This Week’s Beacon

Our minister writes a weekly column for our local newspaper, the Roanoke Beacon.  We’ve included the latest edition below.

I’m writing as a hurricane approaches.

Water and lamp oil are stockpiled. We’ve got enough food for several days, including some bread, milk and eggs. Propane tanks are full, the generator is standing by and extra gasoline is purchased.  The vehicle gas tanks are topped off. We’ve got extra batteries for flashlights and a solar powered radio. Cell phones are charged.

The grass is mowed, since it might stay pretty wet for a while.  All the outside stuff – lawn chairs and tables and trash cans have been moved inside. There’s nothing left outside that might become a projectile in the wind.

Neighbors are checked on.  The elderly are safe. Prayers have been said.

We’re ready.

If there’s anything good about a hurricane, it’s good that we have plenty of warning.  Hurricanes don’t sneak up like tornadoes or flash floods or lightning strikes, they announce their approach.  Satellite cameras track hurricanes across miles of ocean, and folks with bad sinuses feel the ache as the barometric pressure drops.  The media, always ready to hype, and government officials, always fearing the political consequences of neglect, make certain that no one is surprised by the storm. All we’ve heard this week is hurricane, hurricane, hurricane.  We know the storm is coming; we have time to prepare.

Ironically, there’s almost a party atmosphere as folks go about preparing.  Strangers chat at grocery stores and gas stations, friends compare lists and assurances are given. School kids get extra time off and old folks receive special attention.  Neighbors step in to help neighbors with the bigger preparations and families come together as the deadline approaches. The immediate future might look a bit grim, but hey, we’re all in this together, right?

The ironic part, of course, is that as we exhaust ourselves in preparation, we’re hoping it’s all a waste of time.  Sure, it’s great to be ready to beat the storm, but it’s even better if the storm doesn’t show up for the contest! Let that sucker turn out to sea, and we all breathe a sigh of relief. The hurricane may not arrive, and we’d be perfectly content if it didn’t.

Jesus IS coming.

Mark records Jesus’ warning about His return in Mark 13:32-37 (NIV).  “No one knows about that day or hour,” Jesus said, “not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

Jesus’ words are so clear they’d put a Weather Channel forecaster to shame.  No “it’s possible” or “could” or “may” here. Just the certainty that He’s coming and the warning that we must prepare, watch and “be ready.”

Be ready with sins washed away in baptism, covered by the blood of Christ.  Ready with deeds that prove faith was genuine. Ready with a prayer on the lips and a song of praise in the heart. Ready to kneel before the King when He arrives.  Ready to move to an eternal home in Heaven.

No one can say they weren’t warned. No one found unprepared can legitimately complain that they didn’t have time to get ready; they’ve had a lifetime. Fail to get ready, and the devastation you will bring to your life will make the fiercest hurricane look insignificant.  A hurricane can ruin your stuff or even snuff out your life, but it can’t hurt your soul.  “Do not be afraid of [whatever] can kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” Jesus said in Matthew 10:28. “Rather,” He warned, “be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

If you’re not ready, now is the time to prepare.  More surely than a hurricane, Jesus IS coming, and He won’t veer aside or weaken at the last minute.  Get ready!

If you’re ready, help those around you prepare. For those who are ready, it’s going to be a great party. Don’t let anyone miss out!