Getting My Attention!

October 3, 2000

Hebrews 2:1 – We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. (NIV)

I had seen her many times before. My daily walk took me right past her house. Sometimes I would see her sitting on the porch watching as her husband worked in the yard. Other times, she would be taking a walk — but she would never venture very far from her home. The way she carried her arm across the front of her frail body gave me the impression that this elderly woman might have suffered a stroke sometime in her past.

But today was different. As I approached her house, she was coming down the driveway as fast as her condition would allow. As she neared, she was stammering over and over, "Fire, fire! Please help!" "Fire, fire! Please help!"

I was startled and confused, but there was no one else around. I knew I had to do something, but what? I certainly didn't know how to fight a fire. Immediately I thought of running to her neighbour's house to call 911, but I could tell by the look on the woman's face and by her gestures that she wanted me to go into her house. While reluctant, I figured that if the smoke wasn't bad and her phone was still working, I could make the call from her house. She pointed towards the back door, and after rushing to get there, I paused and looked carefully for any smoke. I didn't see or smell any at all. By then the lady had caught up with me and motioned for me to go in.

She pointed down the hallway. Continually looking and smelling for smoke, I followed her directions towards a small bathroom. There still was no smoke, but as I entered the bathroom, I heard the sound of water running — and soon I saw that the sink was full of water, overflowing onto the floor. In fact the floor was already covered with water.

Seeing that the water was running into the sink at full force — I assumed that the faucet must have been broken and couldn't be turned off. Nevertheless, I turned the faucet to the "off" position and was surprised to see that the water stopped immediately. Next, after noticing that a rubber stopper was covering the drain, I reached down into the water, removed the stopper, and the water began to disappear down the drain. Problem solved!

Her voice stammering, the woman thanked me profusely and said that everything would be all right now. I asked about cleaning up the water from the floor, but in a faltering voice she told me her husband would soon be home, and he would help her clean it up.

As I was leaving, she continued to thank me over and over again, stammering with each, "Thank you". But when I got to the back door, I felt obliged to warn her of the dangers of crying "Wolf", or in this case, the dangers of crying "Fire!"

So I said, "Ma'am, you really shouldn't be running out of the house yelling 'Fire' when there is no fire. That could have caused a serious problem."

Then she sort of cocked her head to the side and looked me straight in the eye. I'll never forget what she said. "Young man," (Oh, I liked that — no one's called me a "young man" for a long time.) But without any stammering, in a clear, unmistakable voice, she said, "Young man, would you have even stopped to help if I had come running out of the house yelling, 'Water, water!'? I had to get your attention!"

Prayer: Our Father, while we are mere sinners, you sent Your Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Thank You for getting our attention. We are undeserving but so very grateful. Help us to pay attention and not drift away. We pray all things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

About the author:

Jim Taylor
Rocky Mount, North Carolina, USA

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