Oct 5, 2005

alarms we ignore

For the record, I like comic books.

It’s why I occasionally pop into random libraries to see what their selection offers. Maybe that sounds shallow, but so much of what I do in life is intense already. Comic books give me the chance to unplug and check in with my favorite fictional heroes. I usually find what I’m looking for somewhere in between the magazines falling apart on the shelves of the children’s section and the “graphic novels” found in the teen section.

Yeah… I’m that guy.

(Don't know what a graphic novel is? They're comic books with a hard outside. Someone came up with the fancy pants title because he didn't like being called a geek. It's like when Trekkies started wanted to be known as Trekkers. Yeah... like that makes a difference.)

In one particular library, I found a goldmine of selections on the third floor. One was a book called "KINGDOM COME." Not only does this have a cool storyline in itself, but it has several references from Revelation contained within. It asks the question "what would the world look like years after the heroes and villains had kids, not to mention the heroes of old (and their values) faded away?"

If you've ever read a Superman comic in your life, this is good stuff.

This section was also a media area where people might grab a movie or listen to music on old machines. As I sat down in the corner, I observed:

  • An old man nearby looked like Uncle Jesse from the Dukes of Hazzard. His head was tilted back, spotlighting how his red hat and white ear-to-ear beard. A big fat set of headphones made it appear that he was listening to something, but upon closer examination one would notice how his mouth was wide open as he gently snored.
  •  A group of special-ed adults on a field trip had just arrived. They were all being just a bit loud, and their guide was walking them through their options.
  • One librarian behind the counter was sitting down behind a computer, while another librarian stacked old videos.
This whole area and the children's section nearby were quite busy. Soccer moms sat in play areas and read to their kids. Teenagers looked through the cart of recent returns. I started reading something intriguing, and a half hour instantly went by.

Then out of nowhere...


An obnoxious alarm sounded. If I had to guess, it sounded like a fire alarm.

And yet... no one moved.
  • Uncle Jessie? Still sleeping.
  • Field trip group? Still chatting
  • The librarians? Still working.
  • Soccer moms? Still reading.
I paused for a nano-second, wondering if there would be any sign of personal instruction. All I heard was two employees chatting in one of the backrooms:
“I hope someone shuts that off soon.”
“I know. It's so annoying!”
“Hey, where did we put the Blue's Clues videos?”
Within a few minutes, it all ended. Everyone went back to, well... what they were already doing the whole time.

That is, until five minutes later when a frantic lady ran up the stairs and firmly shared, "Alright, third floor! Everyone has to leave right now! Let's go! Let's go! It's a fire alarm."
  • One flight of stairs.
  • One floor full of kids and adults and special needs.
  • One elevator not able to be used.
  • Priceless.
Everyone rushed for the stairs all at once, almost at the expense of others. I've never seen so many people move so fast while trying to look calm.
From where I was in the cattle drive, I began to hear some clicking behind me. A lady on crutches was making her way... slowly... to the stairs. She was the librarian from behind the counter, and no one was helping her.
Maybe it was the fact that I'd just read about Superman and the loss of traditional values in comic books... or maybe it was the Holy Spirit... but I couldn't help but help. "Excuse me," I began, "can you make it down the stairs okay?"

"Yes. But it will just take me some time."

"Okay, I'll walk with you." And I did. Down a very round staircase with lots of kids and strollers and special needs people and frantic adults and... well, everyone... trying to push past us. It took several minutes, but we finally reached the main floor.

"Thank you... that was very considerate."

"No problem, ma'am."

I got to my car which was parked where the fire trucks would soon be pulling in. Thankfully, I got out before getting blocked in. As I drove away, though, I wondered...

Why didn't anyone move when they heard the alarm?
Maybe it was the voice of a person that made all the difference.

Hmm... any lessons when it comes to sharing Jesus Christ?
    How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:14)


Marcia said...

I like it. Very..."parabolical"!

Simone said...

wow, you write beautifully. You've got an amazing gift of experiencing something, taking something out of everyday life and relating it back to the thing that matters; us as Christians. I love reading your blog.

Tony Myles said...


Thanks! Just glad my ramblings out loud have a nugget or two to share.

Rev_DeanL said...

Thanks for this post Tony! I think we all are guilty of wondering who is going to take care of that annoyance, while we sit leisurely sipping Starbucks. Thanks for reminding me to respond to the "alarms" of life that lead us to opportunities to share Christ.

Amen brother!


Royal said...

Awesome illustration Superman...

Superman wantabee.....

david rudd said...

good story. someone needed to interpret the alarm.

how will i help people interpret their story in light of God's story?

TB said...

Permission to rip-off your point whenever the opportunity arises - please? Fantastic stuff.
I'm struck by your seeing the librarian on crutches. While everyone runs, grace in the sense of assistance, is offered to those who will receive it. In our pride, we try to run for the stairs and miss out on receiving the help we need.

Tony Myles said...

Permission granted... that's the beauty of blogging.