get to shelter . . . NOW
Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to Him for protection. – Proverbs 30:5
Sirens and smoke alarms. Flashing lights and roadside flares. Red flag warnings and RxR crossings. Warnings are meant to help us steer clear of potential hazards or impending disaster. When we pay attention and take action, warnings keep us safe from danger.
I was born and raised in Iowa, where tornados are an unavoidable part of life. If you’ve ever experienced a Midwest tornado warning, you know they are intentionally loud. That blaring siren indicates that a tornado has been sighted, with imminent danger to life and property—it’s time to take immediate action.
Years ago, my husband Jeff and I took a road trip back to visit family with our children who were still very young at the time. Driving along, Jeff and I could tell by the ominous sky that severe weather was brewing. Now our California-born kids were familiar with earthquakes, but knew nothing of danger signs associated with tornados. Needless to say, the threatening skies made no impression on them. We tuned the radio to a local station and kept watch out our window.
A few miles down the road, our assessment was abruptly confirmed by an annoying buzzer breaking through the radio, followed by a serious warning. Buzz!—buzz!—buzz!—the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning in your area! The radio alert inside our car was simultaneously echoed by an ear-piercing air siren that warned the entire community. Our young daughter, understandably panicked, covered her ears and cried, “Turn it off!”
Tornado sirens are frightening. The warning is sharp, loud, and persistent. But it serves a life-preserving purpose for those in danger. The message is unmistakable:
Get to shelter . . . NOW
Ideally, those who hear it will respond in haste and take the necessary measures to be safe from harm.
Growing up, I remember one neighbor who would boast about ignoring the warnings. He loved to sit on his porch and watch the storm approach. Sure, he would send his family down to the basement—but he wouldn’t heed the warning for himself.
My parents trained us well to take tornado warnings seriously. The minute we heard a siren, we knew it was time to seek shelter, no matter what we were doing or where we were.
I’m thankful for warnings that alert me to danger I cannot see. This is what God does for us all through His Word. With perfect knowledge and protecting love, the Lord warns us when trouble is brewing.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our own lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT).
We do well to tune into His Word and diligently keep watch over our heart (see Proverbs 4:23). When the Lord sounds a warning to steer clear of trouble, what are some of the ways we respond?
Turn it off.
Some say, “Turn it off—I don’t want to hear it or think about it.” Allowing Scripture to examine our thoughts and behavior can be painful, even scary at times. But Jesus already knows what’s in our heart and loves us anyway! He is faithful to steer us away from harm and guide us along the right paths (see Psalm 23:3-4).
Flirting with danger.
Some hear the warning but don’t apply it to themselves. Like the guy who stands on the porch, flirting with danger while he tells everyone else to get to safety (“I wish so-and-so could hear this”). The Bible is very clear on this point.
“If you think you are standing strong, be careful you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NIV).
“Don’t just listen to God’s Word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves” (James 1:22 NLT).
Listen and obey.
Some hear the warning and take action to seek shelter right away. This is always the wisest, safest response! Each letter that Jesus wrote to the churches (Revelation 2-3) finishes with the same admonition. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
When you read the Bible, do you listen with an intentional, conscientious effort to apply and obey? Do you underline, highlight, look deeper? This isn’t about gaining head knowledge—we mean active listening. Having an ear to hear takes focus. Humility. A teachable heart. Willingness to be challenged and changed.
Warnings may be difficult, even unpleasant to hear. But they are a declaration of God’s infinite love and protection over us. How we respond is up to us.
God has given us ears to hear. Are you listening?
The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to Him and are safe. – Proverbs 18:10