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Saturday, 5 May 2018

Be prepared!

Although I was a member of the Boys' Brigade (and the Lifeboys, before they became the Junior Section of the B.B.), and held every rank except Sergeant and Captain, I have always liked the motto of the 'rival' organisation, the Boy Scouts: "Be Prepared".

I've been thinking of that motto over the past couple of weeks! There is a long story behind the situation, but we ended up agreeing to host a 14-year-old French pupil for just over a week, in order that her English language skills might be improved! What we didn't realise, at the beginning, was that this involved some formal tutoring - 20 hours! - as well as informal conversation. 

Well, I didn't spend all of those years in the classroom for nothing! So, a week or so before our guest was due to arive, I started gathering up what I decided would be appropriate lesson material. Then, last Friday, she was brought to our home by her mum. Lessons commenced shortly afterwards - and I discovered that I was not as well prepared as I had thought! She was much more advanced than I had been led to believe! I only wish that my command of her mother-tongue was as good as her command is of mine!

That why this blog has been neglected for so long. I have been kept busy preparing more appropriate lessons - on top of all of the other demands on my time (like preparing to preach, in French, on each of the next two Sundays!).

All of this has caused me to think about the preparation that each of us must make. Yes, I'm back to the topic of physical death. First of all, it appears to me that many do not even bother to make preparation for that inevitable event. In some cases, as I mentined recently, it is because of the "ostrich syndrome". "If I just bury my head in the sand, and cannot see it, this won't happen!" Others have decided that, while death is inevitable, it is also nothing more than annihilation - when we die, there is simply nothing!

There are many other attitudes to death, but the one that makes most sense, in my opinion, is that of the Christian faith. Please note that I did not use the word 'religion'! Religions are man-made. Both the Christian and Jewish belief systems have been revealed by the Creator God - YHWH Sabaoth; the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob; and the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, the Christ. In the Christian faith, there is a simple truth: that "... it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment," (Heb.9:27). This life is not a "practice run". This is it!

So how prepared are you for that final judgment? Perhaps you are one of those who believes, sincerely, that if you chalk up sufficient "positive marks" to out-number the "negative marks" that you know you desreve, all will be well. Perhaps you think that if you give enough to charitable causes, that will ensure your entry to heaven. You may even believe that being a church member or, better still, office-bearer,  will attend to the matter. Sadly, that is not the Biblical position! Not one of us can work, earn, or buy our way to eternity in God's presence. 

Commenting on Ecclesiastes 9:1-9, David Robertson writes: "He [the Preacher] is saying that death comes to all, indiscriminately, good or bad: ... ... Death is not an accident – it is an appointment which only God can change or cancel. He [the Preacher] is not saying that we are to live passively or that we are not to prepare. But he is saying that it is only God who knows the future."

Of course, there are others who take the attitude of the rich man in Jesus' parable. Their philosophy is one of "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry." (Lk.12:19). However, the parable continues: "But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'"

Be prepared! But ensure that you have made the right kind of preparation! It's not simply a matter of life and death; it's a matter of your eternal destiny! 

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