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Monday, October 26, 2015

You ready?

As another wave of storms swept through the valley over the past three days, they came with quite strong winds and what some call "micro-bursts" of storm activity.  These micro-bursts have the capacity to dump a lot of rain at once in seemingly one spot, combined with high winds which do significant damage.  Block walls were leveled, power poles snapped in two, and trees uprooted.  It seems like the storms lately have become more and more "aggressive", taking their toll on the neighborhoods where they hit the most.  It also seems like there are areas of our large metropolis where these storms hit with such frequency that people are constantly "bouncing back" from them.  Some areas were hit with nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain, while others enjoyed a steady rain most would consider nothing more than sprinkles.  Close to 30,000 customers were without electrical power for over one day.  At first this doesn't seem to significant in the face of things like Hurricane Katrina or the raving effect of tornadoes in the Midwest, but Arizonans just don't expect the "worst". They don't plan for it, nor do many of them actually know what to do when the "worst" actually does come.  I guess we all have a tendency to live life like this on occasion - not really believing the "worst" may happen, so failing to be in a place of readiness should it happen.

Those who obey the Lord are daily in his care, and what he has given them will be theirs forever.  They won’t be in trouble when times are bad, and they will have plenty when food is scarce.  (Psalm 37:18-19 CEV)

There is a way to live life prepared for any and all inevitabilities - those we see and don't see coming.  The weather forecasters predicted three days of rain - some heavy and some just enough to wet the parched earth.  They revealed the storms left great flooding and mudslides in their path as they made their way through neighboring cities in a neighboring state, but did their predictions change the response of those in their path?  If you looked at those who were affected by the storms in the metropolis in which I live, I'd have to say "no". The way they were living just before the storms began to hit didn't really change - there was no sense of preparation or even any belief they'd need to prepare.  This is how it is with many people in this day and age - living as though preparation was not necessary - in a physical, financial, and spiritual sense!

That place of preparation is found not in a "place" as much as in a "person" - Christ.  As my pastor puts it, we learn to live "prepared" lives when we place our faith, hope, and trust solidly in Christ and nothing else.  Those who obey the Lord are daily in his care...  This says it all - there is no better place of "preparedness" than to be daily in the care of Jesus.  It doesn't mean we don't save our finances so we are prepared when a need hits us such as an unexpected medical bill or car repair.  It also doesn't mean we don't "do" anything with the knowledge we possess about the grace and love of God.  We are called to live prepared lives and that means we make Christ central in our physical, financial, relational, and spiritual lives.  In all areas, he is central.  In all areas, we then stand prepared.

What does "fire insurance" do for us?  It helps us rebuild our houses if there is a disaster which results in fire damage to our homes, right?  It is there for the "what if" of life.  In most cases, people just rest a little easier because they have it, not ever expecting to actually use it. The same might be said of "flood insurance" and "life insurance".  We don't expect to use it, but we have it for the "just in case" type of occurrence.  With the exception of life coming to an end for all of us, most of our other types of insurance are not typically collected upon - we pay the premiums faithfully and then we never make a claim.  We did get peace of mind by having them for the "just in case", but we never really actually needed them.

I wonder how many people go through life treating their relationship with Jesus as though it were "fire insurance" - there to keep us out of hell, but not really laying "claim" to all this relationship means.  My father was a life insurance agent with a large insurance firm for years.  He was a certified life underwriter - he wrote policies designed to insure lives.  Those policies didn't change the outcome of death to those who bought them - they just made it a little easier for those left behind to go on without that person in their lives.  They provided some financial benefit to the survivors.  The life insurance didn't benefit the one whose life was covered, but those who would come after them.

I wonder if this is how Jesus expects us to treat the "life insurance" his grace provides in our lives - by helping others who come after us to meet, know, and follow him.  Grace isn't an "insurance policy" - it is a means by which we live our lives to the fullest and then pass that blessing onto others.  Yes, grace provides a means by which we escape the separation from God which sin ultimately maintains.  Yes, grace provides us with access to the many blessings of God.  Yes, grace is a kind of "insurance" against our continued separation from God - because it not only covered our past sins, but those we commit today and into the future.  But...grace isn't just "insurance" - it is a means to live our lives to the fullest, prepared to face each challenge, and igniting a passion within us which in turn helps ignite the spark of faith in others which will ignite their own passion for serving Jesus.

We don't prepare for the inevitabilities in life through "buying insurance" - we prepare for them by actually "preparing".  In other words, we buy the flashlights, batteries, and generator to prepare for times when electrical power may not be available.  We aren't doomsday prep kind of people, but we live prepared lives.  This carries from our physical lives into every realm of our walk - finances, relationships, and even into our spiritual lives. We need to learn to live prepared!  Just sayin!