Sunday, February 22, 2015

Am I prepared....enough?

Here in Michigan's Upper Peninsula ("U.P."), we like to think of ourselves as hardy people with a can-do spirit; tough, independent and prepared for whatever life brings.  After all, winter in this part of the world can bring mountains of snow, sub-zero temperatures and significant wind chills.

Within all of the above though, there is incredible beauty, a peacefulness and a sense of belonging to God's beautiful creation.  We have a park nearby with perfect sledding hills and it is pure joy to watch the children fly down the hills with whoops of joy and then watch them trudge back up so they can do it all over again.  Love those rosy cheeks and colorful snowsuits.

Many of us like to ice fish or head to the ski slopes or strap on the cross country skis; and then there is my personal favorite, snowshoeing.  My husband, in partnership with 2 others, owns a lovely piece of land in the middle of the woods, on which sits a log cabin.  (They built it from the wood off the land...like I said, inventive people we are!)  It is a "hunting camp" (hunting being a major deal up here in the U.P.) and Charlie's camp is very rugged.  It has no plumbing or electricity but does have an outhouse!  It is a very cozy place, with a wood-burning stove, gas stove and gas lights, and ample sleeping space for hunters.

A couple of weeks ago Charlie and I decided to spend some time at camp, just the 2 of us; it was something of a brief reprieve from a lot of things going on in our lives.  We strapped on the snowshoes and headed out.  My husband knows this land like the back of his hand and could almost ski, snowshoe and hike the trails blindfolded.

It was so peaceful with the snow gently falling.  We saw signs of life all around us....deer tracks, scat (a fancy word for animal "poop"), a squirrel leaping through the trees, and even an insect crawling on top of the snow!  (unusual, to say the least).  Charlie tutored me on the use of my compass and taught me how to pick out a spot to pitch a tent, should I ever need that information.  (Can you tell he was a Boy Scout leader for many years?)  I had a lesson on the use of a tiny camping stove...where to look for dry branches and how to use all of that equipment to melt snow.  PREPAREDNESS.  He was teaching me how to take care of myself in God's beautiful creation, how to be prepared out there in the woods.

It's really good to learn those skills.  It's good to know how to be prepared to handle a lot of life experiences.  We prepare for a new baby by getting a nursery ready and by learning about the birth process. We get ready for school by purchasing supplies. We get ready for marriage by getting a marriage license and planning a celebration.

However, to my mind, the MOST IMPORTNT PREPAREDNESS of all is our preparation for our eternal life. Eternal....that means forever!  We put energy into planning trips/vacations, right?  What about that final journey?  The one everyone will make.  How is it that some folks leave preparation to "chance" but will put major energy into planning experiences that are momentary and not lasting?

In John 14:3 Jesus says, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself that where I am you may be also."  Jesus is talking to His disciples and they are confused.  They are asking Jesus "How can we know the way?" (vs. 5)  Then Jesus tells them clearly how they will find their way.  He says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Jesus Himself says....faith in Him (Jesus) is THE ONLY WAY to know God, our heavenly Father, and to live in heaven with Him.  If we deny that statement, then we are assuming Jesus is a liar or is something of a lunatic.  Because I settled in my mind long ago that the Bible IS Truth, I believe Jesus' statement to mean exactly what it says.  There is no other way to "interpret" that statement, especially since there are many, many other scriptures throughout the Bible to support that Truth claim.

I don't know about you but I am really, really thankful that my God is not up there in the heavenly realms, keeping score of my "good" versus my "bad" behaviors.  I'm sure somewhere in my life, I have managed to break every one of those 10 commandments.  (No, I have never murdered anyone but I have certainly "murdered" a reputation through gossip.  How about #3...the one about having no other gods...I'm quite sure I have valued other things or people more than I have valued God...see what I'm saying here?)  Jesus says He has prepared the way for us!  When we follow and love Him, we are assured we are PREPARED for that final and best journey of all.  Since we don't know exactly when that journey begins, perhaps right now is a good time to give this some serious thought.  Are you ready?  Are you prepared?

It is not complicated.  No one needs to have perfect knowledge of all scripture; we don't need to jump through "hoops".  It is as simple as:  A) Admit you are a sinner in need of a Savior; B) Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and died for you; C) Confess your desire to make Jesus Lord of your life and ask Him into your heart.  Not complicated. What God looks for is a truly repentant heart and an  authentic desire to embrace Him through His Son.

I would love to hear from anyone who has questions or who has prayed this prayer for the first time!  Through Jesus, life  has purpose in the here and now...and heaven awaits!

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