Blizzard Jonas stepped into our backyard last night, leaving a deposit toward what promises to become a couple of feet of snow, at least. Mark is taking advantage of the morning lull in the storm to blow off what he can. It’s hard to believe the forecast given this quiet, but they say winds will whip in at 40 mph and a slushy middle layer yet to come will down trees and power lines. Everyone is hunkered down, expecting the worst.
Two days ago, half the town was out stocking up on bread and milk and fuel and batteries. The township phoned with warnings and tips for preparedness. We are READY for the storm!
In Matthew 16, Jesus chides the Pharisees for being more able to predict the weather than the signs of the times. His coming inaugurated the “end” or the “last days” – the last era of history leading up to the final judgment – and he wanted his followers to be ready!
I will leave the interpretation of signs to others better qualified to do so; I’m more interested today in what to do in the meantime. St. Paul says we know the end will come without warning when we least expect it, so we should be prepared even when it’s the farthest thing from our minds (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3). And like those phoned-in warnings from the county, the Lord left us with a “preparedness list” to help us:
1. “Trade with [what I’ve given you] till I come” (Luke 19:13).
In the Parable of the talents, Jesus tells of a nobleman who goes to a far country to receive his crown. He leaves his servants with money to invest in his absence, and on his return rewards them based on what they’ve done with what they were given. His reason for telling the parable? Those listening “supposed the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.” The point? Don’t drop everything and wait. Make the most of what God’s given you! Put it to work for the kingdom. “Be fruitful and multiply,” he might have said, as God said to Adam and Eve. Until the day that he comes, we are here for a reason.
2. “Let your light so shine before men…”
“…that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Thinking about the “end” can be scary, especially if you focus on signs of a coming storm. The signs Jesus outlined in Matthew 24 (wars and rumors of wars, tribulation and cosmic chaos) are frightening. Modern-day “prophets” are quick to point to rising persecution as a sign of the End. It’s tempting to hide – but then where is the light, that we are here to shine into the world? Like Esther’s uncle told her when she was faced with putting her own life on the line for the sake of her people: “who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
3. “Do not be anxious” (Matthew 6:25)
A storm may come, but God has your back. He cares for those he loves. St. Paul elaborated on this, speaking to times when it might not seem to us that God is watching: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him” (Romans 8:28). He is a Master at bringing good from evil, life from death. Witness the Resurrection! That same power is active in us who believe. (See Ephesians 1:19)
4. Encourage one another and rejoice! (1 Thessalonians 5)
This tip comes from St. Paul, who reminded the Thessalonians that whatever the future, Christians aren’t destined for wrath but for life with and through Jesus. “Be at peace among yourselves,” he said. “Admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all…. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances. […] He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5 is a wonderful chapter to pray your way through, asking the Lord to speak into your life and situation.
The snow is falling hard now, and the wind is picking up. I’m glad we prepared, but the way we’re hunkering down and doing nothing is a stark contrast to what Jesus calls us to in our lives, as we wait for his return. I’ll use the extra time this weekend to think:
- What have I been given, to “trade with” – to invest in others – in the time I have before me?
- How can I shine my light?
- When the storm comes, will I trust in God and give thanks and praise, focusing on how to help others?
“He who calls [me] is faithful, and he will do it”!
© 2016 Sarah Christmyer