Kind of ironic because it’s already Wednesday, and I meant to write this on Sunday. My week thus far has actually been overwhelmed with a whole lot of things that would probably be going a lot more smoothly if I had bothered to prepare for them.
Was thinking about this last night as I hopped in the shower sometime after 11 (again, the preparation thing kind of lacking, but each project sort of rolled into the next and yeah, that’s how it went).
Preparation, I thought, is key.
And I thought dutifully about all the things I really ought to be doing, all the ways I could be preparing for Advent and generally improving my spiritual life and being a better person, you know, the kind with deep thoughts and good habits and maybe a cowl.
So, there I am scrubbing shampoo into my hair and trying to remember Bible passages that deal with preparation so I could maybe satisfy the nagging sense that I really haven’t been up to scratch lately (ever), and it eventually led into a quick word study because I could only really think of one passage, and it wasn’t about us at all.
Here’s the thing. Most of the time in the Bible when people are preparing for something, they’re cooking dinner or setting up a guest room or planning a party. There are exceptions to this, of course, but the vast majority aren’t what we would call super applicable to Advent.
But, I started noticing something kind of interesting about God: He also cooks dinner and sets up guest rooms and plans parties.
His are just way better.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heart, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (I Cor. 2:9).
“In my Father’s house are many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).
And, it occurred to me that maybe when we talk about being prepared to walk with God, the best we can really do is prepare to be loved.
Though it may be harder than we think. Sometimes we get this funny idea that we wouldn’t have any problem accepting a good thing, and maybe it would be easy to accept a free car or something tangible like that (though I would imagine we’d be scanning the fine print pretty suspiciously), but when you’re talking about a gift that also comes with a relationship, one that is both intensely personal and invisible… well, most of us can’t actually fathom that without thinking there must be strings attached—like becoming very serious about sin and being apologetic all the time and quick to talk about the desperately wicked condition of one’s heart.
AKA preparing to be perfect.
Which seems pointless and distasteful the longer I think about it.
Even those good works Christians are supposed to be doing? Yep, God actually prepares both us and the works in advance (Eph. 2:10). Which is kind of uber fabulous, because it means that God’s goal may not even be his work so much as having us participate in his work.
The difference between an executive, say, and a mom baking cookies with her kids.
Or maybe it just comes down to how stressed out you think God is. I know lots of people who seem to think God’s about ready to go into cardiac arrest over our sins 24/7. Somehow, I just doubt that.
Preparing to be loved. Expecting to be comforted. Receiving every gift. Willing to be a part of whatever the next thing is. That’s about it.
I think I can handle that.
Although, given this week, who really knows.