But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand. “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Mark 13:23-31
There’s no way to recall all the times I heard mom say to me, “Remember? I told you that was going to happen.” From touching the hot stove to drinking hot chocolate too fast, running down hills too fast to popping wheelies on my bike, my injuries met with mom’s healing touch and those words. By the way, the wheelie incident led to my handle bars coming off and riding the bike into the ground. My forehead wasn’t the same for weeks.
Jesus said many things to his twelve disciples along with his many followers. Here, with only a few of his disciples, he reveals this pointed message. At the start of this passage, he’s repeating himself. He gave this message to his disciples before, and here it is again, much the same as my mom reminding me (Mark 13:23, John 13:19, 14:29).
Around 70 AD, Jerusalem was sacked and the temple torn down by Titus and his army, and I’m sure the surviving disciples remembered Jesus’ words. But, as we read these words, they have a still audible ring to them. No, this devotional isn’t about eschatology. Cloudbursts of ink and much paper has been consumed in that discussion. No, this will be about us being ready in waiting. Readiness in waiting.
All across the United States, there are regions ready for natural and unnatural calamities. Fires, floods, earthquakes, toxic spills and hurricanes are but a few. We’re in the midst of another now as COVID-19 runs its course. Can we always be fully prepared, in readiness, for these things? Never fully, but fairly prepared is the course usually taken. We, as followers of Jesus, are also called to be in readiness. Jesus shared his plan with us, but how do we stand ready?
There have been many Christian spiritual practices talked and written about. Practices like prayer, solitude, and meditation are things we’ve been learning. Praying for those around you can place your heart in readiness. Being in a quiet place, in a posture of listening, ready for the message from God can bring solace. Meditating on the scriptures can bring new insights and provide a conduit for God’s speaking to us. If you’ve already started these practices, you’ve begun the wonderful journey towards readiness. If you haven’t, perhaps now, in this difficult time, you might start. You never know what manner of comfort you’ll find in journeying towards readiness!
By Rich Obrecht