The Grilled Cheese Warning

The Grilled Cheese Warning

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The heat from the sauté pan cooked the first side of the grilled cheese sandwich.  In the next ten minutes, I needed to leave to pick up my grandson from pre-school. I’d feed the grilled cheese to his two-year-old brother piece-by-piece during our drive.

A few distractions later, I smelled the beginning of a burnt grilled cheese sandwich. After flipping it and seeing the sandwich was still edible, a chime sounded in my daughter’s house. I’d never heard this chime before. Neither had my husband. We looked at each other as a voice spoke to us from the ceiling.

“Attention. Smoke has been detected in the kitchen area. A smoke alarm will soon begin. It produces a loud sound. Smoke has been detected in the kitchen area.”

Oh no! I turned down the burner. My husband grabbed a towel to wave at the smoke detector in the kitchen ceiling. In their last home, we waved a towel at the sensitive smoke detector to keep it from going off. We were used to the drill.

“Open the window!” my husband said. My phone dinged with a text message. My son-in-law was concerned.

“Everything okay? I see a smoke alarm went off.”

Oh criminy! I’m in a panic the alarm will sound.  I send a quick text to reassure my son-in-law everything is alright at home. Of course, he needs to know. And now he knows I’m not cooking very well. After texting him, I opened another door while my husband waved a towel. Finally, the smoke alarm light turned off.

“The coast is clear,” my husband sighed.

My phone rang. Our daughter, working out-of-state for the week, called. Geesh, now she will know I burned the grilled cheese, too.

“I’m just checking that everything is alright, Mom. I got a smoke detection notice.” She laughed nervously. She knows I’m a good cook. She also knows how children can distract you.

I felt mild irritation at the fact that I can’t make a simple error without the world knowing it. Immediately, I replaced that thinking with one of gratitude for the smoke alarm system my son-in-law installed to protect his family worked to protect me and my husband as well.

It’s disconcerting to know that someone is monitoring you. In a flash, I realized that God works much the same way. He keeps His attention on every one of us.  He often warns us through others.

Would we act any different, I wondered if we’d hear a heavenly chime from the ceiling when we started thinking harmful thoughts? It might sound something like this:

“Attention. Sinful thoughts have been detected. An alarm will soon begin. It produces a loud sound.”

My daughter instructed me to press the center of the smoke alarm to deactivate its alarm. We often push God away, or our conscience, when similar warnings sound in our heart.

The purpose of a smoke detector is to alert us to a condition early enough so we can prevent a house fire, or so we can escape a smoke-filled building. The purpose of God’s ever-present grace is to alert us to a dangerous heart condition early enough to prevent a sin or to strengthen us to resist saying something hurtful or doing something harmful to Him Who is all Love.

I might not like His occasional reminders, but I know they are for my protection and my eternal life.

Each of us can act like grace-filled smoke detectors for one another, “admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16), “exhort[ing] one another every day” (Hebrews 3:13) and “encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:25; 1 Thessalonians 5:11) to speak in the love that binds everything together in perfect harmony” (1 Colossians 3:14).

A silent smoke detector is useless when smoke is present. The same might be said of us when we choose not to speak up when something immoral takes place.

It’s never comfortable to draw someone’s attention to a wrongdoing or words misspoken. They might lash back. That never changes the fact that smoke has been detected, that a fire of sorts could erupt in a situation you may have observed.

“Is everything okay?” is an effective way to start. Using gentle words, giving the benefit of the doubt, and praying before and after are three steps I find helpful when a friendly warning needs to be sounded or heeded.


About Chris Manion

The parable of the talents drives Chris Manion to keep sharing what God offers her. God’s joy and compassion shows in her award-winning memoir, God’s Patient Pursuit of My Soul which she wrote while rearing two children and running a home-based multi-million dollar business. She speaks about trusting God and how to hear His voice. She's a musician, loves to laugh and eat M&Ms, and teaches children of all ages. Visit her website for more info.


  1. What a beautiful, fun, and precious reminder. “Atttention. Sinful thoughts have been detected.” I love it!

  2. Thank you for reading my post, Linda, and for your kind words. I just got one: “Attention. Procrasting actions have been detected!” Back to work!

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