Within a split second, I could have become a statistic when I came close to being run over by a speeding car. Dave and I were biking on a two-lane street, and the only reason I wasn’t turned into road-kill was the driver swerved into the oncoming lane. The only reason she wasn’t killed was no one happened to be in her path.
It was my fault. I pulled out of a side street, and instead of making a sharp right turn to stay on the edge of the road, I pedaled out too far in the direction of the car. You know, the car with the driver with the right-of-way. The driver who fortunately was not texting or applying lipstick or smacking her kids in the back seat. The driver who was alert and paying attention. Unlike me.
Dave was as supportive as he is capable.
“What in the world were you thinking?”
“Obviously I wasn’t. I was distracted.”
“Why didn’t you use your brakes?”
“Because I panicked.”
Sometimes, being alert is hard. I’ve left my credit card, my favorite jacket, and even my kids when I failed to take care of what was important. I have run a red light, paid too much for a grocery item, ignored a sad waitress and waxed my eyebrows unsymmetrically. I have failed to check Google Maps before starting cross-country trips, erred in how much tomato paste I need for a recipe and mistook a stranger’s sense of humor for mine.
But unlike me pulling out in front of a car, those aren’t life-and-death issues. Life and death issues deal with…well, life and death. Like dying and spending eternity somewhere…which, in my case, could have come from me not paying attention while peddling around that corner. Staying alert is critical.
Look at this warning from Proverbs 4:20-26: Dear friend, listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice. Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart! … Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts…Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Why do we have to be advised of something so obvious? And why is it so difficult to pay attention to what should matter most? God warned that the flood was coming, yet only eight people in Noah’s family believed and were saved.
As Lot’s kin fled Sodom, an angel cautioned them not to look back on their city. Lot’s wife failed to obey and turned into a statue of salt.
Solomon was told not to worship false gods. Did he heed the advice? Uh, no.
God cautioned Israel through Jeremiah and Ezekiel of their impending captivity by the Babylonians. They knew better than God…or thought they did.
The Bible gives us clear instructions as to how we need to pay attention, yet for many, that book serves only as a dust-collector instead of an instruction manual on how to remain alert and mindful of dangers ahead… distractions that might cost them their eternal lives.