Speaking of... Life, Hope & Truth

16 Minutes of Warning

What if you had 16 minutes to get ready for a major storm that was headed right toward you? From news reports, it seems that this is exactly what happened to a group of teachers and students at an elementary school in Moore, Oklahoma, on the afternoon of May 20.

We don’t know how strong the winds were in the May 20 tornado just yet, but preliminary reports are calling it an EF-5 tornado with winds over 200 miles per hour. This storm is being compared to a similar one that took the same path back in May of 1999. That storm was determined to be the strongest on record with a wind velocity of over 300 miles per hour. To think that this latest storm could have been bigger and more damaging is shocking to consider.

As has been the case in recent years, we know that more would have died had it not been for the early warning system that gave those directly in the storm’s path at least 16 minutes of warning.

During an interview, the city manager from Oklahoma City was asked what could be done for the people in the area. The answer from the city manager was “ask everyone to pray.” The Oklahoma governor at a news conference reported that she had just spoken with President Obama, and he told her to let everyone know that “our prayers are with you and the citizens of Oklahoma.” Throughout the day we heard newscasters, citizens and government officials asking that people pray to God for His mercy and help as a result of the deaths and property damage that accompanied this storm. 

We seem to have no problem invoking the name of God in the wake of natural disasters, but if God’s name is brought up regarding a social issue or an issue of morality, it seems that individuals are accused of being insensitive or, even worse, some sort of religious fanatic. No longer does it seem that our society wants to involve God in their personal lives, certainly they don’t want Him involved in setting any sort of standard for human conduct.

Think about that. As a nation, we declare that the taking of life through abortion is legal. So, on the one hand, we are asked to pray for human life when a storm strikes while, on the other hand, we legalize an activity which takes the lives of thousands of unborn babies each year.

With 16 minutes of warning on Monday, May 20, no doubt many lives were saved. Yet, as a nation, we overlook the fact that more than 2,000 years ago, warnings about human conduct, identifying what is sinful and what is not, were written in the pages of the Bible. Christ warned us to protect human life and not destroy it. He warned us to love our enemies, which forbids doing harm to another human being. But His words are universally ignored today.

Wouldn’t it be better if we asked for God’s involvement in all our activities and not just when a storm or tragedy strikes our nation? Wouldn’t it be better if we responded to warnings from 2,000 years ago just as we do the warnings of an impending natural disaster? After all, according to the Bible, the potential for harm and permanent damage is real if we ignore God’s warning messages, just as the damage from a major storm can only be minimized if we take the warnings seriously.

As Christians, we are praying for God’s mercy in the wake of this terrible storm in Moore, Oklahoma, and for the families that have been directly affected. And as those same Christians, we must be praying that we will rediscover the standard of moral conduct and behavior as laid out in Scripture.

Isn’t that the way it should be?

For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Jim Franks.