Today I was minding my own business here at home, writing and putting the finishing touches on my course for tomorrow evening when the fire alarm sounded. For more than 10 minutes I assumed this was a planned drill ("I have just missed the written reminder the building staff send in the mail," I thought). I even looked out my peephole and saw one of the cleaners standing in the hallway diligently doing her work. So I ignored the terrifyingly loud ring and resumed and again picked up what interests me. But when the bell was still blaring after 20 minutes, and the concierge would not answer my phone call, I decided to grab a book (yes, I took the time to do this!), and hit the stairs heading for ground level. Since we live on the 41st floor and the elevators were out of order, I had a long way to go.
When I managed to get all the way down, sure enough, it was a false alarm. I took the easy elevator ride back to my flat giving my weary legs that felt like jelly a chance to rest. But on the way back up I thought, "what if this was the real thing? Danger really is real." Then I related this experience to the reality of danger in my own spirituality and walk through this life. Here are some reminders that came as a result of this experience:
1. Danger is real. Part of what makes life exciting, but also scary is danger. One of my motivations for going downstairs was a bad fire that took place in Hong Kong three Sundays ago over on Nathan Road in which a few firemen and some residents died. Since this fire was fresh in my memory, and its danger palpable I decided to see if this really was a false alarm. We know danger is real, but often we need to be reminded of the consequences of doing nothing to protect ourselves. I guess the question is what are we doing to protect ourselves against the dangers that threaten our souls? This is worth considering.
2. We are lulled to sleep by a false sense of security and we are ill prepared to deal with real danger if & when it strikes. What if this really was a fire? What if I had opened the door of my apartment and saw smoke or felt the intense heat of fire? Would I have so easily and so calmly have walked down those stairs? No! I may well have been trapped by danger on the move, threatening my life. This is true of life in the Spirit. He speaks, and teaches, and prepares but do we listen, and learn, and are we ready? Or have we been lulled to sleep by a false sense of security that comes from years and years of just going through the motions assuming most alarms are not real? This is worth considering.
3. The way of escape is narrow and small. Trotting down 41 stories took a long time and it was uncomfortable. The stairwells are narrow and if this had been a real escape route, especially during a time when the building was full, the stairs would have been packed with panicked, frightened people. One could easily be trampled to death. This is what it can feel like escaping the dangers of the devil on earth. Sometimes we feel that we just narrowly escape a trap he has set for us. Sometimes we are in a panic realizing we barely have a way out and if we want to take it we need to move NOW. And at yet other times, we see so many others also running from this temptation that we wonder if we will get trampled on the narrow escape route from fire and death. This is worth considering.