the end of Matthew that when Jesus comes again that he'll separate the sheep from the goats based upon who has tangibly cared for the least of these. I know I am a goat on more days than I am a sheep - but I don't necessarily change my ways.

What would it look like for me to take each warning seriously? How would my life be different if I lived as though each day were the last day?

What about you? How long did your commute take on Wednesday?

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