My wife Stephanie is a Chiropractor. When we have snowy weeks like this, I wonder if it was such a great idea to have her office in our home. Out of consideration for her patients, I spend a great deal of time on days like today plowing, shoveling & sanding; and I’ve built up a set of tools, practices, skills and resources appropriate to such efforts. Without them, I would not be able to do what needs to be done to support her and her patients in a timely fashion, let alone have time to complete my newsletter article for ARK Church!
One of my favorite movies is Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” a story in which each main character’s super-strength is also their weakness. They are so used to employing their strengths to solve any problem that they are at a loss when their strengths are no longer sufficient for the challenges they face. But, right when all of the individual crises of the main characters peak and collide, a wise friend tells Helen Parr (aka Elastigirl), “Luck favors the prepared.”
This coming Sunday’s lectionary reading from Isaiah 40:21-31 includes the well known words: “…those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength…” And, Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 9:16:23 include: “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.” Likewise, in Mark 12:29-39, we Simon Peter and some of the other disciples coming to Jesus while he is praying, saying “Everyone is searching for you.” He replies “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.”
To me, all three of these readings from the Lectionary, and the movie, speak of the importance of being prepared. This is certainly true in my own situation – my own strength is not of much use without a shovel; and no matter how flexible I might be, it doesn’t prevent a patient from slipping on the ice!
Isaiah told us to “wait upon the Lord” because it renews our strength – making us ready for the tasks ahead. Likewise, Paul devotes a great deal of thought, effort and prayer to “become all things to all people” and so be ready to minister as needed when he encounters others. In neither Isaiah nor First Corinthians are we given a laundry list of specific things to do. Rather, we are told to be prepared. Jesus also prepares: He prays, and only then is he ready to go forth and “proclaim the message” as he is called to do.
It wasn’t luck that made Paul a great evangelist, nor was it luck that Jesus’ ministry grew as it did, nor were the Jews simply lucky to survive the banishment to Babylon in Isaiah’s time. Luck had nothing to do with it – if we are not prepared, no amount of luck will help us do what needs to be done when the opportunity arises. They were all prepared, and so were ready when the time came.
This past week’s Annual meeting was just such a time of preparation, as are many of the other activities of ARK Church. Likewise, the upcoming season of Lent is a time of preparation: a season of somber contemplation and prayer as we prepare for the Joy that comes with Easter.
We are not lucky people, we are prepared people.
Copyright (c) 2015, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved. I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)