We prepare for all sorts of things at different times in our lives. And what we prepare for reveals what we consider to be important. We prepare to play football games, to sit exams, and to host parties. We prepare for emergencies, and we prepare for the arrival of new babies,
Preparation increases the chance that we will have a wonderful experience.
The mere fact that we are capable of preparation reveals extraordinary gifts unique to human beings. Our ability to look into the future and imagine various situations and outcomes is a fantastic expression of human intelligence.
And what we prepare for, and how we prepare for different things, reveals our priorities. How we prepare announces loud and clear to everyone what we think matters most. And when our values are distorted, we waste our time, effort, and resources preparing in the wrong ways for the wrong things.
We see an example of this on full display in today’s culture around wedding planning. Should a wedding be a fabulous celebration? Absolutely. Is the wedding more important than the marriage? Absolutely not. If couples spent as much time and intentionality preparing for marriage as they do preparing for the wedding would people have better marriages? I believe they would. Does it make sense to spend more money on the wedding than the couple will save in their first 10 years of marriage? I suspect not.
This single event provides a thousand windows into what we value as a society, and how those values influence, and indeed direct, what we prepare for and how.
Today’s difficult teaching is about preparation.
“Stay alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning.”
It is from Mark’s Gospel, chapter 13, verse 35.
There are so many times in life when we find ourselves unprepared. Though it is worth noting that in most cases, it isn’t because we were incapable of being prepared, but rather than we had chosen to focus on other things, or that our focus on other things prevented us from seeing the need to prepare.
First aid kits are a form of preparation. Survivalists have “go-bags” ready in the event of a disaster. I remember each time Meggie was pregnant, about a month before the baby was due, she would pack everything she needed to go to the hospital for the baby’s arrival. When you are going on a trip, you consider where you are going and what you will need.
In today’s difficult teaching, Jesus is simply saying, you are going on a trip, you don’t know when you will be making this trip, consider where you are going and what you will need for a successful journey. What makes it difficult? It is the not knowing. This requires a state of constant vigilance. Stay alert. Be prepared. Don’t let the trivialities of life distract you from reality and importance of eternity. Don’t trade a moment of pleasure for an eternity of happiness.
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