When you’re a homeowner, there are certain things that can flat-out stop your day and shift all of the gravity of your life in an instant. There are certain things that demand your attention right now, no matter how late you are for that thing, and no matter how cool that show you were watching may be. Examples include, but are not limited to the following: the heat going out in the dead of winter, the discovery of rats or skunks camping out in your ventilation ducts, water dripping on the dining room table, ancient and enormous trees falling on your roof… Well, the other day, we discovered another one: the smell of smoke. One minute Christy and I were working on dinner while laughing and singing along merrily to the Disney Pixar soundtrack playlist that our kids are obsessed with, and the very next instant we were tearing through the house with hearts racing and adrenaline pumping while furiously asking one question: What’s on fire?!

Thankfully, the house wasn’t actually ablaze. After much searching, we discovered that one of the girls had left a frilly, be-flowered headband on the lamp in their bedroom. the headband had slipped down onto the lightbulb, which proceeded to cook it just like an easy bake oven from back in the day. Thus the smoke. The really cool/funny part happened next. You see, at some point during the frantic search for fire, Christy and I realized that the smoke detector never came on, which was troubling. When it was all over, I figured I better test the smoke detector. Well, when I did, (in the words of C.S. Lewis) many things happened at once. First, an ear-splitting siren broke the peace of the house, followed by the recording of a woman’s voice calmly repeating the words, “Fire. Fire. Carbon Monoxide. Fire.” The siren made Christy jump and even though I was the one who pushed the button, I flinched as well. Next, I noticed that Anna was rolling around on the ground while the other kids were just doing their thing, playing. When I finally turned the siren off, I asked Anna, “What are you doing?” She looked at me incredulously and said, “Dad! Stop, Drop and Roll!” 

Ah, the wonders of public education! As soon as Anna heard that fire drill sound, she instinctively stopped, dropped and rolled, just like she had been taught to do in school. Norah just kept on singing, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” at the top of her lungs and Jack was running around in circles babbling, but Anna was executing a textbook ‘stop drop and roll.’ In most situations, the three kids are basically the same, but turn on a fire alarm, and you can instantly tell which one has been to school.

It reminded me of a time in Luke 7 when a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus over to his house for dinner. While they were working their way through what I’m sure was a fantastic meal, a woman gatecrashed the party, ran over to Jesus and began making a fool of herself. She had brought an alabaster jar of perfume with which to anoint Jesus, but before she could get it open, tears started flowing uncontrollably from her eyes onto Jesus’ feet, so she anointed Him with her tears and washed his feet with her hair. Eventually she managed to pour some of the perfume on Him, but only after this complete fiasco of explosive emotion had totally disrupted the dinner party.

Simon looked at Jesus with disgust while thinking to himself, “If Jesus were really a prophet, He would know that this woman is a skank.” Jesus read the guy’s mind and then told him a story about two debtors; one who owed a little money and one who owed a ton of money. They were both forgiven. Jesus said, “Which one of these would love their creditor more?” Simon said, “I guess the one with the bigger debt.” “You got it,” Jesus said. In other words, it’s not hard to tell when someone really knows God and really ‘gets it.’ People who turn their noses up at folks and talk about them and hate them don’t get it. They don’t know God. You see, to know God is to know that whoever you are, you have been as big of a mess as anyone in this whole world and that if you come to Him, Jesus will actually erase all that debt and call you righteous and clean. When you understand that and really know it down in the depths of who you are, it changes you. The folks who get it are not hard to spot. They’re the folks who are overflowing with unceasing gratitude and uncontainable love for Jesus.