We were a tight-knit family, the three of us, so when the time neared for Matthew to go off to college four hundred miles away, a sense of loss accompanied our excitement for this new season of adventure and growth. Student and parent orientations were held simultaneously at his school, both culminating in a joint convocation, and parents were asked to prepare a note to give to their student immediately after the ceremony. Instead of writing one note to our freshman son, Peggy and I decided each of us would write our own. When we compared them afterward, we were amazed to find both of us had penned the exact same sentence to him: “You are ready for this.”
Life is full of readiness moments; school is just one of many. Athletics, relationships, careers, retirement—all of these demand certain levels of preparedness. The same is true of our death: “You must be ready,”1 Jesus said to his disciples not long before leaving this world. He spoke of His return, but the same is true of our natural demise, as Jesus taught through a parable of a rich man, who invested himself entirely in worldly wealth for personal pleasure. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”2 You have our attention, Jesus.
So, how do we become “rich toward God”? In a word: trust. Or in two words: total trust. When people in a crowd asked Jesus, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”3 For when we see Jesus for who He really is, and when we receive for ourselves the truth that He loves us to the point of ultimate sacrifice, His Spirit is born in us—we are His, we are forever new, and we will never die.4 This is not to suggest that at the point of belief we cease preparing for the Kingdom yet to come; rather, a new life of meaning and impact has been given to us. God has prepared good works for us to do, not to gain His favor, but in the freedom of the favor He has shown us in Christ. We pursue them knowing this: Jesus has gone to “prepare a place”5 for us, and we await the day when we hear, “Come, for everything is now ready.”6 He readies for us, while we ready for Him.
Father, we marvel at your proactive, initiating love. Save us, and free us. Grow us, and guide us. Prepare us, and use us. Grace us to be ready. In Christ we pray. Amen.
1 Matthew 24:44
2 Luke 12:20, 21
3 John 6:28
4 John 11:26
5 John 14:3
6 Luke 14:17 ESV