Ever since I was a child, preachers have tried to use the “sudden happenings” of God to motivate people. I can’t remember how many times I heard statements such as, “When you leave this place today, who knows if you will face eternity.” This was especially impactful if we heard recent news of someone dying from a heart attack or even a car accident. Often, we were exhorted to get ready or be prepared for whatever could happen. In the book of Malachi 3:1, the prophet declares:
“Suddenly” is a scary word! Nobody likes surprises; we like to be prepared for and aware of what is going to happen. Since my wife, Bonnie, and I were married, I have loved to scare her. She is the type of person who adds the special effects at movies. She will scream at every right moment (and sometimes at the wrong ones too). After sitting on the edge of her seat, it doesn’t take much to set her off. I have particularly loved standing on the opposite side of doors she opens, knowing she doesn’t expect someone on the other side. A scream inevitably follows. This is especially true at night, because something about the darkness puts us on edge. What heightens our fear in the dark? The lack of full awareness of what is actually around us. This can make us even jump at something that isn’t a threat at all, like a nice husband on the other side of the door! Although there is something powerfully true about being prepared for sudden events, we should not prepare for sudden events with sudden preparations. The verse I referenced above is prefaced by the statement, “Behold I will send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me.”
The Time of Preparation
We should understand that the way to deal with emergency situations is not through emergency preparations. God always prepares the way. If something major is going to happen in God, some kind of preparation is also happening. A big part of God’s plan is His use of messengers who prepare the way before Him. This is best pictured with a scene of a King or other kind of royalty coming down the street or into the city with trumpets blaring the announcement in front of them. I have shared in my last two blogs about being simple. God does not want us simple—He wants us to be wise! Jesus taught us how to be wise in the parable of the virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). The wise virgins had a long-range preparation for an event they knew was to come, so they prepared with oil. The foolish virgins did not take oil in their vessels, so when the heard the cry, “The bridegroom is coming, go out to meet him,” they were ill prepared. They thought they could suddenly prepare for the sudden event and they missed out on God. The wise virgins understood that preparation is something that requires time and planning. We must be careful in this time when everybody wants to sound alarms of danger that our God wants us to be well prepared. We don’t have to be in the dark, sitting on the edge, worried and concerned about every bump in the night hour. We can be prepared, ready and excited, knowing God will certainly have something good for those who are truly ready!