Preparation - Jesus Style

There's only 2 weeks left before I leave, which means I have begun to think about all the things I need to do to "get ready." I've started making a packing list and thinking of all the details I'll need to remember. Questions have been randomly popping up in my mind, reminding me of things that are essential to successful travel. "Where is my passport?" "What time does my flight leave?" "Which suitcase should I take?" "Will I need a rain jacket?" "Do I have enough spending money?" "How many outfits should I pack?" All these questions and many more all lead up to one main question: "AM I READY FOR THIS?"

With this Sunday being Easter, the events leading up to the crucifixion have been on my mind this week. More than ever before, I'm challenged by Jesus' level of preparation as He walked into Jerusalem, surrounded by crowds of people, ultimately headed to the cross. (Well, technically He rode in on a donkey, but you know what I mean.) Jesus was not surprised by the sheer number of people surrounding Him, shouting "Hosanna!" Or by the fact that those same people were no where to be found when it came time to stand up for what they believed in. Jesus didn't just go to Jerusalem planning to celebrate a feast but actually ending up on a death march carrying a cross. This wasn't some horrific coincidence, or even a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jesus knew what was coming! He knew what He was doing, and He was prepared. His preparation didn't come in the form of wearing the right clothes, talking to the right people, or even any sort of physical training. It wasn't about being noticed or having enough money to get out of a jam. Jesus was prepared because He knew the will of God and the ultimate purpose behind His actions. Now, I'm no theologian. But if I had to guess, I would guess that a big part of the reason Jesus was ready for this moment was that He was in the habit of communicating with God. Long before Jesus headed into Jerusalem on a donkey, He was getting up early in the morning to pray (Mark  1:35) and confronting temptation with the Word of God (Luke 4:1-13). Jesus was prepared on a deep spiritual level because He spent significant time communicating with His Father, developing that relationship. Even in those last moments before He was arrested, Jesus was talking to God, being honest about His feelings and committing Himself to God's way, no matter the cost. "Abba, Father," he said, "every this is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will" (Mark 14:36).

I want to be prepared too. Let's be honest. If Jesus, (the Son of God who lived a PERFECT, SINLESS life) needed to spend time praying and studying scripture, how much more should we be spending time doing the same? Compared to what Jesus was walking into, spending two weeks in another country (or even moving there) seems like a piece of cake. But the honest truth is it's not. It will be hard. There will be moments when I feel empty and overwhelmed. Plans will fall apart. The key to preparing for these challenges is to develop open communication with the Lord now. Not once I have my suitcase packed. Not when I board the airplane. Not when I finally get to the islands. Now. This isn't a new concept for me. I've known for a long time what a quiet time is and why we should have one each day. The disconnect has been a matter of discipline (or lack thereof) in my life. I have a tendency to get so caught up in doing "good" things and investing time and energy in ministry that my priorities shift, and I end up neglecting those intimate moments with the Lord. This is ironic because, when it comes down to it, that time with the Lord is what energizes my soul for the ministry I'm called to.  You'd think I'd have learned this lesson by now, but alas, I'm still working on it!

Ultimately, I'm not sure if I'll ever be "ready for this," but I know the Lord is. All I have to do is make sure I'm on the same page with Him, and everything will work out in the end. First step to getting on the same page: spending time with Him. It may not always be easy. It definitely wasn't easy for Jesus. But it's a challenge I'm taking seriously; because, when it comes down to it, I want to be more like Jesus.
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