PLANNING AND WAITING EXPECTANTLY

Have you ever planned something a long time in advance, like 18 months or more, and then it came time for the event, and you almost missed the fun and excitement of it in the worry and concern about details?

I admit that I am a hopeless planner.   When our daughter got married, I had lists to keep track of the lists — the overarching list was of things that had to be done and then the other individual lists of each of those things with detailed points to be checked off as the task was completed.

bride-down-the-aisle
Our daughter as she walks down the aisle with my husband … a glorious day indeed!

If a trip is being discussed, I will have a list, usually in Excel, where each day is outlined, things to do are identified along with address and phone number, hours of operation and sometimes even the cost of admission.  If a day has 3 or 4 events, I am a happy camper.  My lists are not set in concrete.  If something else looks interesting, we can and should do that, but in case we can’t find anything else, I have my lists.  I don’t want to have empty time … fill it up and then eat!

I can rationalize this mania for lists, of course, but the reality is that sometimes, in the preparation and scheduling, I miss the point.  When she got married, we were celebrating this creation of a new home and were asking God to bless it with His presence and guidance through the years to come.  When we are going on a vacation with our children and grandchildren, we want to forge memories, to tell stories of how God has been involved in our lives through the years, to pass the torch from generation to generation.  That’s what important, not what schedule we will have or whether the event goes along without a hitch.

When I get lost in the detail, I forget the big picture and sometimes I run the risk of missing it entirely.

This characteristic of mine makes me think of the Pharisees and other religious leaders in Jesus’ day.  They kept the rules; they taught the dos and don’ts; they were zealous for God.  But they missed Him when He came.  The Old Testament has numerous prophesies about the Messiah, and these teachers could read the verses from Isaiah and Psalms and probably quote them by heart, but they were so lost in the details of dogma that they missed the important One.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

king-size-bed
The manger that provided a place to sleep for our Savior was, on that day, a bed for the King.

Their preoccupation with the rules and details of what they expected resulted in them missing the Messiah’s coming.  Even more than that, it resulted in the actual rejection of the very One they said they were waiting for.

 

They rejected Him when He did not fit the mold they were expecting.

 

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.

Matthew 26:3-4

 

They were waiting, as they were told to do so in the Old Testament, but they were not waiting expectantly … in short, they r-e-a-l-l-y didn’t think anything was going to happen.  They did not expect the Savior to be born, certainly not on their watch!  He would certainly not come as Jesus did, so they rejected His message and His life – they set out to kill him and, ultimately, they did so.

 

In today’s world, we are still waiting for the Lord, but this time it is for His second coming.  This time it is waiting for Him, when He will usher in the end of time and the beginning of our eternity.  We are told to wait for Him and He promised that He would come again.

 

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.  When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.”

Matthew 25:13. 31

 

He said that He would come back.  Do we wait expectantly for our Lord to return?

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

John 14:3

 

Are we weighed down with the cares of this life so that His second coming is nowhere on our radar screen?

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  … Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:27, 33-36

 

Are we longing to see Him and to leave this world behind for the life we will have with Him in heaven?

 

I may be able to list out the details of a wedding or a trip, but I cannot list the details of the second coming of my Lord and Savior.  I can, however, trust what He says in Scripture. The details of this incredible event are unimportant to me here and now. I don’t need to know all the ins and outs of the details.  Those are in God’s hands.  The fact that Jesus will return is based on the truth of Scripture.

 

God’s Word is true.  Unless my body quits and I die first (at which time I will be met by my Lord in heaven), Jesus will return and take me to join the Church Triumphant.  Praise His holy Name!

 

Lord, may I be so in tune with You and your Word that I don’t get caught up in the detail but I rest in You and your righteousness, love, mercy and grace.  May I not get so entwined with the goods, activities and cares of this world that I forget to watch and prepare for your return.  Thank you Lord for salvation and the blessing of your Word and for the security and truth of your promises!

BE PREPARED!

Even as I write this post, winter storm Jonas is still pummeling the New England coast with rain, sleet, heavy snow and pelting winds although it has now pretty much finished its work in the southern United States. We knew it was coming … all week long we were told by the weather forecasters that a monster storm was brewing and it would bring drenching rains for days on end in the south and snow that could be measured in feet, not inches, farther north and along the eastern coastline.

People were warned to be prepared. Of course, in our area, we are told that there is a 10% chance of snow and, within an hour, the stores are out of bread and milk. So, with a 100% chance of snow predicted, my husband went to a convenience store to pick up a gallon of milk, fully expecting that there would be none. However, he found that there was a healthy supply of both milk and bread. He expressed his surprise to the cashier and was told “you need to look at the shelves where the beer is usually found!” Apparently, for some folks, beer is more important to have on hand during a snow storm than milk and bread, if you are expecting to be in the house for a number of days.

Wood for stove
Wood sitting by the fireplace ready to be used when needed.

 

Preparation is important. At the house, we have firewood stacked outside and an immediate supply next to the fireplace.

Wood stove fire
The fire in the wood stove insert in the fireplace. The ceramic cow is for added humidity and the fans on each side start spinning when the heat from the fire is built up.

 

The fireplace has an insert that makes it a wood burning stove, so when the temperature started falling, my husband built a fire and we were toasty warm … hot in fact, the room was 82 degrees at one point! But we were prepared.   If power goes out, we can cook on the top of the stove.  We had the food we needed, the heat we needed, everyone was inside, and all was well.

Snow - Bird feeder
Backyard bird feeder covered in snow.

 

Although the snow did not materialize in any significant amount at our house, it did in surrounding areas. For us, it was just enough to make the neighborhood pretty. There is something so serene and still when snow is falling.

 

Snow - front yard
Front yard with snow blanket, serene and white.

 

Even the canine members of the family were prepared. We put their yellow slickers on them and turned them loose in the backyard. They loved to run and sniff the snow, in fact, Snickers tried to catch the flakes with her mouth.

The video is of the two of them in the back yard – wait for the first 8 seconds and then you will see the two yellow streaks pass by the field of view! I hope it brings a smile to your face.

 

Preparation. People prepared for several days to be ready to withstand any difficulties that may arise in this storm. We prepare for a great many things … academic tests, surprise celebrations for loved ones, the potential of a new baby, transfer to a new job, moving to a new community, company coming for dinner … yes, we prepare for many things.

 

The question is whether we have prepared for the ultimately important thing … where we will spend eternity.

 

In the Old Testament, King Belshazzar decided to give a feast for one thousand of his lords and officials. You can read about this extravaganza in Daniel chapter 5. While they were reveling and using the vessels from the Lord’s House to drink their wine, the king was rightly disturbed when he saw a hand writing on the wall of the palace. Ultimately, the Lord’s prophet Daniel was called to interpret the writing.

 

“And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.

Daniel 5:25-31 [ESV]

 

Belshazzar believed himself to be above reproach – he was king and nothing could harm him. Certainly not anything that would arise during his festival! He forgot that God was responsible for his position and that God could snuff out his life, literally, in a heartbeat. In short, he ran out of time to prepare to meet God.

 

In the New Testament, Jesus tells a parable of the rich man who had so much bounty from his farm that he didn’t know what to do. So he built larger barns to store his grain and his goods. Then he said:

“And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’” “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'”

Luke 12:19-20 [ESV]

 

The man in Jesus’ parable ran out of time to prepare to meet God and, based on God’s referring to him as “Fool,” it would appear that he was not ready. He had placed so much emphasis on his personal abilities that he gave himself all credit and left nothing to God. In this case, his eternal destiny was decided by his own foolish refusal to acknowledge his need for God. In short, he ran out of time to prepare to meet God.

 

Preparation. Scripture says that preparation for our eternal salvation is simple and yet profound.

“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

Romans 10:9-10 [ESV]

 

Are you prepared? Where will you spend eternity?  Now is the time of salvation!

 

Father, thank you for your provision of salvation and for the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for the indwelling Holy Spirit and for the work of the Spirit in prompting your children to come to you. I pray that you would use my life as a witness for you, and that these few words would be used by your Spirit to prompt people to search your word and so come to a realization of the saving work of our Lord on their behalf.