Do you remember what it was like in grade school when it was time for a fire drill? “Line up, quickly and quietly,” the teacher would say. “No talking in line.”
Out you go with your classmates onto the playground, where you wait for what seems like a long time. Finally, after the principal gets a head count of all the classes, the “all clear” bell rings, and everyone files back inside.
The first couple of times you experience a fire drill, it’s a very serious matter. But when it becomes routine, you sometimes wonder if it’s really worth the bother.
I was visiting at a nursing home recently, and when the fire alarm drill went off, it seemed like a real inconvenience for all the residents to get wheeled into the hallway.
Firefighters will tell you that the fact that this becomes routine is exactly the point and the main reason why fire drills are so valuable. You see, when a genuine emergency happens, confusion and panic are deadly enemies. A mad rush for the wrong exit can mean certain death, but when people automatically know what to do and where to go, lives are saved instead of going up in flames.
Practice makes perfect! Having an escape plan for both the home and public places, and practicing the plan until it becomes routine are really good ideas.
But there are other types of emergencies which call for a different kind of “drill.” For instance:
1) When the doctor’s diagnosis for you or a loved one is cancer, panic can set in. “If there is a God who is good, why would He let this happen to me? If God is love, then where is His love for me?”
These are thoughts that come when this kind of disaster strikes.
Do you know the answer to these questions right now? Will you
be ready to face them calmly when an emergency happens?
2) When a personal sin or failure that you thought was a secret is found out, despair often comes with it. “Can I ever make things right again with my family and friends? Can I ever be accepted by God with this kind of stain on my record?”
We need to know, right now, where to go with such questions
before the crisis happens.
3) When the day of our death draws near—and it’s getting closer for each one of us, every day—that is the time when the most pressing questions of all arise in our minds. “When I close my eyes in death, what happens then? Where will I be? Will the Lord receive me or reject me?”
It just won’t do to ignore those questions now and hope the answers will be there when the emergency strikes. What we need to do is practice our faith. That means reading, hearing, and learning God’s Word so that His wisdom, instruction, and saving promises become second nature to us.
Can you imagine someone saying, “Oh, I believe in fire safety, but
I think fire drills are a waste of time”? Perhaps it is true that this person will never face a fire emergency, but if he does, this attitude may cost him his life.
The same is true with practicing one’s Christian faith, with one important difference. We already know for a fact that the day of our death—as well as the Day of Judgment—will most certainly happen to each one of us! That’s why God urges us to practice our faith, practice it regularly, and practice it together: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
So, find a Christian fellowship that is faithful to everything the Bible says, and do the drill! Be very familiar with the path to Jesus’ cross, which is the “escape route” to safety from your sins.
Then you will be ready not only for any crisis but you will also find comfort, purpose, hope, and every blessing for the life you live between here and eternity.
Yes, practice really does make perfect!
“Answer Key” for questions above:
1) See 1 Peter 1:3-7; Hebrews 12:5-12; Jeremiah 29:11
2) See Romans 7:17-25; John 5:24; Titus 3:4-7
3) See Psalm 23; John 14:2-3; 1 Timothy 1:15