This is a paradox that I have pondered many times. I plan for the future, yet my plans are often altered (and even hindered) because of past fears and selfish comforts. I sometime find it frustrating when the baggage of the past weighs on the whole concept of preparation. How can I adequately prepare, if I am manipulated by fears? How can I wisely get ready for potential discomforts, when my weak and selfish flesh always presses me for comforts?
I know that God is sovereign, and I also know by Faith that my future is in His hands. That, however; is another area where I sometimes run into a paradox in my thinking – If God has ultimate control of the outcome of my future, why should I be planning anyway? Why would God call me to prepare if He already knows what the future holds – and already has a plan and outcome set for my life?
I have asked the Lord this question often in my daily quiet time with Him. Early-on, I often struggled with the thought that preparation may be nothing more than a manifestation of my fear of things that I discern are coming. Why would I be called to prepare, if I am also called to live by Faith? If I am preparing, does that mean I am no longer living in Faith? After all, Faith is often going where we are uncomfortable and perhaps confronting giants with little more than a rock and a sling.
The more I walk through this preparation process, the more I find that God seems to be preparing me, rather than me preparing for some other outcome. He continually teaches me that many will not be prepared for some struggles ahead, and they will panic when the waves come – rather than staying focused on the Savior.
So, the preparation call seems to be as much an exercise in faith and obedience, as it is truly getting ready for a future calamity. I find that through the difficulties of preparation, I now spend more time looking to Him for guidance – and less time wondering if I have stocked enough ammo.
So, I have learned some things as I’ve traveled on this journey of preparation. I can’t say I’m pleased with what I’ve learned about myself, but I can say it has been quite revealing. In many ways it has exposed me to some personal vulnerabilities that needed to be dealt with.
I felt the “call” to prepare over 30 years ago. For the majority of that time I had developed assumptions about what preparation would actually look like; storing water, planting gardens, hunting, developing new survival skills, etc.
The fact is, preparation has been completely different than I imagined.
Preparation, is an act of obedience. God called Noah to prepare and build an ark so that he and his family could be saved. I’m pretty sure Noah wondered why he was called to prepare, especially knowing that he would look pretty foolish building a huge boat on dry land. I’m also pretty sure he felt humiliated as people confronted him daily and ridiculed him for his silly project. Ultimately, Noah was rewarded for his faithful obedience to his given assignment.
Here are some of the lessons I have learned in this journey. I will expound more upon them later:
- Preparation and Prayer should be INTIMATELY related. Never undertake preparation, without first seeking the Lord.
- Effective preparation will not be self-focused, but will always include others. Preparation serves the needs of others.
- Preparation is important, but is also very fragile.
- Preparation is based on Faith: It is the commitment to things hoped for in the future, and is based on the evidence of things visible in the present.
- Preparation does not determine the outcome of the future – but it does direct many actions in the present:
- Preparation is only partly a rational process. Discernment, faith, and calling all contribute to the preparation process.
- Preparation motivates us by pointing attention and effort to a hopeful outcome. It helps us shift from problems to find solutions, turn limitations to possibilities, and changes despair to hope.
- Preparation is often a value-based undertaking.