Plan ahead. Prepare for things you don’t expect.
These are the seeds of wisdom I’ve sprinkled on people for the last 25 years of ministry so they don’t find themselves blindsided by life’s trivial and serious handiwork. I shovel advice like nobody’s business.
Yesterday, I took heed of a weather forecast for “4-8 inches of snow during the night.” I bagged up my patio cushions and pillows and put them in the shed; I pulled out the shovels and placed them in easy reach of the back door. I drove to the grocery, stood in a line with 75 other people, and purchased a half-gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. I was my typically well-prepared self. I could feel the snowstorm coming: the sky was white, the air was cold and chilled, and the world was still.
Except that I really didn’t take the forecast that seriously. I live in Virginia, people. We have highly over-dramatic meteorologists. Three inches, I told myself. Four at the most. I bought milk and bread because I knew everyone else would, and I needed it anyway.
Today I awoke to 7 inches of wet snow covering the world outside my windows, and it’s still snowing 6 hours later. But I was not initially awed by its beauty, as I normally am. Panic gripped me because yesterday I considered taking down the cloth-covered gazebo on my deck, but I decided instead that I couldn’t spare the hour to climb up and down the ladder and carefully dismantle the whole thing. I figured I could just sweep off the top got when I got up this morning.
One look from my bedroom window revealed the results of my casual preparation: the entire structure had caved in under the weight of an accurate forecast. Frantic and close examination revealed bowed support bars, a torn cover, and broken fasteners. A total loss. I have replaced parts to this structure before (that’s another story of stupidity), so I know the cost, time, and unlikelihood of doing it again.
Why do human beings behave like this? Why do we bet on ease when difficulty is predictable?
Jesus warned his disciples in all the gospels to prepare for suffering, persecution, and false teaching so they could meet it head-on. He asked them to plan ahead for the life they were called to live. Mark records his words like this: “Be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.” (Mk. 13:23)
Often, we live our lives in casual indifference to the storms that are coming. We read Scripture about spiritual warfare and the tactics the enemy uses against us through culture and our own lusts. And most of the time, we half-heartedly prepare ourselves. We go to church and Bible study and have 5-minute devotions while we’re eating breakfast or sitting in the bathroom. We’re good. We’ve got the basics done.
We live as if we can’t spare the time—that the total structure of our beautiful lives can’t possibly collapse under the weight of ignored habits and predictable difficulty. We even make the same mistakes over and over. Are we really so naïve? Lazy? Belligerent?
If you’re tired of this cycle, start the New Year with a resolve not to be caught off-guard by the enemy’s attacks. You know they’re coming. Jesus said they were coming. So be on your guard. Get prepared.
If you ready to graduate to a serious Bible study that prepares your heart and mind for the storms of life, look for a study guide that includes:
- Reading a Scripture passage in its context
- Reading explanation by a seasoned Bible teacher
- A place for written responses to questions, notes, and/or personal application
- Prayer about what God reveals to you during your study
Then the next time you feel snow in the air, stock the fridge, get out the shovel, and take down the tent.
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