I remember when Monica and I had just moved to Smithville, Ontario, to spend a year at Smithville CRC and we were still getting familiar with the lay of the land. We were taking Regional Road 14 north to Grimsby when we passed a large billboard:
‘PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD!’
I let up on the gas and touched the breaks, wondering, What on earth is so dangerous up ahead that someone thought to warn motorists that careless driving could easily lead to their deaths?! As far as I could tell, all the roads were pretty flat and straight, except where they went up and down the escarpment (which some locals refer to as a mountain, but it’s more like a really long cliff).
Okay, I’m joking a little (about hitting the brakes, not the escarpment!). I didn’t really think the intention of the sign maker was to warn people of a specific deadly hazard on that particular road between Smithville and Grimsby. But he or she was effective at making me pause for a moment to think of my eternal destiny. After passing it for the umpteenth time, I grew weary of its judgemental look and tone: In my opinion, the goal almost seemed to be to scare people into religion, rather than draw or invite or welcome or enfold people into the faith family.
But yet, the sign maker was right to draw motorists’ attention to the fact that there is more to life than only the here and now. And by doing it in a startling way – at least the first time or two you drive by the sign – the sign maker is taking a cue from the Old Testament prophet Amos.