The church I serve is surrounded by military bases. Since the terrorist attacks on 9-11-01, security at the bases has been tight. When perform a wedding ceremony or pray at a retirement on base, I have to be cleared at the gated entrance. Sometimes my car is searched, and every now and then someone with military clearance has to escort me in. Once or twice my name has been missing from the guest list and I have had to call for help.
There are a few items I might be asked to produce when I arrive at the gate: my driver’s license, a current vehicle registration, a valid insurance card and a safety inspection receipt. If I don’t have these things, and the guards at the gate choose to, they can deny access.
However, where I live everything I need to get into a military base for a special occasion is also required to operate a motor vehicle. This means if I live in a constant state of readiness on a daily basis, I will always have what I need when it’s time to pass a base checkpoint.
The scriptures indicate Jesus’ return will happen without warning (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). But even if we had a little advanced notice, I don’t think our Lord would be pleased to find us scrambling around at the last-minute to get ready. Jesus said it will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, not frantically pulling things together (Luke 12:37). Therefore, it is imperative that we prepare now. It will certainly be too late on the last day, and if we wait we will also miss the joy in this life we are so determined to experience in the next.
When I was a child my Sunday School teacher taught our class a song based loosely on Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Virgins. We sang, “Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning, burning, burning. Give me oil in my lamp I pray. Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning, burning, burning. Keep me burning ‘til the break of day.” The message of the song was clear. We were to burn with the presence of Jesus in our lives, all of our lives, until His return.
Nothing has changed since I was a child. In fact, I am closer to my rendezvous with Jesus than I have ever been before. I’ve never been perfect, but since January 31st, 1966, when I walked forward in a Sunday evening worship service, proclaimed my faith in Jesus and was baptized, I have been ready: not perfect, but ready. Jesus said He would be ready for me. I want to do the same for Him.