The Enigmatic Case of the Wandering Smoke Alarm


Hands down! A “Chirp-Chirp” is infinitely better than “Fire Fire!” but both are irritating in their own way.

“Now where did I put that durn smoke alarm this time?”

The intruder was most uninvited and unwelcome. My ordinary mundane blessed silence of predawn beauty was shattered this very morning with the incessant and equally annoying “chirp chirp” agonal cries of a dying smoke alarm battery that demanded my undivided attention. It soon began to rival fingers screeching over a chalkboard with an echo of reverberation that seemed eerily mobile too. It was all over and random in its stealthy snobbery. What the heck? It became so elusive that I actually began to have visions of the movie #TotalRecall and entertained possibilities of a gigantic rat of sufficient size to have swallowed the whole annoying thing; said rat now loose and at large as he scurried all about the house. I verified my sidearm at the ready. Affirmative

After an initial failed reconnaissance mission to acquire the target, I wisely chose to brew my coffee to settle my quickly fraying nerves. As the percolator perked in delightful joy I sulked in ongoing aggravation. I began anew my fruitless search for the culprit alarm as I actually ran reconnaissance into four rooms and two hallways only to stand the mandatory 60 or so seconds as I impatiently waited for the familiar but elusive beeps. Somewhere else! (I subconsciously pondered 4-lettered words.) This “Somewhere” began to giveaway to other dormant fears… maybe it, or God forbid, maybe I, am trapped in a sort of Stephen King novel experience of alternate universes. Where’s the door?!?!

The vision of the monster rat gnawed away again but eventually broke through to another troubling speculation that perhaps a disgruntled worker from Comcast or maybe the AC company had maliciously planted a failing smoke alarm somewhere in my 3500 foot attic and underneath 2 feet of fiberglass insulation some months back as he was duty-bound to crawl in my attic. That didn’t make sense though so I considered perhaps the previous owner had legitimately jerry-rigged a smoke alarm overhead, whose time had now come. This too seem too bizarre. It is so challenging to remain sanctified in times such as these, when fears and imaginations converge in something akin to the Bermuda Triangle, all at 3 a.m. in the morning. In betwixt my ears. 

The coffee brewed and sighed its completion so I poured a cup and filled my extra thermos, and scurried outta here to my secret back porch Bethel in search of P&Q. Gnarly disruptions to my morning quiet… Huh! I think not! I discovered once again silence is golden especially when reinforced with a closed door as insurance. The wife is always at locating such things in an effortless fashion anyway. “Let the woman You gave me find it, Lord.” Right. 

My Quiet Time silence was soon invaded by the open door to Bethel as the incessant chirps of Lucifer himself seemed to follow Amy and alas, they found me once again. Conversation and morning kiss complete, we then exchange frustrations of our failure to locate the chirping source. I am especially alarmed as perhaps for only the 2nd time in our recorded marital bliss, the wife has failed to find and fix the problem; most often said problems are of my own devices and design. Nevertheless disregarding the current failure that is still an arguably impressive record. We discussed contingency plans and were ultimately unpersuaded by any options other than eventually the battery will die of old age, so therein our hope lay. Yeah!

Back to reading and prayer. But alas, silence and joy must always eventually end, so I trudge downward off my personal “Mount of Transfiguration” and find myself confronted with chirps again now beginning the drone into patterns that might imitate demonic screeches of a dying demon and not a smoke alert. “Lord we tried to cast out the batteries but we couldn’t find them. Need a little help here, Lord!” Back onto chairs and step ladders I go, and again both wife and I are transfixed by the mobile nature of the chirps that come from nowhere but everywhere all at once. If the wife with her bat-like ears stands baffled as to the location, I knew I was in big trouble with my AARP qualified ears that had for years been crying out for Miracle Ear intervention. I refuse. What’s that you say?

We have a house guest at present and I even begin to wonder if this whole thing is some sort of an obnoxious February 1st February Fool Day joke that they celebrate in Georgia or something. That really did not add up either since she too likely would have disturbed by the omnipresent sound throughout the night. Then the wife said in response to my trial balloon attic theory, it sounds like it may be in here and on the new book shelves, but I am the one who arranged books and artifacts on them, so I know there is no smoke alarm there. 


Somewhere upon my mind’s back burner I vaguely recall an extra alarm with no hanger for it for walk installation. As a surgeon calling for scalpel I called for the stool. Rising up, up and away, and guess what? There hidden away on the top shelf behind a silent figurine Rabbit who seemed to smiled stupidly in provocation lay the culprit. Double OOPS!

So I say in a brilliant recovery attempt, “Well it’s in a good spot, up high and out of sight and all.” Wife was both unconvinced and irritated. I felt somewhat like David as Nathan pointed a finger in his face as he simply stated, “You’re the man!” After a welcomed change of the battery the CO-Smoke alarm combo gave one last, loud, long satisfied chirp before returning to its baseline silence we had searched for all this early morning.  

The one lost sheep has been found and all heaven rejoices more over it than over the ninety and nine who need no rescue. 

My Personal Tent of Meeting

“And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.”

Psalm 27:6
Notice this exultation in the Lord is not by deliverance FROM enemies but by worship of God in the MIDST of enemies ALL around. How so? Prominently so… lifted up above… It’s all about a mindset set above, where Christ is. It’s about an act of worship wherever we are, indifferent to circumstance. All things we encounter today are calculated by a sovereign God to stimulate a faith-walk of worship, not sinful frustration, reactiveness nor retaliation. (How we doing on that? Hmmm?) Either our Heavenly Father works all things after the counsel of His will or He doesn’t. I choose to believe a God who rules in the midst of the praises of His people. I bow low in His presence. And He lifts me up in adversity. He moves me to worship the beauty of His holiness. He completes my lack by His abundant sufficiency. 
Perceived hinderances and adversaries are in reality to be viewed and experienced as gigantic springboards to propel one heavenward as we dive into the ocean of His joy-filled presence. (“To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry…”)
It’s really a story of keeping your “tent of meeting handy”…

The thing about tents is their portability. They pack and store well, so when I arrive on location today, (work or school or home with kids, etc…), the first objective is to unpack and secure the tent, (HIS TENT), to enter in and begin to sing praises and offer sacrifices with shouts of joy to God as the enemies of the Lord congregate about. Isn’t that neat? Wherever… Whenever… In all places we hang out today we are to worship the King of glory in the midst of the conflict as we shout with joy, joy, joy… down in my heart this day! He has designed you and He orders your particular circumstances to aid you to construct an altar of worship as you go through life fulfilling your duty by the Light and Salvation of His countenance. I think of Abraham as he trudged throughout the land, not having a clue but only a promise, yet he seemed quick to construct multiple altars of worship as he sojourned. Don’t all people of faith? So it doesn’t really matter how many Philistines or Canaanites surround you or me today: Worship God! He seeks you to be a worshiper in spirit and truth. All is well when we worship God.

I encourage you to hang out with the Shepherd-King David today, especially in Psalm 27. Who knows but that light and salvation may sweep you away into another place. To a holy place. To a place of joy and praise. That is what I seek upon the eve of the eve of the #NewYear #2016.


“Let me hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning;
For I trust in Thee;Teach me the way in which I should walk, For I trust in Thee.

Psalm 143

We are the better to prepare for the day than to simply resort to repentance of the day after the fact of ill-prepared failure. Accuse me of legalism if you will but why should a new creature in Christ not early hunger and thirst after His presence in preparation for the struggles against our three-fold enemy who has risen to rush toward us with designs to crush us in mortal, spiritual combat?

Spiritual disciplines affirmed by the Carpenter of Nazareth at an introductory minimum would require “rising early, departing to a lonely place and praying there.” (Mark 1:35)

The old legalist that I am… this is my only hope. God is faithful to covenant love; God is faithful to normative principles. The Father sees in secret and subsequently rewards openly those who know their God in secret. They shall do exploits in His name.

The quality of gathering with the community of believers is limited by the preparation and condition of the heart. “We cannot give that which we do not first possess.” (Lewis) The Church alone can’t fix what one hides as perverted or broken by secret sin. If the fire of love for Jesus does not burn within the inner recesses of the breast then pretense will be the garment worn in public. The perversion of doctrine and lack of power in preaching in the contemporary pulpit can often be traced back to a mere academic pursuit that sacrifices devotional purity and worship of the King in secret. “The things my hands have handled and my eyes have seen… these things I make known to you…”

And that is the glory and joy of seeing His face even in midst of sorrow and struggle which we all know and that without honest exception. He is the Friend and Savior of sinners and I am glad. Yet He does not endorse that which is not changed and requires us to die daily to His glory. 

“When all around my soul gives way,

He then is all my hope and stay.”