There’s been no shortage of catastrophic events in the last few years. As a result, many have begun to prepare for shortages of food, water, electrical power, the lack of law enforcement, etc. What’s known as “prepping” has become more mainstream than it once was. In the security community this is simply known as contingency planning, and it’s a very wise practice. Those who prepare in advance for contingencies will fare much better than those who are unprepared when things suddenly change.
Preparing to meet the physical needs of those you love during shortages and political instability is an important part of caring for others. During our time living or working overseas we’ve seen the look of utter desperation on the faces of those who were unprepared for any number of challenges. We never want to see this look again, especially on the faces of those we most dearly love. For this reason, we choose to prepare in advance for a wide range of physical contingencies. But what about spiritual prepping?
Television screens across the world this week have shown horrific images as the country of Afghanistan was overrun by Islamic militants and attacks against civilians and U.S. forces have taken place. Brave soldiers and Marines have lost their lives while attempting to rescue as many as they can from the chaos and bloodshed that’s taking place in Kabul and elsewhere. It’s quite possible that this is just the beginning of the horror to come for this country of almost 40 million people.
As horrific as this is, what will it be like when everything anyone on earth has ever known as normal suddenly ends with the return of Jesus? You may scoff and laugh at this question. You may ridicule those who choose to trust in Jesus for salvation. You may even argue that biblical faith in general is irrelevant and useless. And yet, what if you’re wrong?
Concerning the return of Jesus, Revelation 1:7-8 (NIV) has the following to say:
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all peoples on earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.
The statement in 1:7 that says, “and all peoples on earth will mourn because of him” is based on the fact that relatively few will be spiritually prepared to receive the Lord on his return. Those who scoff now will mourn then. The intensity of this mourning will be like nothing ever experienced on earth as the eternal consequences of what’s taking place becomes evident. You may be well prepared for shortages and political chaos, yet are you prepared for something with far greater ramifications for eternity?
Jesus often spoke about the end. One day his disciples asked him to describe what will happen. The response of Jesus can be found in Luke chapter 21. In verses 25-28 (NIV) Jesus is recorded as saying:
There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
Jesus continues in verses 34-36 with these words:
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
Those who prepare for physical disasters can tell you that there’s more to prepping than simply throwing a few candy bars into a drawer. In the same way, being prepared for the return of Jesus involves more than simply claiming to be a Christian. In fact, many who think they are prepared for Jesus to return will be bitterly disappointed. As an example, consider those mentioned in Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV):
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!
The first step of being prepared for the return of Jesus involves surrendering your heart to him as Lord and Savior. In doing so your sins will be forgiven, you will be reconciled to God the Father, and you will be given the Holy Spirit to guide you through God’s word and through life. If you’ve not done so before, please consider praying in the following way:
God, please search me and know me. I seek to hide nothing from you. I confess that sin separates me from you, and that only by the death of Jesus on my behalf can I be reconciled to you. I receive Jesus as my Savior, and I pray that you would empower me to follow Jesus as my Lord. Please fill me with your Spirit that I may live to please you according to your word. Jesus, please teach me to live in such a way that trusting in you I will be prepared for your return, and help me to love others by helping them to be prepared as well.
The Bible teaches that relatively few will be prepared for the return of Jesus. My prayer is that you and I, and those we love, will be among those who look for this moment with eager anticipation even as we face trials and hardships beforehand. And I pray that our lives will be invested in helping others to be among those who rejoice on that day rather than among those who mourn. Amen.