The weather forecast for Southeast England earlier this week was appalling. The Meteorological Office issued a warning about rain and wind, predicting a seriously good day for ducks on Wednesday, but a seriously bad day for humans. I had to be in London all day Wednesday. Taking note of the forecast I travelled down as far as Heathrow Airport on Tuesday evening and stayed at a hotel with parking that is conveniently attached to Terminal Five and a five-minute walk from the platform for the Heathrow Express train.
After checking out from the hotel on Wednesday morning I made sure that I had a raincoat and umbrella with me before heading into London. The rain wasn’t too bad when I arrived at Paddington Station and ventured down to the underground. The platform for the Circle and District Lines is partly open to the sky at Paddington, providing commuters with a hint of the weather outside. Looking around at those waiting for the next train I was surprised at how many were totally unprepared for the forecasted deluge.
Stepping out from Kings Cross Station I was glad of my coat. The walk to my final destination only took ten minutes but people around me were getting wet. And it got wetter as the day went on. Several hours later when work was completed I walked back to Kings Cross with two other people, one of whom had a coat and one of whom had nothing to protect him from the torrential rain.
What I don’t understand is why at least 50% of Londoners decided either not to look at the weather forecast or chose to ignore it? I know that forecasters sometimes get it wrong but they don’t issue warnings without some expectation of a significant event. We humans ignore warnings at our peril. Even if the forecast turns out to be totally wrong I would rather be prepared.
The weather on Wednesday reminded me of a parable Jesus told about being prepared in Matthew 25. It involved ten bridesmaids who were waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom but fell asleep. Five had been ready for a long wait and had brought lamps and a supply of oil. Five had lamps but no oil. When the bridegroom finally appeared the bridesmaids with no oil for their lamps had to go and buy some oil, but by the time they returned the door was closed and they were left outside. Jesus also spoke to the so-called intelligentsia of his day about looking out for signs. He said:
“You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow; red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times! (Matthew 16:2-3 NLT)
There are signs all around us in our troubled world. Jesus said that there would be wars and rumours of wars, earthquakes and famines, and signs in the heavens. We need to be ready. No one but God knows when Jesus will return, but He will. When He does return it will be too late to suddenly decide to believe in Him, because the door will be shut.
It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade. The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (John 10:22-30 NLT)