lost power

last night storms raged across north texas. christy was in dallas and called to get a weather report-- she heard about possible tornadoes. i checked the radar and told her it was ok, but big rain was coming through, so she needed to leave immediately. the worst of the storms came through after midnight. we woke up to a strange sound, sort of like an alarm clock, but it was nowhere near 7:00. it was the smoke alarm, telling us the power went out.

the alarm is not battery operated-- so if the electricity kicks off, i learned it will scream. why is this? it had never happened before when the power was out-- why last night? and since there was no battery to rip out at 12:30, surely there was a button to silence the alarm, right? no. so christy and i scrambled to turn the thing off-- trying to unplug it, bash it with a hammer, rip it from the wall, anything. nothing helped. so we went back to bed. somehow the kids slept all night with the constant screeching.

what is the point of this technology? if the house is on fire or there is a carbon monoxide leak somehwere, i want to know immediately-- scream as loud as possible. but a power outage? isn't looking at the alarm clock flashing 1:11 when the sun is up enough? why must i be awakened because of loss of electricity?

when we awoke from a very restless sleep the power was still out, the thing still buzzing. the neighbors had electricity, and i ran across the street to the church-- it was on there too in most of the building. i warmed up baby's milk in the microwave (later had to return a second time) and came home. the big boys could not have their regular breakfast: oatmeal or toast or waffles. they had bananas. it always amazes me how life grounds to a halt when modern conveniences fail us-- try to go a day without microwave, for example, and check the impact on your life! i'm not talking about the unnescessary conveniences that often fail, like cell phones, tv, computers-- i'm talking about ovens, refrigerators, air conditioning. how did we ever survive without them? and what would happen to us if they became unavilable?

lots of great lessons here to think about:
1. many people around the world can hardly dream of the things you and i can access at any time. billions lack decent water, drugs, food, and shelter. it's hard to be concerned about a toaster when one must live on a few scoops of grain each day.
2. technology in worship, while a very good thing because it opens new possibilities to reach people, has its downsides, and when it fails, look out. i shudder to think how many sermons would flop in our churches every week if the pastor's movie clip was not available! understand i am not arguing against the practice-- i have used it several times, very effectively-- but the message better based on something deeper than a 90 second film clip.
3. we should speak more to our grandparents about their lives. i am always fascinated to talk to mema and papa, both in their 80s now. you'd think they grew up on the other side of the world or something. and yet while living on very little income they had full, fun childhoods and early adult experiences. just 70 years ago people would have thought the things you and i have today came out of a science fiction comic book.

i am not saying technology is bad and that i want to leave the 21st century and go back to the 19th. i would not last 5 minutes. but experiences like early this morning show us what is important, what is necessary, and what is not. the next time that smoke alarm wakes me up at 12:30 i will pause and be grateful for what i have-- not. i will be just as annoyed. but sometimes we need little wake up calls like that, if for no other reason than to give us a reality check of our place in the universe.