Much of our lives are spent preparing. We really spend more time preparing than doing what we prepare for. Consider time spend preparing for a presentation, game, holiday, etc. as compared to the time spent doing each.
Expanding this idea, consider how time spent preparing our children to be adults (i.e., raising them) goes by so fast and the time spent preparing to be empty nesters arrives all to quickly. We may then find ourselves unprepared for that next season of life. Related to this season is the physical state we might find ourselves in because we failed to prepare ourselves for aging while we were preparing our kids to be on their own.
Let’s consider preparation in another area, religion. Lent and Advent are seasons on the church calendar sacred to Catholics and Eastern Orthodox and celebrated or observed by may Protestant denominations. Lent is essentially preparation for Easter (i.e., remembering Christ’s death and resurrection) and Advent for Christmas (i.e., remembering Christ’s birth). Advent focuses on hope while Lent focuses on repentance.
In the week before Easter, Passover is celebrated or at least observed or recognized in some way by many Christians. In Jesus’ day, Passover required traveling to the temple in Jerusalem. Most Jews arrived many days before the Passover to give themselves enough time to prepare for it properly.
“The purification process is vital to celebrating Passover. It creates a physical and emotional state of mind that prepares a worshipper to embrace God’s holiness – thus the need to arrive in Jerusalem almost a week before the holy day.” (Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly)
Preparation serves to get us ready for a situation or season. It puts us the state – emotionally and/or physically – to embrace that which we are preparing for. Preparing makes whatever is its focus be the best it can be or allows us to be our best during it. At least, that’s the goal.
Some people enjoy preparation. Others do not. Some push through the discomfort and do it anyway. Others do not and instead procrastinate.
Staying consistent with preparation is difficult. Everyone falters and finds themselves unprepared at some point. All we can do, then, is learn from our mistakes and move forward. Someday, though, we’ll no longer need to prepare.
One day, all our preparation will end. When Jesus speaks about the future in Matthew 24, he essentially talks about the culmination of all our preparation as Christians. He tells us:
- Don’t panic (v6) when the world seems to be in chaos, Christians are increasingly persecuted, and many are even growing cold in their love for the Lord.
- Stand firm (v13) by enduring no matter what is happening around you.
- Pay attention (v15) to what God’s word says and disregard what doesn’t line up with it.
- Keep watch (v42) for Christ’s return.
- Be prepared (45-47) and always ready since he’ll come again when he’s least expected.
How do we do all of this? How can we get to a place where we are prepared? Jesus’ message here can be summed up in two directives:
- Know what the Bible says.
- Stay faithful and obedient.
We’re still to prepare for the future by studying the Bible and doing what it says. At the same time, we want to be as ready as we can with what we know on any given day.
The preparation we do to ready ourselves for Jesus’ second coming may seem long. Yet, we know that our time spent preparing pales in comparison to eternity.
“For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]!” (2 Corinthians 4:17, AMP)