In 2014, my word of the year was REST. Interestingly, one must take action to rest, work to rest, and resolve to rest.
In 2015, my word of the year was OBEY. To embrace that word, I had to obey the prod in my heart to delve into obey.
January 2016 is half-over and I’m finally ready to write about READY. Will future years bring a word to me that won’t lend itself to being a pretzel, twisting back on itself in some form? Maybe in 2017 my word will be CHEESE or SNUGGLE?
If I’m going to study, meditate upon, and delve into what READY means I need to be ready to do it, no? God knows I need these little head-starts. My whole life has been leading to becoming ready if I’m a woman of faith who loves Jesus. From my earliest earnest renditions of “Jesus Loves Me” squeaked in Sunday school classes to nights I’ve tossed anguished with sorrow; from my declaration of faith and baptism to the rebellions of the worldly young adult and back again—it is all a grand swirl of a story aimed squarely at READY.
The first thought I had after shaking hands with READY was the parable of the virgins and their oil lamps.
“1 God’s kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. 2 Five were silly and five were smart. 3 The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. 4 The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. 5 The bridegroom didn’t show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep. 6 In the middle of the night someone yelled out, ‘He’s here! The bridegroom is here! Go out and greet him!’ 7 The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. 8 The silly virgins said to the smart ones, ‘Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.’ 9 They answered ‘There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.’ 10 They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feat, the door was locked. 11 Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door saying, ‘Master, we’re here. Let us in.’ 12 He answered, ‘Do I know you? I don’t think I know you.’ 13 So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.” Matthew 25: 1-13, The Message
Clearly, READY has an eternal trajectory, but I’ve known and believed this for years. What else can I study and learn about being ready in my daily life? Readiness is wisdom and eventually most people learn to plan ahead and prepare. I do that, I noted to myself.
Enter the staidly solid Oswald Chambers and “My Utmost for His Highest.” I used the handy-dandy index and sought devotions where he discussed readiness as a matter of the heart. To be ready is to become childlike again. Who has met a kid not ready for an adventure, who isn’t quick to explore, play, and fancy herself a pioneer? No, she might not be ready for school or ready to do the dishes, but she is inherently eager to soak in new information. Chambers writes, echoing Matthew 25:
“Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him; He appears where we least expect HIm, and always in the most illogical connections. The only way a worker can keep true to God is by being ready for the Lord’s surprise visits. It is not service that matters, but intense spiritual reality, expecting Jesus Christ at every turn. This will give our life the attitude of child-wonder which He wants it to have. If we are going to be ready for Jesus Christ, we have to stop being religious (that is, using religion as a higher kind of culture) and be spiritually real.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, March 29
READY is a constant state of expectation, packed bag in reach, anticipating action. Even when action isn’t on the horizon, being ready—in itself—is action.
Now the question becomes READY to do what?
Serve ~ “Keep your shirts on; keep the lights on! Be like house servants waiting for their master to come back from his honeymoon, awake and ready to open the door when he arrives and knocks.” Luke 12:35-36, The Message
Testify ~ “Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your master. Be ready to speak up and be ready to tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with utmost courtesy.” 1 Peter 3:15, The Message
Go Deeper ~ “So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then, you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.” 1 Peter 2:2-3, The Message