Disaster movies, are, and pretty much always have been, a popular genre in both novels and films. A typical scenario is that with trouble imminent, a protagonist runs around warning people who are too busy, too disinterested or too selfish to pay attention. Then once the flood comes, the fire burns, the earth quakes, the dinosaurs stampede or the shark attacks, the bewildered, frightened masses, turn to the protagonist to save them.
These stories are exciting and entertaining on the big screen, or in print, but when they happen in real life, they are frustrating and discouraging. Whether we’re dealing with a country, a corporation, a congregation or an individual, it can become quite exhausting to cry, “The bridge is out”, only to discover those you are so desperate to warn, are too ignorant, too arrogant or too distracted to listen.
I am reminded of the prophet, Ezekiel, in the Old Testament. Most people know him as the eccentric preacher who saw the vision of the ‘wheel in a wheel’ and the ‘valley of dry bones’. Ezekiel’s story is much richer than those to events, though; much richer.
On two different occasions, God tells Ezekiel that he is a watchmen and needs to warn the nation that trouble and judgment are coming. God says, (I paraphrase), “If you warn the people and they change and return to me, everybody wins. If you warn them and they refuse to listen, the judgment will come and they will pay the consequences, but your hands are clean. If, however, you fail to sound the alarm, they will still suffer judgment, but I will hold you accountable.”
For what it’s worth, Ezekiel DID warn the people and they did refuse to listen. The story does not end well. You can read all about it in 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
The truth will not always make us popular. Sometimes it will turn us into outcasts, perceived as whiners who are not with the program, or fundamentalists stuck in the past. Sometimes speaking the truth hurts both the speaker and the hearer, but it is always the right thing to do. Win or lose, the truth will set us free.
When the bridge is out, the storm is coming or the waters are shark infested, our task it to ring the bell, sound the alarm. We can’t control the response. Sometimes, all we can do is make the announcement and then ensure we take our own advice and get off the train, take shelter or get out of the water.
Never be afraid of telling the truth. Never be a jerk about it. Never back down. Always do the right thing. We are watchmen, and watchmen watch.