First Day of Christmas

I love the writings of Walter Wangerin and have been enjoying his book during this advent season, Preparing for Jesus. And today I feel led to share this day’s reading. Prepare to enjoy and be blest!

LUKE 2: 16 “And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger.”

WE ARE THE SHEPHERDS who run: from the fields to the stable, from the night to the morning, from our labors to the Lord. 

We are the ones who run this year, too, as in every year past: 

From toil and our daily chores, we run to the comfort in Bethlehem. 

From our obligations and responsibilities, we run to the strength of Immanuel: God’s strong arm among us. 

From our fears of loss and instability, from the anguish of troubled finances, from poverty we run to the treasure that will not tarnish nor ever diminish, the baby’s eyes like coins in our purse, the baby’s eyes eternal. 

From our obscurity; from the darkness in which we live our lives, unacknowledged, inglorious; from our truer condition as “no one, people that are not” we run to the Son of God, who knows each of our names, and who will call us by our names, and whose very call will empower us to follow. 

From sorrow we run to joy.                                                                                                                     From hatreds we run to love.                                                                                                                 From antagonisms we run to peace.                                                                                                   From sin we run to the Savior.                                                                                                              From death we run to life.                                                                                                                       From sickness we run to the healer. 

O child, we kneel before you. We have no gifts, neither the gold of riches nor the frankincense of holy aroma, nor the myrrh of salve and embalmment. We must ourselves be the gifts we bring to you. Jesus, we offer our bodies as living sacrifices; let them be holy and acceptable to you. 

Son of Mary and Son of God, we worship you. There is no one more worthy than you. In you we see the mercies of God. 

O Word by which the whole Creation came to be, we come to you in rags and tags and unembarrassed, because you, too, have chosen not royalty nor wealth nor power but the lowly existence of shepherds. Swaddled and laid in a manger, you are like us. We yearn to be like you. 

O little Jesus, sleep. Sleep while we kneel and watch over you in a dim light this Christmas too. We honor the woman that bore you. We admire the man that adopted you. We maintain sweet memories of those who brought us, like Mary and Joseph, into the stable to worship you during our own Christmases past. But you are the one we praise. You are the one whom we trust. In you we rest. In you we place our faith. Forever and forever, you are the Christ—and you are our Lord forever. 

Hush, mother Mary; we’ll watch for you.                                                                                                           Sleep while your baby is sleeping too.     

He is a lamb both tender and young,                                                                                                                     We will be shepherds to shepherd your son.                                                                                                                                                 

Christmas Prayer

Please join me in sharing this prayer on this special day that was written for us by Lloyd John Ogilvie:

Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. -LUKE 2:10 

Dear Father, I don’t want to miss the true joy of Christmas. I long for the authentic quality of joy that’s an outward expression of an inner experience of Your grace. Today, on Christmas Eve, help me to receive the full measure sure of Your unqualified love that will result in a day bursting with joy. I hear the words of the angel translated with the true meaning: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, among men in whom He is well pleased.” 

“Now I can repeat the familiar words from John 3:16-17 using the personal pronouns: ‘You so loved me that You gave Your only begotten Son, that believing in Him, I should not perish but have everlasting life. For You did not send Your Son into the world to condemn me, but that through Him I might be saved.’

“My heart leaps. Joy is the ecstasy of heaven for those who know they are loved and forgiven. It’s so much more than happiness that’s dependent on circumstances. Real joy cannot be dampened; it lasts regardless of whatever has happened. 

“Thank You for giving me down-to-earth joy in Jesus. I don’t want to leave Your Christmas gift unwrapped. I hear His whisper in my heart: ‘I came for you, lived for you, died for you, defeated death for you, and am here for you now.’ Joy! Sheer joy!”

May this day be truly blessed for you as you revel in the knowledge of the depth of God’s great love for each of us!

Listening 

My oldest son, David is a Navy Chaplin who is stationed in Okinawa, Japan.  I enjoy reading his weekly messages in the news bulletin that he sends me and today i was especially blessed and wanted to share it with you.
A recruit training company was marching from the chow hall back to their barracks. Only a week or two from graduation they were a sharp looking bunch of Marines, marching with pride in themselves and their accomplishments, snapping off column movements with a precision and skill that presented a model for junior recruits to emulate. That is, until a passing Drill Instructor called out, “To the rear, MARCH!” Half of the recruits knew the order did not come from their DI so they ignored it, but the other half tried to execute it. Chaos ensued. With recruits colliding into each other and a complete breakdown of the column the only thing for the DI to do was to call a halt and have them start exercising.
After weeks of training the recruits should have known better the sound of their DI’s voice. Hours spent in training and drilling will leave an imprint of its pitch and timbre on the hearers’ ears. But in a moment of relaxed self-confidence they answered the first voice they heard, rather than discern from whom the order came.
The recruits’ lesson here should be ours too, and it can be recognized in Jesus’ words from the Gospel of St. John, “He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
Like recruits we have to train our ear to hear the voice of God, and be able to do it especially as distractions become ever more pervasive and persistent.
To train our ear for God’s voice we have to be someplace where we will hear it. We have to go to Church, and in the midst of the prayers and the scripture readings we will train our minds to think and hear the world in the context of the Lord’s teaching. When you catch yourself in a quiet moment humming one of the hymns of the Church, or a litany of prayer, or reciting in your mind a passage of scripture you will begin to understand the value of immersing yourself in Church.
We don’t learn God’s voice just from reading books—even Scripture. We have to encounter God. St. Spyridon, whose feast we celebrated this past Monday, was an illiterate shepherd who became one of the greatest luminaries of the Church. He couldn’t read, but he could hear, and he memorized long passages of scripture simply by listening. Because he loved God and wanted to hear His voice, Spyridon spent enough time where he could hear the Scriptures that they became part of him. He then became part of the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea where he was instrumental in settling disputes, thus contributing significantly to the Council’s successful conclusion.
Jesus’ words carry a subtle warning, too: “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” How familiar are we with the voices of strangers to God? How much more time do we spend listening to them than listening to God? For example, I recently decided that I will henceforward refuse to read profanity. If I click on an interesting title and begin reading, the first four-letter word I encounter will be last I read there, no matter how otherwise intelligent and well-reasoned the argument. If it’s word saying at all, it’s worth saying politely, and I was spending too much time polluting my mind with ugly words—strangers’ voices—because an author couldn’t be bothered to avoid them.
We all need to seek and to pray for discernment, because if all of us can learn how to focus on God’s voice, and limit strangers’ voices, maybe then we can know how to respond not to the first voice we hear, but to God’s voice only. Maybe then we can avoid running into each other and causing chaos. Maybe then we can become more like Christ.

Moving On…

Some people are not able to enjoy the present or prepare for tomorrow because they are still living in the past. Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe has put it like this: “Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?’ You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror. The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you down. We must learn from the past but not live in the past.” Or as Thomas Holdcroft once put it, “The past is a guide post, not a hitching post.”

It has been some time since I’ve written anything on this blog. I could give many good excuses but the real reason is that I found myself at a crossroad and was unsure as to the path I wanted to take.  It was the situation that all paths were equally good; there was no wrong direction in front of me. The Lord had presented me with options and essentially said, “Have at it my child, your choice.” As a result I have taken some time to try and think things through to decide on the path that I would take.  Choice made and I’m moving on!

As Holdcroft advised, I used the past as my guide post in making my choices and decision. And even when I do glimpse into the rearview mirror, I am encouraged because I can see how God has guided me over the years which in turn gives me the encouragement I need to hold the rudder steady and unwavering into the future.

Taking up this blog once again is part of the path that I am taking.  I want to thank those of you who have been such an encouragement to me in so many ways these days but especially those of you who have encouraged me to continue with this blog. You asked for it, you got it!  smiley-face

What gives me the most assurance in my decision of which path I wanted to take is best articulated by A.W. Tozer as he writes: “Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there” (The Pursuit of God).

I Choose….

I love going into a fabric store. I could literally spend hours there. I especially love it when I am looking for specific fabric that I want to use in a quilt. In a good store there can be hundreds of fabrics to choose from. Making these choices brings out a feeling of creativity that just satisfies something within me.

Choice; it is good thing. It is good to have options … but the ability to choose does not necessarily result in joy. Because, it can also be anxiety producing. When our son was about 6 he was given $1.00 to spend. Kevin soon found himself caught up in a real dilemma because there were too many choices and he just could not make up his mind.  He left that store empty handed (we did have to go back and he finally was able to make a choice. For many, like Kevin, there is the concern that the wrong choice will be made. Fear of making the wrong choice is very real in this day and age particularly as  there are so many competing voices telling us what we should do and what we should want.

Joshua confronted this head on: “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:24)  In this passage of Joshua, verses 14-24, we find that Joshua  was direct and forthright in his challenge to the people. Their response was one that should have pleased his heart. But he understood that ‘lip service’ in the moment or going along with the crowd is easy — so he further challenged them: “You are not able to serve the Lord.” He wanted them to fully understand the ramifications of their decision, their choice.

Whether large or small, our choices have consequences that we often cannot foresee. In our first appointment I left the office to run a quick errand at a local strip mall.  I made a wrong turn and soon realized that I was in Wendy’s neighborhood.  Wendy was a Women’s Ministry member who I realized had not attended for a couple of weeks.  Since I was already in her neighborhood I decided to drop by for a visit.  As I pulled up to her house there was a small moving van at the curb. As I walked up the drive I found Wendy just inside the garage.  As soon as she saw me she came into my arms and begin to tell me that her husband was leaving her. I’ve often thought about that day and wondered at a wrong turn and a simple decision to make an impromptu visit. The ramifications of the choice I made that day resulted in consequences that I could never have foreseen. But the Spirit nudged me and pushed me until I was going in the right direction—till I made the right choice. O, Lord, keep me sensitive to Your presence and keep my ear attuned to Your voice, so that when confronted with even a simple choice, I will choose rightly.

I leave you with the following reading from Max Lucado, When God Whispers Your Name. 

“As each day begins we are confronted with choices; there will be decisions that need to be made, deadlines that need to be met; and the calm solitude of the morning will be replaced by the pounding pace of the day.

For the next few hours we will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that choices need to be made. Because of Calvary, I am free to choose. And so I choose.

I Choose Love….

No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

I Choose Joy…

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical…the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I Choose Peace…

I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I Choose patience…

I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I Choose Kindness…

I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I Choose Goodness…

I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

I Choose faithfulness…

Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My spouse will not question my love. And my children will never fear that I will not be there for them.

I Choose Gentleness…

Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, my it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

I Choose Self-Control…

I am a spiritual being… After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

“To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.”

 

Autumn Reflections

Autumn is a gorgeous time of year. It is a time when nature surrounds us with vivid colors and the air becomes cool—tangy and crisp. Autumn is that time of year when fallen leaves dance wildly down the streets and people begin to shuffle along through crackling, crunching leaves as memories of childhood take over.

Autumn is just a beautiful breath-taking time of year when nature takes out her paintbrush and goes to work getting rid of the sameness of green. Along with its beauty autumn brings with it a sense of purpose that touches us all in different ways:

  • Children go back to school
  • Adults get busy reorganizing homes, work and their lives in general
  • Farmers are busy harvesting crops
  • Even wild creatures are busy preparing for the winter ahead

 

But autumn is also a time of reflection; a time to gain perspective and to think about and evaluate our lives and situations. But in so doing we must not neglect our inner selves. It is good to take the opportunity of the season to check our spiritual connectedness and condition. During these days of reflection I want to know, “how are my roots?” Are they deep and well nourished? Am I producing fruit? And most painful of all, what needs pruning away?

I remember when our son was graduating from college I decided to make him a scrapbook of his school pictures, activities, and report cards. In the process I discovered that a photo album is like a magic carpet ride into the realm of memory. Like leaves of October tinted with the red and gold colors of autumn, snapshots are colored with the rich pastels of previous events and people. Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins writes this in his book, Human Options:

“A man (woman) comes to know himself through the pictures he takes … in … reviewing the hundreds of pictures I have taken … in many parts of the world … I learn … the camera is more than a box that records an external situation … it is also turned inwards.”

I discovered the truth of that statement as I recognized that I was not the same person that I was in many of the photos that I was gathering for David. (We won’t talk about age or weight…..) But more importantly, I was not the same spiritually. Thank you, Lord, I have grown, blossomed, and have endured the hard times of pruning.In the harvesting season we tend to be more impressed with the fruit of the harvest. Not so God. He cares about more than just the end result—He’s watching over the roots. We like the product but God emphasizes the process. It is the Spirit Who plants right seeds and nurtures them. In due course, in His time, “fruit” appears.

Remember: “God Who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His work within you is finally finished.” (Phil. 1:6, TLB)

This promise is at the root of God’s purpose for us, it’s a guarantee that the One who started “the good work within you” won’t leave the task unfinished. We can continue to grow and flourish—and be pruned—in the sure knowledge that God will never fail us. For you see, while we may be in the autumn season we know that there are other seasons in which to live that help us to fulfill the promise that we can live life abundantly.

The rich variety of seasons is an example of how the Lord uses time to work out His purposes in our lives. Ruth Thomas expresses it best in her poem, “The Untried Way” when she writes:

“The same Yesterday – the God behind me, the God of the ages

The same Today, the God beside me, with His guiding hand

The same Forever – the God before me in the dim, unknown future.

Theologian Helmut Thielicke expresses his trust in God of seasons when he writes, “It is true that I do not know what is coming, but I know who is coming. Therefore, I can drain the moment in which I live, laughing and weeping … with the face of God shining on me … we can catch a fleeting glimpse of the magnitude of the future by the down payment we have already received.”

As autumn continues to progress expect your roots to deepen and grow. Reflect on the Lord and as He makes you aware of His creation, through the vivid colors and the bare trees of this season, remember God is at work. He is working with you and in you to bring out the beauty of your life.

 

 

Choices

Thus, and not otherwise, the world was made. Either something or nothing must depend on individual choices.

C.S. Lewis

It must be a function of age but it seems that I am more and more intrigued by how the choices we make affect our lives. Even seemingly small choices can make a big difference. For example, you finally decide to clean out a closet and come across an old picture that looks like a Picasso but you know it could only be a knock-off (what would a Picasso be doing in a Salvation Army closet?). But just to be sure you have it evaluated and while Sotheby’s cannot determine for sure that it is an authentic Picasso, they tell us that the picture is worth thousands. What would have happened if I had simply just thrown it away? Nothing — except we would have been out a few thousand dollars.

The reality is that no matter what the situation, you always have a choice and the choice you make always makes a difference, whether or not we see it or even understand it.

In the film “Whose Life Is It Anyway?” Richard Dreyfuss played the part of a young artist who was paralyzed from the neck down in an automobile accident. The doctors told him he would never paint or sculpt again. He would never leave his bed under his own power. Nor was he ever likely to marry. With that future before him, the young man decided he no longer wanted to live. Death seemed to him to be the best option. The rest of the film detailed his fight to force the doctors to let him die.

Now contrast that fictional situation with the true story of Joni Eareckson Tada. At 17 she was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident, and faced a helpless existence as a quadriplegic. She was told she would never feed herself, never drive a car, and most likely never marry. She too wanted to die, and would have committed suicide if she had been able. However, when confronted with the Gospel, Joni chose to follow Christ and to let God bring joy and healing to her life. Now God never “healed” Joni in the traditional sense of the word, but she now paints by holding a brush in her teeth, speaks to audiences across the country, drives a specially equipped van and is married. What could have been the end of her life was only a new beginning.

Now granted we are seldom called upon to make drastic choices such as this. But we do make choices daily that affect our lives in a multitude of ways.

  • If someone is rude to you–are you rude back?
  • If someone hurts you–do you try to get even?
  • Are you quick to judge?
  • When faced with a problem, do you look for quick easy answers?
  • How faithful are you in fulfilling responsibilities?
  • What about your daily time alone with the Lord, reading His Word and praying?

How we choose to respond in any given situation reflects on the outside what is happening on the inside.

Almighty God, You have promised strength for the work of this day, power to handle the pressures, light for the way, patience in problems, help from above, unfading courage, and undying love. In the stresses and strains of living, often I sense my wells have run dry. Life has a way of de-powering me, depleting my resiliency, and draining my patience. People can get me down and perplexities stir me up.

Lord, I pray for a fresh flow of your strength—strength to think clearly, serve creatively, and endure consistently; strength to fill up diminished human resources; silent strength that flows from Your limitless source, quietly filling them with artesian power.

You never ask me to do more than You will provide the strength to accomplish. So make me a riverbed for the flow of Your creative Spirit. Fill this day with serendipities, unexpected surprises of Your grace. Be Lord of every conversation, the unseen guest at every meeting and the guide of every decision. In the name of Him who is the way, the truth and the life.

Amen.

(author unknown)

Quilts I Have Sewn

As I continue with this blog, it’s focus is changing course a bit.  What I would like to do is add a section that describes my life in quilting.  I have always had an interest in quilts, quilting, and the history of quilting.  In the course of learning the craft of quilting I have had some interesting, encouraging, blessed and frustrating experiences.

So on this page (assuming I can figure this blog thing out–the set up part to do this…) I would like to begin sharing my adventures in quilt.

I would like to begin with telling you about my “Blind Quilt.”   Blind Quilt

I have a genetic eye disease called Fuchs’ Dystrophy.  The Mayo Clinic website describes it this way: “Fuchs’ (fooks) dystrophy affects the cornea — the clear front window of your eye. This disorder causes swelling in the cornea that can lead to glare, cloudy vision and eye discomfort.”

When you have Fuchs’ dystrophy the cells in an inner layer of the cornea called the “endothelium” start dying off. Since these cells pump the water out of the eye, the cornea fills up with water and swells. The cornea is the “window” of the eye, and assimilates the light, so the more advanced the Fuchs’ dystrophy is the blurrier and more indistinct your vision will be.

For a number of years the only thing that could be done for this condition was to use things like hair dryers to try and pull water from your eyes, to use Muro drops that will also pull water from your eyes and hopefully prevent water “blisters” from forming.  Then at some point in the process you could have a full cornea transplant which would give you some relief and sight but your visual acuity would not be good.  Then an ophthalmologist  discovered that better results could be achieved by doing what is called a partial corneal transplant or DSEK. The results from this surgery can be life changing for the patient.  I was one such patient.  Thank you, Lord for appointing me to the community where this surgery was pioneered.

The year before the surgery was done, my eyesight was so bad that it had become more and more difficult for me to read even large overhead traffic signs from any distance. I almost needed to be under them to read them.  The day after my surgery was miraculous! On the way home–after having bandages removed– I just kept drinking in the clarity of what I was seeing! As an artist and quilter, my world began to come together once more.

A couple of years later in a different appointment, my ophthalmologist recommended that the other eye should be now be done.  After the success of the other surgery I didn’t even hesitate so that I never reckoned on the difficult days I was about to face.

For three months after that surgery I lived with a detached cornea with no guarantee that I would ever see properly from my left eye again. What added to the difficulty is that my right eye was deteriorating from the added strain of the load it carried.  During this time God provided me with a Christian ophthalmologist who was determined to get my eye corrected and healed. (I’ve been told that he wrote a couple of “papers” on my care.)

It was during this time that God comforted me and helped me to realize that I could accept whatever my future held and helped me realize that He would always give me a ministry and purpose along with the needed gifts and desires to accomplish them.

About a month or so into what I call my “blind time” I worked on and completed the above quilt.  While making that quilt I spent quite a few moments listening to the Lord through audible books, pod casts (thank you Stan Key for the Bible studies), music, and prayer. Scripture says, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ[b] who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

My blind quilt is getting pretty worn these days but then so am I. This quilt is still is a vivid reminder to me of all that I have walked through with the Lord and tends to bring to my heart a sense of peace.

 

 

You Know I Love You

The following song has been going through my mind this morning and felt led to share it. A huge thanks to Ken Kirby whose voice I hear singing it. Ken sang this as a solo when the SWONEKY Division presented the Gowans and Larsson’s musical “Jesus  Folk” way back in the early 1970’s.

Knowing my failings, knowing my fears,

Seeing my sorrow, drying my tears.

Jesus recall me, me re-ordain;

You know I love you, use me again.

2.

I have no secrets unknown to you,

No special graces, talents are few;

Yet your intention I would fulfill;

You know I love you, ask what you will.

3.

For the far future I cannot see,

Promise your presence, travel with me;

Sunshine or shadows? I cannot tell;

You know I love you, all will be well.

Thank you, Lord that this is still very much my prayer, even today. Lord, You know I love you and I know all will be well.

Surprised by….

It had been a particularly exhausting week when finally I was able to enjoy a bit of “me time.” Getting my hair cut was first on my list. The brand new hairstylist invited me to her chair and introduced herself. As usually happens, she asked me what I did for a living. Being tired and not really wanting to converse much, I simply said that I was a Salvation Army officer. “Oh,” was her response as she continued to work on my hair. After a quiet minute or two and after I began thinking, ‘oh, good. She’s not a chatty person.’ Then she says, “so what do you do as an officer?” Not really being in the mood for conversation, I simply gave her a real short version of officership.  She went quiet again. Then she said, “does that mean that you also do counseling?” Ok, now my antenna fully engages as I say, “yes” and identify my counseling as pastoral in nature. “Oh,” she says as she goes quiet again. Now I am sending SOSs to the Lord, praying for his guidance. She then leans very close to my ear and quietly whispers, “I found out yesterday that my three year old son was molested.” Over the course of the next few minutes we spoke quietly together. I honestly do not remember what was said but I do know that the Holy Spirit spoke through me in those few moments.

C.S. Lewis described his conversion to Christianity as being “surprised by joy.” He wrote a whole book about it. Lewis was raised in a Christian home. But his intellectualism led him to atheism. Lewis, however, could never get comfortable with his disbelief. As he said, “I could not get away from Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet.” Then in the college term of 1929 he was brought kicking, struggling, eyes darting in every direction, back home to Christ. He was overwhelmed by joy.

To be surprised is to feel wonder, astonishment, amazement, at something unanticipated. To be surprised is to be dumfounded, even flabbergasted. But not everything that comes our way in the course of a day can in any way be classified as joyful. Like my experience with the hairstylist, some things that come our way can be absolutely heartbreaking.

“Be prepared.” That’s the boy scout motto. It is also the motto of the Christian. Jesus tells us in a parable that to be prepared  is like the master of a large estate who goes on a journey. When he returns home, he expects his servants to be at their posts so that when he knocks on the door, they will open the door immediately for him to come in. If they are prepared for his coming, then the master will reward them bountifully. They will sit at his table and he himself will serve them. If they are not at their post, the master will deal with that, too. Be ready, counseled Jesus. Be prepared. There is probably no wiser advice than that. To be prepared is also wise advice in terms of our relationship with Christ. And it is wise advice in our everyday lives.

Preparation is often the difference between success and failure. Jesus wanted us to see that. In the parable mentioned above we find that it contains one of the great truths of life. People who are prepared have an advantage over those who are not. Being prepared means that, while we may be caught off guard, we have the means to deal with any confrontation.
The good news is that preparation can be easy. Being prepared means that we are closely connected to Jesus who gives us the Holy Spirit who gives the guidance and power we need to handle all situations. One word of advice. You can make the work of the Holy Spirit in you a tad easier by study of Scripture and by spending quiet time in His presence. This obviously strengthens your relationship with Him as well as deepens your trust. Then when you are surprised by circumstances you are not left defenseless.

“Almighty God, You have promised strength for the work of this day, power to handle the pressures, light for the way, patience in problems, help from above, unfading courage, and undying love. In the stresses and strains of living, often I sense my wells have run dry. Life has a way of de-powering me, depleting my resiliency, and draining my patience. People can get me down and perplexities stir me up. 

“Lord, I pray for a fresh flow of Your strength-strength strength to think clearly, serve creatively, and endure consistently; strength to fill up diminished human resources; silent strength that flows from Your limitless source, quietly filling them with artesian power.

You never ask me to do more than You will provide the strength to accomplish. So make me a riverbed for the flow of Your creative Spirit. Fill this day with serendipities, ties, unexpected surprises of Your grace. Be Lord of every conversation, the unseen guest at every meeting and the guide of every decision. In the name of Him who is the way, the truth and the life.” –Lloyd John Ogilvie, Quiet Moments with God