Be Prepared. It Might Be a While.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” – Matthew 25:13

Those of you who follow this blog are probably aware that I just turned seventy. Friends may joke about being “over the hill,” but being over the hill isn’t so bad. Consider this: When you come up over the hill, the view suddenly changes. You see things you’ve never never seen before. (“Divine perspective”?)

Seventy seemed so old when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. I remember the eve of my 40th birthday, lying awake with the sobering realization that I was getting older and there was nothing I could do to stop it! Before I knew it, it was my 50th, and I started understanding the saying, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper; the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.”

Sixty came, and I was encouraged by the news that according to a recent poll, the 60’s were the happiest decade of life, followed by the 70’s as the second happiest!

And here I am.

When I was younger, this thought of the relentless passing of time frightened me, but as I’ve matured and my faith has been strengthened, I am comforted to know that I am ten years closer to heaven than I was on my 60th birthday, and way closer than I was on my 40th! This is all simple math, I know, but as I give my attitude over to the Lord, He changes fear into serenity, and a crabby old lady into a contented soul.

On days when I see the world careening toward destruction, I start thinking I don’t want to be here when the “bovine poo” (as fellow blogger “Insanity Bytes” would say) hits the fan. That cowardly attitude is totally selfish, of course. The darker it gets, the more we’re needed to be the “light of the world.” As the “salt of the earth,” we’re needed to slow down the decay of civilization long enough to share the Truth with whoever will receive it. (Matthew 5:13-16) And I plan to do that until I take my last breath.

Still, the thought that I was in the home stretch (Psalm 90:10) was exhilarating at times. It was, that is, until Greg, a young man at our church, announced that his grandmother had passed at the age of 104. My first selfish thought was, Good grief, you mean I could be here another 34 years?! Greg shared that she had been faithfully serving the Lord to the very end, turning my mind back to a recent theme of my prayers:

Finishing well.

I have witnessed people close to me and people in the public eye running with God with enviable zeal for a period of time, only to fizzle out or crash in flames. Some have publicly proclaimed that they no longer believe in Jesus, while others merely show by the way they live their lives that He’s no longer important to them. One reason I find myself wanting to “go home” soon is that I do not want to be one of those people! I don’t want my flame to burn out or be snuffed out before its time. Lord, help me to finish well!

Sunday night Greg gave the devotional message at our church, and it proved very timely for me. It was about the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (bridesmaids) waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom.

In those days the bridegroom went to prepare a home for his bride, and when it was ready, he would return for her. The bridesmaids were to greet the returning bridegroom with their lamps, lighting the way to the wedding feast.

In this parable, five of the bridesmaids were wise, and five were foolish. The bridegroom was delayed, and as they were waiting, the lamps of the foolish ones burned out. Panicked, they begged for more oil from the wise ones, who had brought extra, but were told there may not be enough for all of them. While the foolish bridesmaids were out buying more oil, the bridegroom came. And by the time they returned, the banquet had started, and they were locked out.

This parable illustrates the importance of being ready when Jesus, the Bridegroom, returns for His bride (the Church); no one knows the day or the hour.

In most messages on this topic we are admonished, “Be prepared! He may come today!” But rarely do we hear, “Be prepared! It could be a long time.”

In other words, Be ready and stay ready.

Being a Christ-follower isn’t a walk down the aisle, a baptism, and you’re all set. Jesus’s admonition to “count the cost,” as well as this parable of the wise and foolish maidens, is telling us we’re in it for the long haul. Following Him isn’t a sprint followed by coasting; there is no “coasting.” The current of this fallen world is flowing in the direction of evil. If we stop swimming against it, we won’t stand still, we will be swept away. Our relationship with Jesus should never be neglected or taken for granted. Staying connected with Him is the only thing that can get us through this life uncorrupted.

When Jesus returns, He will be met with two responses: Some will be overjoyed at His coming, but many will be appalled, ashamed, and terrified. There may be those who have served Him halfheartedly or not at all since placing their trust in Him as Savior, and it’s not up to me to judge their hearts or whether or not they’ll be locked out of heaven. But I know I don’t want to be one of them. Jesus gave everything for me, how could I give Him less than all of me?

So, whether I live the seventy years described in Scripture or I last as long as Greg’s grandmother, I want to keep the Lord’s light burning brightly in my heart every day.

I want to finish well.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, my life is in Your hands, and I trust You with it, whether it’s for another day or another thirty years. Take me and use me however You desire, until I see You face to face. In Jesus’ name, amen.

42 thoughts on “Be Prepared. It Might Be a While.

  1. Thanks for this. At 77 (next week), I sometimes wish that the end would come sooner rather than later. There are days when the road just seems too bumpy. Then I catch a glimpse of a ray of sunshine or a V of Canada Geese flying by. I figure it’s our Lord reminding me of His presence, inviting me again to cast my cares upon Him. I

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  2. One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 118:24. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. I may get a few more days or a couple more decades, who knows? But the older I get, the more I appreciate the need to live one day at a time, doing my best with each day I’m given.

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  3. We are thinking alike . I heard an accusation that Christians are gnostics if they have this feeling of wanting to leave this world to be with Jesus. I guess Paul was a gnostic . 🀣 But seriously, we still have work to do here for our families. Jesus is with us as we continue living here and serving as his ambassador. I’m glad we have this forum to encourage each other! πŸ’•πŸ™πŸ™‚

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  4. Thanks for these thoughts, Annie. As a fellow 70-year-old, I can relate to everything you say here. Sometimes it feels like a challenge just getting out of bed, but when you see that every day is a gift and a blessing, you can’t help but SPRING up!

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  5. At my church, as we’ve been going through a 3-year Bible reading plan, we looked in my Sunday school class at several kings of Judah who were mostly godly but then fell into various kinds of sin later in life. Lord, help us to finish well!

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    1. Our pastor just finished a whole series on Kings, and that was one of the main points I took away, along with the importance of parents. I noticed in the majority of kings’ bios, the record of the good ones always mentioned who their mothers were, and with the evil ones, usually not. I guess for an evil man to have an evil son is to be expected, even a good man having an evil son, since we live in a fallen world. But an evil king having a good son? I think mentioning who the mother was answers the unspoken question.

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      1. I’m not sure the pattern is the same in Chronicles, but in Kings it goes on until the last 5 chapters of II Kings. Then there’s a whole slew of evil kings with very short reigns. Their mothers are named, for some reason.

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  6. Loved the post Annie. I desire to keep on living for Jesus. Have not reached the stage where I actively consider finishing well. But only God knows how many days I have and so I hope to live each day committed to Him and being prepared.

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  7. Another great and timely message Ann. We must continue to spread the gospel to those who haven’t but need to hear it.
    Looking forward to warmer weather and your return to my neck of the woods.

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  8. Thank you for the kind mention. πŸ™‚

    Something that really helps me, we don’t have to, “leave this world to be with Jesus.” He is here with us, right now! If we can get really comfortable with that truth, then we we pass away we are simply stepping with Him from one room into the next. One of my favorite sayings is that, “Jesus didn’t come just to get you into heaven, He came to get heaven into you.”

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  9. I had a great-aunt who lived to be 103 & sharp as a tack until her final minute. At her 100th birthday party she was asked to address the crowd there. She said, “I am often asked, ‘How do you stay so chipper at your age?’. My answer is the same every day. When you live as long as I have, you have to overlook a lot of things.”. I’m beginning to understand that.

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  10. I’ve been around many people who want to leave – young and old. I’ve been around those who don’t want to go, but have no choice. It’s up to HIM and we just have to trust in Him instead of wanting it our way. Keep shining the light and stay golden!

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