[forthright] Preparedness

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From: Forthright Magazine <ba@...>
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 2004 12:02:39 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: Field Notes

By Michael E. Brooks

"Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man
is coming at an hour when you do not expect him"
(Matthew 24:44).

As I write these words I am less than four days
from departing for Bangladesh. I have been home a
little more than three months since my last trip
and will be gone for over three months this time.
I have known since arriving in March approximately
when my next departure would be, and have had
tickets purchased for several weeks. I have spent
much of my time these months preparing lessons to
teach during the fall semester in Bangladesh and
for the campaign in Nepal.

Now ask me, "Are you ready to go? You have your
bags all packed and your lessons all prepared,
right?" You know the answer to that. I am not even
close to ready. I have shopping to do, suitcases
to pack, people to see, and yes, more lessons to
prepare. I expect to be ready before next Tuesday,
but I am not yet and it will take extra effort to
accomplish total preparation.

The fact is, preparation is difficult. We are
busy, frequently interrupted by unexpected
circumstances, and prone (many of us anyway) to
putting things off. Departure dates and deadlines
approach with certainty and awesome speed, and we
find it very difficult to meet them.

If preparation for a known, fixed and important
deadline such as a departure date for a long
mission trip is difficult, how much harder is it
to be constantly prepared for an event whose
timing is unknown? That event, of course, is the
coming of the Son of Man, or as we more frequently
refer to it, the Second Coming of Jesus.

We do not know when he is coming, but we know for
certain that he is coming.

"And as it is appointed for men to die once, but
after this the judgment, so Christ was offered
once to bear the sins of many. To those who
eagerly wait for him he will appear a second time,
apart from sin, for salvation" (Hebrews 9:27,28).

"For the Lord himself will descend from heaven
with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and
with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ
will rise first" (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

"Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay
with tribulation those who trouble you, and to
give you who are troubled rest with us when the
Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty
angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those
who do not know God, and on those who do not obey
the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2
Thessalonians 1:6-8).

As we have certainty about the second coming of
Jesus, so we have certainty about the importance
of being constantly prepared for his coming.
Peter, describing the great day of the Lord, asks,
"What manner of persons ought you to be in holy
conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening
the coming of the day of God?" (2 Peter 3:12). His
answer is, "Therefore, beloved, looking forward to
these things, be diligent to be found by him in
peace, without spot and blameless" (2 Peter 3:14).
Jesus often commanded us to watch and be ready,
for his coming would be unexpected and surprising
(Matthew 24:42,44).

Preparation for Jesus' return is not a matter of
packing suitcases, nor of preparing lessons to
teach. It does not involve passports, visas, or
taking shots and buying medicine. Rather it is
simply the process and practice of sanctification
and faithfulness. To be ready for Jesus is to be
found in a forgiven state, reconciled to God
through the blood of his Son. It is further to be
found in service to God. Paul describes it as

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast,
immovable, always abounding in the work of the
Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in
the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

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