Several former members of our church now live in Hawaii. What follows are their reflections from the recent false alert concerning an incoming ballistic missile.
At 08:07AM a text alert flashed on Dee’s phone— that read “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
The two weeks leading up to that moment had been a whirlwind for her. A grueling work schedule coupled by unending church activities left Dee with little margin for much of anything, especially time with God. But when the alert broke through, time stood still.
We now know the alert was a mistake and it will certainly be laughed off in the days ahead. But when the screens of Hawaiian residents lit up that morning, it was no laughing matter. It was widely known from previous reports that if a warning was issued, there would be only 12-14 minutes until impact. Thousands of people thought they were doing to die.
Her mind raced wondering, “Is this really how it’s going to end for me?” She pulled a U-turn on the freeway and called her husband, Antonio, and calmly explained they were under attack. She was in survival mode and told him to shut all windows, blinds, curtains, and start filling the bathtub and sinks with water. She’d be home as quickly as she could.
Antonio hurriedly complied and then dropped to his knees in prayer. He recalls, “I had a sense of Gods sovereignty and peace that God knew our needs before we did. Somehow I had a peaceful assurance that He would use this to bring much glory to Himself. In that moment, I fully believed His promise to make all things, even this, to work together for our good.”
A Moment of Regret
As Dee sped home, she too had peace, but it was mixed with vexation. She recounted the previous weeks of distance from God and how even that morning, she had rushed around for the baby shower, giving little time for God—and now she was going to meet Him!
What would she say? She knew she was secure in His grace, but at the same time felt ashamed for allowing fleeting things to crowd out her time with Him. She prayerfully asked Him to forgive her shortsightedness.
As soon as Dee returned home, they cleared out an inner closet under the stairs, storing away food, water, and cloths to cover their faces or stuff in the crevice of the closet door to limit nuclear fallout. They kept their phones plugged in until the last minute.
Grains of sand falling through the hourglass play tricks on you in those moments. On the one hand they seem to move ever slowly. Everything grinds along with intensity that can be felt in the air. Yet at the same time, the moments rush by in a blur. Terror like this is disorienting and reorienting all at the same time.
Antonio said, “Neither of us cried until it was over.” Thirty-eight minutes had passed until the warning was lifted. They held each other and wept. There would be no nuclear fallout this day, but there was an emotional and spiritual one.
Later, they reflected on the events, “We were ready to meet our Maker, or survive and tell others about Him. This event has strengthened our faith and our enjoyment of each other. We were quickly reminded how precious life is and how things can change so drastically in a moment.”
Not far away, another couple endured the same nightmare. Patty’s anxiety was stirring as she tried to figure out what to do. Her husband Pete assured her that their missile defense would take out the threat, and if not, there was no need to take cover, because it was most likely nuclear.
Patty tried to smile and said, “I hope you’re right, but if not, I will see you in Heaven.”
Saying those words out loud were sweetly sobering for her. The threat was daunting, but it was eclipsed by hope rooted in God’s certain promises. In a way similar to her fellow believers a few miles away, she had a “sweet inner calm as she thought of the true rest of heaven.”
Yet her peace quickly became mixed with grief as her mind raced to her beloved son who did not believe in Jesus. Her heart turned as she recalled his resistance to and dismissal of the God he was about to stand before.
“Would the Lord save him in the next 12 minutes?” she thought to her self. The thought of losing him for eternity saddened her and provoked fear. As the threat passed, she was not left unmoved. A fresh burden for urgent prayer and bold witnessing was birthed in her.
As she gathered the next day with the saints at Kailua Baptist, her pastor reminded the flock that they were all still alive by God’s grace. The moment they were resting in was nothing but divine mercy. He pointed them to a passage that Patty said, “will forever be the explanation of why I had no fear for own soul that day.”
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My name.” Psalm 91:14
God holds His people fast as they cling to His Son Jesus through faith. He is our only refuge in the day of trouble.
I’ll leave you with two simple reminders.
- Sobriety about eternity is a friend of your soul.
A day is coming when Jesus will return. Some assume this is as much of a false alarm as the one Hawaii recently experienced. But those who love the Lord know it is not.
Would you consider replacing your evening television time with a reading of Revelation or Jesus’ words in Matthew 24-25? Read and plead with God to give you sobriety about eternity. This is not a drill.
- Sobriety about eternity is motivation for the souls of unbelievers.
There is no time to waste. Our moments are fleeting and their number is uncertain. Pray for God to open doors to speak of Jesus, and ask Him to give you courage to speak. Today could be the Day the Lord returns. This is not a drill.
 Matthew 12:36; Revelation 20:11-15
 Ezekiel 33:1-11; 2 Corinthians 5:11-21