Thirty-Eight Minutes



I’ve accompanied John on his business trip to San Francisco this week, and while he’s been in marathon meetings, I’m checking out the city, meeting friends, eating the tea leaf salad at Burma Superstar or just enjoying the view from the 32nd floor of our hotel, with its panorama of the financial district, the Embarcadero and the SF Bay.


Last night as I lay snuggled in my bed with my Kindle on my lap, I was startled by a thunderous bang. As I popped my head up and looked into the night sky to the east, I was relieved to see fireworks over the bay.


But anything is possible, really.


From the moment I’d heard about Hawaii’s false alarm this past weekend, I’ve imagined screenwriters feverishly banging out movies scripts. I can see an ensemble cast—Jennifer Lawrence, Mark Wahlberg, the Ryans—Reynolds and Gosling, the Chrises—Pratt, Evans and Hemsworth, the C(K)ates—Blanchette and Winslow, Jeremy Renner, Emma Stone, Amy Adams, maybe Melissa McCarthy to lighten things up…different people from all walks of life who happened to be on an island in the Pacific and told they had a few minutes to live. The storyline would be simple. Straightforward question: How did the people spend those (perceived) final moments?


~What “shelter” did they seek, what suddenly became most important to each and every one of them?


Did they get proactive, try and somehow fix the problem? Did they get laser focused, or did they numb, and get drunk? Did they soften or did they harden and get angry? Did they talk non-stop, or did they stop and listen? Did they finally give that person a piece of their mind, or did they make a long overdue phone call to say sorry? What internal shifts took place in the space of their heart? What became instantly crystal clear?


I listen to music in my morning quiet time. I have a playlist that includes Megan Trainor’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.”  Even though I’ve implemented that reminder, I forget. Even as I write this from this fabulous view of the city by the bay, I may not have more than thirty-eight minutes. You may not either.


Human error caused the false alarm in the Pacific. Someone pushed the wrong button. Knowing that, two things come to mind. First, the next time it may not be an erroneous alert. And second, maybe this was a wake-up call, a gift in disguise.


Don’t wait for the ballistic missile aimed at your head. Lets all love and live our thirty-eight moments now. There’s no time like it.


James 4:14