Faint whispers dance across the room. The teacher has her back to the class while scratching a math problem on the board. Without even turning around, the teacher calls out to a student and requests them to come to the board and work the problem for the class.
As she turns around, the fire alarm sounds.
The children scurry as the teacher tries to speak over their rising voices. She gathers her purse and attendance sheet and asks them to form a line. With one last instruction to the child at the end of the line to shut the door, the teacher marches the class out the door and down the hall. Her class merges and collides with the entire school in the front parking lot.
We all remember them and often were thankful for them. The drills broke up the day and gave each of us an opportunity to continue that conversation we started on the playground or in the lunchroom. But what is the real purpose behind the drills and how does it relate to the Christian life?
Drills Remind Us Danger Lurks
Without drills, it is easy to become complacent and forget that there is danger outside our walls and the self-bubble we seclude ourselves. Drills remind students and teachers that there is a possibility of danger and helps to foster a reaction to the danger when it does appear for real.
We too have the opportunity as believers to remember that danger lurks. Each time a doubt or lie tries to penetrate our minds and thoughts, we have a chance to practice the spiritual fire drill going off in our heads. It is one of God’s ways of reminding us to:
“Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
The enemy is real, and we must be ready to act if we are to have victory over the spiritual fires in our own lives.
Drills Provide Practice Opportunities
How many times does your smoke detector go off and you immediately gather your family and head out the door?
Our first response is usually to question and examine the situation and then decide if it is for real. In fact, according to an article published by United Press International on October 2011, the number of homes that take fire drills seriously are few and far between. The article states:
“A survey by First Alert of 1,000 U.S. Adults indicates 79 percent reported having a home escape plan in place in case of fire or other emergencies, but 51 percent have never practiced it, and 29 percent have only practiced it once.”
If we can’t even practice a fire drill in our homes, what makes us think that when the spiritual fires in our lives come, we will be able to extinguish them without practice?
I thought for sure our family would know what to do if we had a fire drill. After all, it’s not that difficult. But when we did a fire drill for the first time as part of the requirements for being a foster home several years ago, I was surprised by how it went.
We looked like molasses.
My children thought it was ridiculous we even had to do it, and it took some time getting out of the house. But we did, and as we stood in the open field across from our home, I’m sure our neighbors thought we were weird. However, as each month came and we practiced, the path to exit our house in a timely manner became more routine and second nature to us.
Spiritual Fire Drills
Every day we are given the opportunity to prepare for spiritual fires that might ignite around us. The drill is simple.
Open up the Bible.
The best way to extinguish the fiery darts that come our way is with God’s Word. Our first instinct when the alarm goes off in the morning is not to grab our Bible, but our phones it is not? So why would we think that when the fiery darts start flying, we would instantly grab our Bibles?
Men and women in the military have to go through extensive training for them to run towards gunfire instead of away. Human instincts beg us to run and hide, but in the heat of the battle, it is crucial for them to run towards it. This takes time and lots of practice. Without it, they put the lives of those around them as well as their own lives in danger.
If we are not in the practice of grabbing, reading, meditating, and praying God’s Word when the times are good, what will we do when the battle heats up? Our human nature is not bent towards spiritual things. Just as military men and women must train their bodies, so must we.
“Train yourself in godliness, for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7b-8
It is vital for believers always to be practicing the spiritual discipline of spending time in God’s Word and in prayer. Without we are doomed to the flames of the enemy and as John Owen once said,
“Always be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
When the alarm goes off in the morning, will you take part in the spiritual fire drill?
“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the failing arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word.” Ephesians 6:10-17