38 Minutes

The state of Hawaii was thrown in a panic on Saturday, January 13. At 8:07 a.m. an alert was sent out by the Hawaii Department of Emergency Management warning the state of an impending missile attack. Hawaii has been preparing for quite some time to distribute such warnings, due to the increased threat by North Korea. The warning sent by text read, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” Indeed, it was not a drill. But it was a false alert. A false alert that no one knew was false for 38 minutes.

Here are the words of one person who lived through the experience:

I woke up to a solid emergency alert tone coming from my phone just after 8:00 a.m. You know the kind that hits all smartphones simultaneously when there’s an amber alert or a flood warning? The kind that makes your heart skip a beat . . . I rolled over, unplugged my fully charged phone, and read it. Then, I read it again. By the time I finished reading it the second time I was scrambling through our dresser drawers looking for a t-shirt and pair of shorts I wouldn’t mind wearing for a while. The alert read, “Ballistic Missile Threat Inbound to Hawaii. Seek Immediate Shelter. This Is Not A Drill” . . . I kept rereading “This is not a drill.” My mind was going a dozen different directions. My husband was traveling for work. We don’t have kids. I was in a house by myself. My phone started going off with messages from a group text with friends that all live within a couple of miles. Four minutes after I got the alert I was downstairs sliding on my sandals and on the phone with a dear friend who lives a mile away asking/telling her I was coming over. None of us really knew what to do . . .

One person posted afterwards, “Why are the people in Hawaii freaking out? It was a false alarm.” The reality is that for those folks in Hawaii, it was the longest 38 minutes of their life. Not one person living in Hawaii probably went to bed thinking it could be their last night of sleep. Most of them woke up to the sound of their phones warning them it possibly was.

No doubt it was great news that the warning was a false alarm. No doubt a great sigh of relief was heard from one side of the state to the other. But we should all gain some perspective from this false alert.

What if you received a warning like those in Hawaii? How would you spend those last minutes of your life? Would you pray? Would you sing praises? Would you try one last time to teach your friend about Jesus? If you had 38 minutes left, how would you spend them? Starting today, why not live every “38 minutes” you have, as if they are your last “38 minutes” left?

The other obvious lesson is one of being prepared. Paul says the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10). Jesus said we wouldn’t know the day or hour when He would come (Matt. 25:13). We must always be prepared and ready.

Today could be our last day here. Tonight could be our final sleep on earth. Are you ready?