The problem with telling us a storm is coming

As I am writing this, Storm Eunice is apparently on its way. Apparently Storm Dudley has just got off. But, nevertheless, a mega-storm is apparently coming for which we are to prepare.

As my wife and I were watching the news yesterday – she loves a bit of weather news – I wondered, what are we actually supposed to do? She asked me what I meant. So I explained. Apparently a major storm is coming. It is significant enough to be all over the news warning us. We are hearing about the scare stories that happened from the last storm – trees blown down, cars written off, houses hit, etc, etc. So, what exactly are we supposed to do?

I am always struck by this sort of weather news. I hear the warnings and always think, what am I supposed to do with that? Are they telling me to board up my house? If so, how do I actually do that? Are they just suggesting I avoid public transport? Are they telling me something else? It is never really very clear. I hear the warnings – I believe the warning – but I just don’t really know what I’m supposed to do with it.

The truth is, a storm is coming and – whilst I hear the warning and believe it – the only thing I know to do is to sit in my house and hope for the best. I don’t know if that’s what I’m supposed to do. Nobody really seems to be telling me!

I then got to thinking, a lot of preaching is a bit like that.

We get 30 minutes of exposition from a passage. We are implored with whatever the passage is suggesting in abstract terms. We hear the warning, or the encouragement, we believe it, but then we end up wondering, what am I supposed to do with that? The problem is, much like the news, nobody seems to be telling us.

It’s not much good sending 30-minutes convincing us of something that we are already convinced by. And it isn’t much help to take 30-minutes explaining something that we had grasped – at least the main takeaway – in the first 5-minutes. We are with you, we believe what you’re saying, we understand what the passage is fundamentally driving at. NOW TELL ME WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT!

It’s not good if the news reporter turns round and says, ‘I told you the storm was coming’. We knew that. What we didn’t know is what we were supposed to do about it. If they don’t fill you in on that key bit of information we are stuffed.

In the same way, it’s no good if the preacher says, ‘I told you what it meant’. We know that. What we didn’t know is what we were supposed to do about it. If you don’t fill us in on that key bit of information we are equally stuffed.