James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Having just planned, prepared and executed a wedding as the mother-of-the-bride, I can now testify that has to be one of the most overwhelming tasks that I have ever undertaken. I am still suffering from post-traumatic wedding syndrome that makes me twitch at the thought of having two more daughters. It was not a lavish affair even maybe considered small compared to most of the weddings and receptions of today. It went off without a hitch and the kids have deemed it the “perfect” day. Hallelujah! Mission accomplished.
When our son-in-law asked for my husband’s blessing, it was not the beginning of the process. I have two sons and three daughters. My sons did not spend their entire life dreaming about and planning to become a groom, but girls innately desire to become a princess bride one day. Understandably, this may not have been the ideal time to insert such festivities in our life. If we have learned anything through our son’s battle with cancer is that we live in each day as the gift that it is. Throughout the process of preparing the nuptials, I began preparing handwritten lists and Excel spreadsheets to make sure no detail was missed. Files were made of contracts, agreements and timelines. In the beginning, it seemed that this whole wedding planning thing was a piece of cake. I really thought the hard part would be paying for it. But as the day moved closer on the calendar, things were hectic and crazy. I woke up with a wedding list and went to bed with one. Thanks to Pinterest, I never wanted to see another can of spray paint. Gold glitter pops up to this day around the house even in my gym shoes. This day had to be perfect for our little girl. We wanted it to be everything that she dreamed about her entire life. This wasn’t just any wedding – it was going to be one of the biggest days of her life. They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…you can add this one to the list.
When your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete needing nothing. This is how God sees our future. Jesus died to make it so. The Holy Spirit leads us not into just enough or a better day. The goal is that our life will measure up to the “complete and full standard of Christ.” Am I ready? I want to be. I try to be. I hope to be.
Matthew 22:14 (NLT) Many are called, but few are chosen.
I heard a song by Plumb yesterday that is one of my favorites. It is called “Lord, I’m Ready Now.” I have heard it before and thought the same thing then that I do now. I am ready. I want all that God has for me right now. I want to do all that He called me to do … right now. Faith needs to grow. Endurance stretched so that we can be ready. So naturally, after a tough time or growing experience – it is only natural to assume that we must have learned something through it all and there must be a reward on the other side. There is. We just may not be ready to receive it yet. As I read the parable about the man who prepared a wedding feast for his son, I got that twitch. You know about planning and preparing a wedding. (Matthew 22:1-14) The man thought everything was ready, but then no one showed up. Our venue for the reception was limited in capacity. My daughter married a PK (preacher’s kid) which means the extended family becomes expansive. We could only invite a select number of people which gave us a heavy heart but according to the state fire code was required. When we initially sent the invitations, only a few RSVPs trickled in. I panicked a little that maybe no one was coming. (Laughing on the inside right now.) Anyway, so the father of the groom sent out messengers to remind the guests of the great wedding feast. They still did not come. So he extended the invitation to the people in the city. When the people came to the feast, they had made no preparations beforehand wearing their everyday attire. The man was insulted. It was an honor to be invited to the feast yet they took it for granted like just another meal. It was his son’s big day. How dare they have such disregard? They were not ready. Many were called, but on that day few were chosen to actually enter in. Sometimes we think that we are ready, when we really are not. This is not a problem with us but the potential of our blessing in Him.
John 13:36-38 (NLT)
Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.
Peter was about to encounter a setback. Peter thought that He was ready to lay down his whole life for Jesus Christ. Jesus knew better looking into Peter’s heart. This would break his heart. Jesus was not done with Peter but still preparing him for the great ministry that he was promised. The Lord knew that He was about to die for Peter. Peter was only human. He could not see the end from the beginning. His faith needed more time to grow. He needed a bit more preparation. The promise was not delayed and the vision was clear, but the appointed time had not arrived because one day Peter indeed would die for his passionate pursuit of Christ. In the beginning our walk with Christ, we are enthusiastic and zealous to be with Him and follow the Lord all the days of our life. Faith requires endurance because our ways are definitely not His Ways and our thoughts must be changed and aligned with God’s. This is a process that takes time. We cannot comprehend it all at once. In fact, there are some things that we will never understand but do by faith. It is living the life of a believer day in and day out no matter what comes our way that is the challenge. As I prepared for our daughter’s wedding, it seemed so far off until it was upon us. It will be that way in our walk with the Lord. It will seem like His Promises will never get here. When they do, there may still be some challenges to overcome because our life is being completed and perfected which are not natural terms but supernatural potentials. Human nature may not fully grasp what God is doing but we must live in constant preparation for when He comes.
Luke 12:35-38 (NLT)
“Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.”
Be ready. Be dressed for service. I think we have missed the meaning of this sometimes. Peter Jesus as a man was not a question – there was no doubt. It was a faith question. Did Peter believe in the deity of Jesus? When Jesus was arrested and it was rumored that He would die, Peter denied Christ. When we live as a Christian part of the time, but do not establish our life as a believer then we are not ready. It doesn’t really matter how much I go to church or how often I serve or even how much money that I give if I am not ready to meet the Lord when He comes. When the Lord comes to meet us it is personal and intimate. He is looking to see if we really believe that He is our Savior and Lord enough to commit our life to Him. His Word tells us what to do…am I doing it? His Way is clear. Am I living it? His Will is perfect. Have I submitted to it? Am I ashamed of the Gospel of Christ? When He knocks…there will be no one to answer “my door” but me. Will He be pleased? Will I be ready? I want to be.
I Peter 1:3-5 (NLT)
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.
In the days preceding our daughter’s wedding, there were days when it seemed like the appointed time would never come and others when it was arriving too quickly to fully accomplish all that we needed to do. Never in my life have I felt so much stress and pressure mixed with excitement. When the day did finally come, it was perfect. It exceeded our expectations and more importantly the happy couple’s. I think that in our walk with the Lord it feels the same way. There are days when we don’t think He will ever come and days when we hope that Jesus waits a little longer. This whirlwind relationship that we are in seems too good to be true. It is that good. It is that true. God’s timetable unfortunately does not always align with our own but it will be worth the added preparation and extra effort to be found ready when it does come. Like the groom’s father in the parable, God wants everything to be perfect when Jesus comes to claim His Bride. Isaiah 65:1 says that the Lord is ready to respond to us but people just aren’t ready to seek His Help. We must learn to live in a state of readiness that is not that hard to accomplish. The qualities and characteristics are defined by our faith in God through Jesus Christ and not our current situation. There were times in the process that our daughter would say that she didn’t feel like a bride yet. Well, she wasn’t until that freezing day in November when everything fell neatly into place. Take a deep breath. Breathe out the stress and worry of this process called refinement. God is making your complete and perfect lacking nothing. Prepare to receive that blessing no matter how things look today. Most of our daughter’s wedding was planned at the bedside of our son. Paul wrote most of the New Testament in prison. See God’s Plan and Potential for our life includes every detail of it. (Romans 8:28) You may not “feel” ready but just the fact that you are diving into His Word, calling on His Name and trying to understand this crazy thing called life from His Perspective means that you are on the right track. Grace covers our mistakes. Mercy gives us a reason to keep going. Faith will get us there. We may not be ready right now…but the Promise is true and real for those who want to be, try to be and live to be. I am beginning to believe the more ready we are that the less ready we feel.
2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NLT)
In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.