“To make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”—Luke 1:17.
My main aim as a pastor has been to do all I can to partner with God to get my people from where they are to where they need to be. This means different things for different people, but the goal is always the same.
Many folks are stuck in the conundrum of being satisfied with the status quo. Just knowing Jesus, they might say, is enough.
“To do the same thing day after day and expect different results is the definition of insanity”, an unknown writer said. I agree.
God wants every day to be fresh and new, and for his people to seek to grow so much that each day looks different because we are different people. We must open that spiritual door wide so that it can fill a new part of us each day. When we get so full of the presence of God that we cannot help but overflow that love and grace to others, we may just be able to slow down on the getting ready and concentrate on reaching out.
I’m sure Emily Dickenson went to school to study English. To work at that gift of writing until she became a great poet, she had to have her homework assignments ready, and her mind awake to the possibilities that were out there.
“The soul,” she wrote, “should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.”
Seek God’s spirit and the wonders He can do in you. Do not be afraid of spiritual gifts, of miracles that God will do in and through you. Don’t be afraid of entering the world that is all around us and only opened by making ready our hearts for God to work in them.
“Ask,” Jesus says, “and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Do you think that is only about salvation? Yes, we must first know Jesus, but the discovery process has just begun. But after we come to faith, we are then beginning to be made ready to find Christ in family, relationships, work and in all the wonderful places we now can see differently, some that we would have never seen because we did not know where to look.
We might say, well I’m just learning. I’m doing research, so to speak. But all of that research on faith does no good until we begin to put what we have found into the framework of our lives.
“Several centuries ago, a Japanese emperor commissioned an artist to paint a bird. A number of months passed, then several years, and still no painting was brought to the palace. Finally, the emperor became so exasperated that he went to the artist’s home to demand an explanation. Instead of making excuses, the artist placed a blank canvas on the easel. In less than an hour, he completed a painting that was to become a brilliant masterpiece. When the emperor asked the reason for the delay, the artist showed him armloads of drawings of feathers, wings, heads and feet. Then he explained that all of this research and study had been necessary before he could complete the painting.” ~Our Daily Bread.
Looking busy is one thing, but actually doing something to serve our Lord and at the same time save the world is paramount to the growing Christian. There is a bumper sticker and T-shirt slogan that says, “Jesus is coming, look busy.”
Hopefully, this is not us. But if it is, we have a long way to go.
“Sometimes opportunities float right past your nose. Work hard, apply yourself, and be ready. When an opportunity comes you can grab it.” Actress Julie Andrews
There is another kind of making ready. All indicators are that Jesus is coming back at the end of time. The world is in a sad state of affairs. The lack of morality and civility in politics and in person is stunning. If Jesus is coming back when things are at their worst in the world, it might not be too long.
Early Christians who were contemporaries of Jesus were convinced that Jesus was returning very soon. They lived and wrote that way. Look at what Luke wrote.
“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when He comes and knocks, they can immediately open the door for Him.”
As Emily Dickenson wrote, “Let your soul stand ajar” so that doors will be opened, hearts will be blessed, people will be amazed.
The Christian life is all about making ready -- for new faith, for new experiences, for the end of time. We should never ever be caught just standing around.