Command; “Be prepared.” This can be an easy order to obey or it can be neigh on to impossible.
Easy: When they come to our home in the hills to stay overnight, my grandchildren not only know that our power goes off more frequently than at home. They not only know that they have a flashlight by their beds at night, just in case. They also know enough to double-check that flashlight to make sure it is working. Just a little thoughtfulness is all it has taken to get it into their heads that they need to be prepared for a power outage. Once kids catch on to the importance of being ready for an emergency, they can get quite annoying about it. On one visit, an older grandchild ordered me to get rid of an outdated fire extinguisher. I did. The replacement cost $44. With just a bit of effort and for a reasonable cost, it can be easy to be prepared.
Impossible: Intending to be fully prepared for every emergency, contingency, future peril, act of humans or “act of god” will drive you crazy. The cost would bankrupt anyone, even Bill Gates. When is enough preparation ever enough? It is impossible to become secure that way.
None-the-less, wisdom and necessity require some preparations; but these are impossible if we do not acknowledge the risks, measure the danger and set priorities.
Stop reading for a minute. Give some thought to the risks you are living with. Ponder the immense variety of preparations you take to avoid excess risk…
Fire insurance. Fire extinguishers. Smoke detectors. Non-flammable pajamas. Carbon monoxide detectors. Radon detectors. Funding fire departments, police departments, EMT’s, 911 and national defense. Life insurance. Medical insurance and medical savings plans. Auto insurance. AAA membership. Auto emergency kit. Guns. 911. Home security and surveillance systems. Generators. Candles and safety matches. Exit strategies. Guards at the gate. Guards at the bank. Guards at the border. Guard on the table saw. Guard rails. Guard dogs. Safety pins. Safety patrols. Child proof caps. Child proof locks. Warning signs. Rainy day savings. Raincoat. First aid kit. Door locks. Barred windows. Emergency supplies of food, water, whiskey, medicines and toilet paper. A bug-out-bag.
Again, all of these preparations require, first, the acknowledgment of a risk, various measurements of the degree of danger and the cost of being prepared, plus setting priorities. I have a friend who has buried—he won’t tell me where—an arsenal of weapons and 100,000 rounds of ammunition. The cost? You could calculate that in dollars. But, I would not know where to begin the calculation of costs to his relationships, peace of mind and overall well-being. Sit with him over a beer for just a couple of minutes and you will visually see the oozing fear.
Which brings us to my devotional Bible reading over the past few week–the final chapters of the Gospel of Luke. Read them slowly. Read them again. You can hear in the words, over and over again, the vibrations of fear for the future—for which the disciples were utterly unprepared. Even Jesus was unable to get them ready for, or to even believe, what was coming next. (They could not stay awake with Jesus. Peter could not even utter the sounds of, “I know Him.” They were prepared for a victory parade but not the walk to Golgotha. Apparently, there was no way to prepare them for such a passage. For fear, they hid out in an upper room. They hopelessly returned to the work and worry of daily life. Would the passage through the darkness be their preparation? I am editing this article on election day. How many of us are fully prepared, emotionally and spiritually, for defeat? For interpreting defeat as an opportunity?)
But, it is on that road of suffering and death, which looks and feels just like defeat, that Jesus prepares anyone for all the “What is next?” events of our lives. (Sorry, I don’t know of any other way to become prepared. I don’t think there is any way to learn that death is not terminal except to die.) On that road we begin to learn that life always triumphs over death, that fear ends but Just Love is eternal.
This has always been the reality of our lives; and the reality of everything, including the whole vast universe. However, today, knowing this reality and knowing how to pass beyond grief to hope, is a lesson that no one can afford to delay for even a nano-second. Why?