I currently live about three blocks from the campus of the University of Northern Iowa. It’s pretty great. I’m close to everything to which I could ever want to be close, and Cedar Falls in general is a nice, little town. Demographically it’s pretty boring. Just a bunch of middle-aged, middle-class, white people. A lot of them work in nearby Waterloo, but it’s “too dangerous” to live there, so they live in (more expensive) Cedar Falls. Thus, they tend to think they’re better than anyone and everyone, because they don’t have to live in Waterloo. Let me tell you, people-watching has never been better: to see the terror in some Cedar Falls soccer mom’s eyes while she is forced to have an interaction in Waterloo with a minimum-wage employee, and then watch her prance away to her SUV that is double-parked in two handicap parking spots is delightfully entertaining.
… One-hundred percent true story, by the way.
I’m actually moving to a new apartment in Waterloo in about a month, and I absolutely cannot wait. It is exactly two miles from where I work, twenty yards from one of the paved bike trails that is part of the incredibly extensive trail system within Cedar Falls and Waterloo, and – just like where I am now – close to everything to which I could ever want to be close. Oh, and dogs are allowed. SCORE. It’s in a quiet area of Waterloo – one of the “safe” areas. Sigh. I just feel so silly saying that. Every town has its area[s] that you might want to avoid for whatever reason. It’s just how it is. Is Waterloo’s area perhaps a bit larger than that of other towns? Maybe. Couldn’t really tell you. But is it truly fair to say that the entirety of Waterloo is dangerous? No. Yet I hear it over and over and over again.
“Don’t go there!”
“Don’t live in Waterloo! You’ll be sorry!”
“No matter where you go in that whole stinking town, it’s bad!”
I take these so-called warnings incredibly lightly. The people who are saying these things to me are one-town citizens. They were born in Cedar Falls, they were raised in Cedar Falls, and they will die in Cedar Falls. They are not open-minded. They are judgmental. They are bigoted. And I have no respect for them. This move is good for me, and I will not be swayed by idiotic (and usually racist) remarks.
I really love this time of year. Most of the students have gone away for the summer by now, allowing for more peace and quiet to settle through the area in which my current apartment is situated. Don’t get me wrong, living in a college town can be fun. It provides for an energetic atmosphere almost everywhere you go, which I technically like. But man alive, some of these kids are annoying as all get out. I’m an old lady at twenty-six years of age, and I just can’t handle their racket! I live at the bottom of “The Hill” and I have a love/hate relationship with this fact. The Hill is constantly evolving. Businesses up and down the hill include bars, multiple pizza joints and other restaurants, a [pretty hipster] coffee shop, a Copyworks, a laundromat, a hair/tanning salon, a clothing boutique, a total-hole-in-the-wall liquor store, a comic book store, and – coming soon – a shop that sells and delivers cookies until three in the morning, which is replacing the site of a taxi service business. Oh, and in the summer and fall months, a small parking lot near the bottom of The Hill plays host to a small farmers market on Thursdays. Goodness gracious.
Needless to say, The Hill gets some crazy action basically all year, by the general and student populations alike. Those aforementioned soccer moms and super seniors are constantly flying down The Hill, right in front of my apartment building. And guess what? So are the Cedar Falls police cruisers. BAM, gotcha! Lights flashing, sirens blaring, engines roaring. I love the sight and sound of a police car following after some idiotic driver. Absolutely beautiful. I did say that I like peace and quiet. And I do. Yet when it comes to hearing sirens, I actually kind of like the noise. Weird and contradictory, I know. But here’s the thing: I associate sirens with urgency and proclamation.
“Here it comes!”
This is a good thing.
When I was being shown the Waterloo apartment by a property manager, I asked about the area. Any fire departments nearby? High levels of activity that call for police officers to patrol the area? In short, he said that I should be able to sleep at night undisturbed – unlike here in Cedar Falls. That’s basically anybody’s dream come true, right? But man, I really do like my sirens of The Hill. Even since I began typing this, I have heard two – make that three – police cars drive by.
They make me stop. They make me think. They make me pray.
I think everybody would be better off in their spiritual lives by focusing on the idea of urgency. I’m sure you’ve heard it before: people are dying and going to hell every day! … Whether they are truly going to “hell” is not the point here. The point is, people are dying and we aren’t loving them. We aren’t living generously towards others. We aren’t sharing the Gospel. We aren’t doing life with people. Rather, we turn inwards and focus on our own lives. We settle into routines. We become comfortable. We become stagnant. And we live each day without purpose.
We should be living with our eyes truly open.
For a Way has been made.
“Something is coming!”
And He is coming once more.
Why wouldn’t we want to share this with others?
We may not know when it will happen, but we have been told that it will happen. Sound the alarm. It may take time to truly resonate and be heard by all, but if it is not sounded in the first place… well, what’s the point of even having a working alarm?
Be that alarm, sounding out to those who need to be woken.
Be the bell, pealing clear and strong to all.
Be the light, shining on the hill for all to see.
God is constantly providing me with opportunities to be used by Him.
Living with a sense of urgency in order to see those opportunities more easily does not seem to be asking too much of myself.
‘ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”