The greatest lesson that you will learn in life often occurs right before your eyes in real time. There are billboards and bulletin boards that points us to what we need to do and see. This is not an accident. Let me give you an example in real time that I am sure you can relate to. Notice the picture of the sign. This sign has been placed near my neighborhood in the same spot every year. What I want you to pay attention to is the part that says, “BE PREPARED!”
This sign was design to alert the community to begin preparing for the season that we were
about to enter. Like many people, I had chosen to ignore the sign. After seeing it for so long, I had become numb to this warning. It had just be come a sign like all the other political signs along the road during this time of the year. However, what I do know is that sometimes God will use a physical sign to get your full attention, to give you a spiritual message.
A couple of weeks ago, when I initially heard the news that hurricane Ian was headed toward Florida, my mind flashed back to the sign near my neighborhood. No matter how many times I saw the sign, I was convinced that I still had enough time to prepare. Truth is you never have as much time as you
think. Things had changed in a matter of days. I delayed going to my favorite gas station, and when I finally decided to go, I realized the original price was no longer available. I found myself in a line around the block. Trying to avoid the same mistake of being unprepared, I immediately went to my local grocery store, and again there were lines with some empty shelves. I became upset with myself, knowing that I was like so many people in that store. We were not prepared; we were preparing. It was here, in the mist of the chaos, where I found a seat and sat down.
It was a teachable moment for me, and I was not the teacher. I observed the tension and anxiety on the faces of the people. All of us were in the same boat. We had a need, but we had to wait. This process raised many questions for me. Why do we ignore the preparation process in our life? Is it because we want to get back to our normal life as quick as possible? We see things as a one-off event. Even if it occ
urs year after year, we act as if the event is new. We will see crisis coming and just ignore it. Often, we have not prepared because of the “here and now” mindset. Some things will either happen sooner or later. However, regardless of this fact, we need to be prepared.
I can tell you that for those of us who are pastors/teachers, sermon preparation is not an option but a must. It usually takes one to three days to prepare and write what you are going to present. After that, you need at least a day to pray and mediate on what you have prepared. This is the part where the Holy Spirit breathes on what you have written.
When you go to the dental office, there is a preparation process before you can see the dentist. You must prep for surgery before you see the surgeon. Before the construction of a house or building, the soil must be prepared, along with other required buil
ding permits, all which are a part of the preparation process. Most teachers always have a lesson plan. These plans are looked over and fine-tuned prior to presentation to the students. This is part of the meat and potatoes of teaching, hence the many teacher planning workdays. Politicians prep before they debate, and even athletes prep before they compete. The main reason to prepare is so that you can have a road map of where you are going and how you are going to get there. Being prepared gets you ready for the potential unexpected, and there is always something you do not expect.
Back to the sign. Notice it never said that a storm won't come. It just emphasizes to be prepared. The next crisis is always just around the corner. The reality is that we can never be completely one hundred percent prepared. Just like some people will choose to ride the storm out, we often will make choices in the preparation process to ride out our own storms.
The cone of uncertainty
Hurricanes are real and should be taken seriously, but at the same time they are not unusual. I always had a sense of confidence when I was prepared for anything that I had to deal with - personal or public. There will always be some storm in our lives, and each will have its own category. However, here is what will change the direction of your storm: your faith, your prayer life and the promises of GOD. This is how you prepare! Remember the story of Jesus speaking to the wind and the rain. These elements heard the voice of our master and ceased (Matthew 8:23-26).
Some storms are designed to stretch your capacity to handle what God has in store for you. Your preparation indicates to what degree you are paying attention to the directions given on the signs in the journey of your life. Preparation strengthens the belief that success is not only possible but also probable; there fore, BE PREPARED!
Newton Fairweather is the pastor of Faith and Joy Church and the CBMC Fort
Lauderdale Board Chaplin.