Preparing - but for what?

Yesterday we walked past a recently closed diner. In the window was a sign with these words: “Prepare to meet thy God.” Hmmm. Was the food really that bad?

Then I talked with my friend Stuart, living in the eye of an epic hurricane in Houston. I asked him how he was preparing for the storm.

We did a lot of things to prepare for our move. The list seemed endless, and we just had to work our way through it. I’m glad we did, because now we are reaping the benefits of our preparation.

Sometimes I think we spend a lot of time preparing for small things, while spending virtually no effort getting ready for the big things. Maybe we don’t realize the train that is coming down the track at us, or maybe we don’t want to know about it. And admit it. How many times have you said: “That was the one thing I forgot to do.” I’ve said it too often myself!

The significant question for a Christian is how much time do we spend preparing for what God requires of us? Do you invest more time planning your next holiday than preparing for what God wants to do in your life?

Part of the preparation is asking God what his plans are. Then wait as long as it takes for God to respond, so you know you are acting out of obedience to his will. Or maybe you just go ahead anyway on the basis of your own good ideas? I’ve had more than a few good ideas that turned out to be not so brilliant after all, and I have learned to wait on God and see what his ideas are instead.

We also prepare by making changes in our lives. Elaine and I have had to make enormous changes to accommodate what we feel God is calling us to. Preparation is costly, but it’s worth it.

And preparation can be very tedious. Before you redecorate a room, you have to do all sorts of preparation. Fill the holes, fix the surface, remove the wallpaper (horrible job!), put masking tape down, and so on. It’s never really until you have the roller in hand that you feel you’ve made any progress, and yet by then most of the work has already been done.

That tells me preparation is often the largest part of any task. Why do we treat our life in Christ any differently? We want the end result, but we don’t want to spend the time preparing. It’s seems so much work with so little visible result.

What if God called you to a lifetime of preparation for something you’d never see? God wouldn’t do that, would he? Try telling that to Moses or John the Baptist.

I don’t think we’ll ever understand the importance of spiritual preparation until we grasp one massive truth. This whole life is only a preparation for eternity.

This isn’t the real event, it’s the opener. But unless you do the preparation, you’ll never make it through to the real thing.

This should give us perspective and motivation in the basic steps of preparation we need to take day by day.

It may also change the whole way we look at the investing of our time and resources. It may show us how many of our actions are motivated by the prospect of an immediate payoff, and how few are taken with the long term in view.

My spiritual father and great friend Duane Harder made this statement: “God may take 50 or 60 years of one’s life to prepare a person for the last 10.” How opposite that is to our thinking! But consider Jesus. He prepared 27 years to live the last three. Aren’t you glad he did?

Prepare the way. In one sense, John the Baptist’s call is still ours. No longer to prepare the way for his coming, but for his return.

Take time to prepare for eternity. It will be the best earthly time investment you’ll ever make.