Keep The Bucket Handy
A few days ago we had some severe thunderstorms roll through town while I was at the grocery store. As soon as the first rumble of thunder hit, several of the clerks went into action - grabbing buckets and mops and heading for the center of the store. When I got to the cash register, I asked the cashier if there was a problem. He explained that the roof had a leak, so they were simply getting ready to clean up any water that might come in. He finished by saying, “It doesn't always leak, but it's better to be prepared!” I agreed, and headed for the car, wishing I had been more prepared by bringing an umbrella with me.
The experience left me thinking about this idea of “being prepared”. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that “preparing ourselves” is what we spend a lot of our lives doing. For example: when we’re in school, we prepare for the tests and assignments so that we’ll pass and move on to the next grade, all in the hopes of one day getting a job. Then once we graduate and get a job, we keep up with changes in our work so that we can be prepared for a promotion. If we're involved in athletics, we train so that we can be prepared for the game or the competition. And if we're involved in the arts, we practice so that we can be prepared for the performance.
But it goes beyond just our work and activities - we also prepare for situations in our lives. We prepare for emergencies, we prepare for conversations, we prepare for vacations, we prepare for holidays, and each and every morning we prepare for the day by brushing our teeth and combing our hair. That list could continue on, but hopefully we can see the pattern: a big part of our lives is dedicated to preparing.
Daily preparation is necessary in our physical lives, but it's even more important in our spiritual lives. Each day when we get up and head out we have the opportunity to live for God, or to live for ourselves. The reality is that much of how we choose to live will come out of our level of preparation for whatever comes up. For example, if I get up and head out in the day, not really focused on God or centered on Him, then when I run into a difficult situation I can easily slip into anger or frustration. It's not that I wake up intending to lose my patience, it's just that when the challenging situations come up, I'm not going to be prepared - and so in my “surprise”, I'm more likely to choose poorly. In other words, I'm less likely to live how God calls me to live.
And that type of scenario can play itself out over and over throughout each of our days, as each day brings with it challenges and experiences that we can't anticipate when we roll out of bed in the morning. So taking the time to spiritually prepare ourselves for the day is critical. 2 Peter 3:14 puts it like this: “And so, dear friends, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight.” If we don't “make every effort” to be prepared spiritually for the day, we will be taken by surprise by the situations which keep arising. And more often then not, we will make the wrong choice on how to respond in those situations.
The other truth about being prepared spiritually is that it will also affect those around us. Whether we want to admit it or not, how we handle each day is going to show the people around us what it means to live for God – and conversely, if we're caught unprepared, it's going to give people the wrong idea of what it means to be a Christian. Also, when we're prepared spiritually, we'll be able to answer any questions that come up regarding the God we serve. And again, the Apostle Peter makes this point in 1 Peter 3:15, when he writes: “And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” Being prepared not only gives us the correct answers, it gives us the confidence to speak those answers when the questions come up.
So no matter how we look at it, the reality is that we need to be spiritually prepared for our day - both for our own spiritual health, and for the spiritual health of those around us. So how do we get there? How do we spiritually prepare ourselves for the day? Well, it's actually pretty simple - we spend time with God. We let His Spirit equip us for the day. Whether it's through spending time reading His Word, taking time to with Him in prayer, or spending time worshiping Him, the key to being prepared is to spend time with God - centering our hearts and minds on Him before we head out to take on the day.
So today, let's ask God to prepare us for His work. Let's ask Him to give us the desire to set aside time for Him every day - starting today. And then let's commit to using that time to get ourselves prepared so that we can represent Him well no matter what the day holds.