The days immediately leading up to a missions trip are always hectic days. Supplies to purchase, bins to pack, and teaching notes to review for the last time. Do we have enough? Can we get everything in our bins and be under the weight limit? So much to do, so little time to do it. It’s always a busy time but I admit that I love it.
In eleven days my wife and I will be leaving for Haiti to teach a week-long Couples Seminar to sixty pastors and their wives. At the end of the week she’ll be returning home and I’ll stay for eight nights of evangelistic meetings. We do some variation of this every March and it’s one of the highlights of my year. It’s the preparation that is exhausting, the ministry refreshes my soul. I’ve never kept track of how many hours go into preparation but it’s a lot.
That caused me to begin thinking about the concept of preparation. So much of our lives are spent simply preparing for something yet to come. We prepare to go to work every morning; we prepare meals; we prepare to meet with clients; we prepare for tests at school; we prepare for vacations; we prepare for meetings; we prepare to go out to dinner; we prepare for shopping trips; we prepare to play basketball games; we prepare to watch basketball games; we prepare to go to the doctors, the dentist or the hairdressers. Just think about how much of your life is spent preparing to do something else. For most people it’s considerable.
But how much time do we spend as Christians preparing for the biggest event of our lives? How much time do we spend preparing to meet God? I’m not talking only about salvation – that’s just the first step in the preparation process. There is so much more.
Just before His ascension Jesus told the disciples that He was going back to the Father. Borrowing from the language of the Jewish wedding He said, I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2). After a young Jewish man and girl were promised (betrothal – a legal step in the marriage process) to each other, he would go back home and spend up to a year preparing a place for the two of them to live in his father’s house. During that same time, the bride would be busy preparing herself because she never knew the day or the hour when her husband would come to take her to their new home. However long it took, she wasn’t idle. It was a time of preparation for her new life – emotionally, materially, spiritually and relationally.
The New Testament often uses the same marital language to show the relationship of Christ to His Church. As the church we are the bride of Christ. Like the Jewish husband, Jesus is preparing a place for us. Just like the Jewish bride we don’t know when Jesus will come to take us to the Father’s house. It could be anytime.
As His Bride we’re to be busy preparing for His coming. But too often we are so busy with “life” that we don’t have time to get ready for the biggest day of our lives.
If you knew that in eleven days you would stand before God, how would you prepare? Would you pray more? Read your Bible more? Share the gospel with more people? Spend more time confessing sin? Love someone more? Help someone more? Be kinder? How would you prepare if you knew that you were soon to leave?
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Matthew 25:13
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