For the past two years, around November, God would share with me a word for the upcoming year. Last year, I heard the word transition and as I shared here it was very apparent throughout 2013. For this upcoming year, I have been hearing the word preparation; more specifically the phrase, “Stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready.”
Have you ever had a time when you had been lounging around in your pajamas all day and randomly a friend or family member asks you if you want to ride with them to the mall or go out to eat? They say that they are on the way but since you were not ready you ended up missing an opportunity. Or ladies, maybe the one day you decided to dress down and not wear makeup is the day you see an old special someone you haven’t seen in years in the store. During that awkward and embarrassing encounter you can’t help but think to yourself, “Great, this is how they are going to remember me.” (Don’t front, you know that’s happened to you before lol) Although these are somewhat trivial examples of being unprepared, they help to illustrate incidents that could have yielded a different result had you been properly prepared.
In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus shares The Parable of the Ten Virgins. In this story, Jesus illustrates what it means to be ready for his return and how to live until he comes. These ten virgins (or bridesmaids) were waiting for the bridegroom. Weddings in Israel during that time included a processional that went to the bride’s home and back to the bridegroom’s house for the wedding ceremony and banquet. This happened after dark (in a time with no streetlights) so each person needed to carry his or her own lamp. There were five virgins who were foolish and did not take any extra oil for their lamps. The remaining five virgins were wise and decided to carry extra oil with them. The bridegroom was taking a long time to arrive and the virgins fell asleep. At midnight, a cry went out for the women to come out to meet the bridegroom. They woke up and trimmed their lamps but the foolish ones had ran out of oil. They asked the wise ones for some of theirs but they told them no because if they gave them some of their oil they would not have enough for themselves. Instead, they told the foolish ones to go and buy their own. As they went off to buy some more oil for their lamps, the bridegroom arrived. The wise women, who were ready, went in with him to the wedding banquet and the door was shut. When the foolish women returned and asked to be let in they were turned away.
Although this story is related spiritually to the return of Christ, it can also be applied practically to our lives. How many times have you been in situations where you wish you had been more prepared? Whether it was for a test, a presentation, on a job interview, a business opportunity or whatever it may have been you saw what lack of preparation could do. In this parable, the foolish women missed out on an opportunity and once that door was shut, there was no other way to get in.
In 2014, there will probably be so many opportunities afforded to you in all aspects of your life. In order to ensure that you make the most of these opportunities (or rather, not miss them) it is important that you be prepared. I am learning that being prepared requires you to:
1. Be Intentional. This means that what you are doing is deliberate and done on purpose . You have a specific task that you are focused on and everything that you do is centered around it. You have a plan, catered to a specific result, of which you choose not to deviate from.
2. Be Committed. This requires you to be faithful and devoted to the task at hand. You don’t waver back and forth about what you need to do. As Yoda says, “Do or do not…”. When you are committed you remain focused and when you are focused you remain committed.
3. Be Consistent. You are not half-way doing things or on one day and off the next. Whether the progress is in baby steps or big steps is not what matters. What is most important is that you are steadily moving forward.
So as we kick off a new year, just as you purpose to be spiritually prepared for Christ’s return aspire to be physically prepared for possible opportunities that arise. And remember, to stay ready so that you don’t have to get ready.
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