DON’T PULL THE ALARM

fire alarm.bmpIn the small town of  Enterprise, Alabama in 1997,  a new post office opened. It was the talk of the town! The old post office was a few miles away, behind the courthouse, and it had not been updated since 1650. Well, at least it looked that way!

I had to mail a package a few days after the Grand Opening. Zach was four and Noah was one. As a young mother, and like most young mothers, I dragged my kids all over town while running errands. I kept Noah strapped in the stroller and Zach would hold my hand. It usually worked, but sometimes the boys interrupted my errands. Noah would get fussy, but I always kept a supply of Teddy grahams and juice boxes for Noah. My sweet Zach was good about staying right beside me and I usually didn’t have to worry about him running off and getting into trouble.

When I got to the post office that day, the line was liter- ally out the door. That’s when I remembered UPS had just gone on strike. Everyone now had to use the post office to mail their packages.

I was in line for at least thirty minutes; it was moving at a snail’s pace. We were about half way to a clerk when Noah began fussing. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring inside the snacks and drink boxes which were in my car. As I was trying to calm Noah, I heard the fire alarm go off, and it was loud! I looked up from Noah, and that’s when I saw my sweet, 4-year-old Zach standing underneath the bright red fire alarm box with his hand on the pull lever. He was guilty as charged!

The postmaster yelled to everyone, “Evacuate! Evacuate the building now! The fire department is on the way!” Even though I told the postmaster that my son had pulled the alarm, he replied, “Ma’am, this is mandatory procedure. Everyone must evacuate. Now!”

Of course, I was not popular in the post office after that. People looked at me as if I was the worst mother ever. I obvi- ously didn’t have control over my kids, or that would never have happened. I quickly left and put both kids in the van where Zach had a little meeting with a wooden spoon I car- ried in my purse. Needless to say, I did not mail my package that day or even any day that week. I was too embarrassed to go back to the post office. I waited two weeks until the UPS strike was over!

I see this same scenario often played out in my life. At times I’ve pulled the alarm on a situation. I’ve jumped to conclusions about a person just because someone told me something about that person. I’ve made fast judgments and quick decisions without asking God and waiting for His answer. I’ve believed the gossip when I didn’t know the whole truth.

The alarm I pull by being hasty causes a fire truck or two to put out the “fire” I lit by not hearing correctly, by being impatient, or by listening to gossip. I’ve had to learn this lesson the hard way, and I’m still learning it. And yet, every time I pull the alarm, God gently corrects me. Next time I hope to be more careful.

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. (PSALM 27:14 NLT)