Wow, what a snowstorm! I think Tara and I are starting to get a feel for what Michigan winters are all about. They say this is unusual, though, so perhaps it’s not quite like this every year. In any case, I find it fascinating how the human instinct to survive kicks in just before major storms like this. People stock up on food, water, and other supplies; they buy candles and flashlights in case the power goes out; they do all sorts of things to get ready.
In some ways, I think that kind of preparation is a little silly. Unless the blizzard keeps you snowbound for a full week or two, you probably have enough food in your home to make it until the roads are cleared in a few days. Going without electricity can be a more serious issue, though, especially when that directly affects the heating system of your home. But when our TV stations warn us of the coming “Snowpocalypse” or “Winter Wallop,” we shouldn’t be surprised when people prepare for the end of the world.
The theme of preparation forms part of Jesus’s teachings regarding life in the kingdom of God. Take a few minutes to read Matthew 25:1-13, where Jesus compares the kingdom to a surprise wedding party, for which only half of the guests were adequately prepared. Five of the virgins in this story were wise, because they carried enough oil to keep their lamps burning through the night. The other five, however, were foolish – and were shocked to find the party beginning in the middle of the night, when their own lamps were useless due to lack of oil. What a terrible thing, to be left out in the dark because of a lack of preparation!
As silly as it seems to stock up on food just before a snowstorm, this instinct carries a kernel of truth expressed by Jesus’s parable. We, like the earliest Christians, do not know what the future holds – whether it is the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (to which Jesus might have been referring), an impending blizzard, or the return of Christ at the end of the age. If we are so interested in preparing to endure a few days’ worth of snow, why are we so disinterested in preparing ourselves and each other for Christ’s return and the eternal life that will follow for those who believe in him?
Even this week’s supply of food will run out eventually, and we’ll have to go back to the store again. The same holds true for your walk with the Lord: you must be constantly fed in order to survive, in order to be prepared for what is to come. Brothers and sisters, do not relax in your faith – there is much we must do to get ready for the Lord’s return!
On a similar note, our work of preparation extends to those around us who have no idea that the spiritual snowstorm is coming soon. What kind of people do not make sure that their neighbors are prepared for what lies ahead? Who do you know that needs to “stock up” on the bread of life, who is Christ Jesus? How can we as a church prepare our community – in appropriate ways – for an eternity that follows this earthly life? Brothers and sisters, do not relax in your mission – there is much we must do to get ready for the Lord’s return!