Get ready now because you won’t have time later

Yesterday evening started out like a normal Sunday night. I was getting ready for my workday in the morning (packing up goody bags for Christmas presents, if you must know). My folks were doing their own thing in another room.

That’s when a huge clap of thunder rattled the house.

We live in Kansas. A thunderstorm isn’t necessarily unusual–but a thunderclap that loud in the middle of December? That’s a bit strange. Even for us. But I wasn’t prepared for what I heard next: Dad shouting from the living room that our county had just been placed in a tornado warning.

A tornado warning? Seriously? Not just a “hey, watch out because you might get some bad wind” sort of a thing. But a Tornado Warning, which usually means there’s a tornado on the ground, and you need to get to shelter almost immediately (after you run outside and take pictures of it).

I dropped everything I was doing and verified that he was right. Yes. Big glaring red spot on the radar map. Heading straight for our house.

Of course.

Click for Video of the December 14, 2014 Tornado

Click for Video of the December 14, 2014 Tornado

The next thing I did? I grabbed my backpack from the corner and took it downstairs to the basement. My backpack has everything that really matters to me in it. My laptop with all my latest writing, and my flash drives with all my latest backups. Then, I put on my shoes and helped my mom carry down some valuables. Then, I went outside with Dad and watched the crazy amount of lightning.

And then, because I’m a hard-nosed, vicious, uncaring farm person, I grabbed my outdoor farm kitty (the unflappable and ridiculous Amelia Pond) and brought her inside to the basement too.

Just as we all got settled, waiting to jump under the stairwell with the twin mattress off the guest bed on top of us–the National Weather Service canceled the warning.

And that was it. We got some wind. More lightning and thunder. A bit of rain. But the rest of it went around us, or it died out before it got to us.

Some folks who don’t live in Kansas might think we were overreacting, but you don’t screw around with night tornadoes. Just like rain-wrapped tornadoes, you can’t see them, and you have to rely on the Doppler indications. By the time they’re close enough for you to feel the pressure drop in your ears, it’s probably too late.

Now, was it weird to have a possible tornado less than two weeks before Christmas? Sure. But it’s Kansas and anything can happen. Heck, they’re forecasting snow on Wednesday.

What I’ve learned after 20 years of living in this crazy, bipolar state is that you never take the weather for granted. Here it can change in the blink of an eye, and I’ve discovered that dyed-in-the-wool Kansans usually live very simple lives. Why? Because their material possessions may be blown away in a tornado a week before Christmas. If you live here, you have to be ready to dive into a shelter at a moment’s notice.

You have to be ready.

(not the tornado from yesterday)

(not the tornado from yesterday)

Today’s verses are Matthew 24:42-44.

“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

If you are a Christ-follower, you should know that this world isn’t our home. We’re just passing through. We will live forever in a place that God made for us Himself, but we don’t get to go there until Jesus comes back to get us.

The problem? We don’t know when He’s coming.

When you’re waiting for someone and you keep waiting and waiting and waiting, it’s tempting to lose focus. I mean, you’ve been waiting for so long, it feels like you’ll never stop. And then you start wondering if the person you’re waiting for is actually coming. What if you’ve been waiting for no reason? What if you’ve just been wasting your time watching for someone who never intended to come get you in the first place?

Christians, living on Earth with that mindset is like not believing that there can be a tornado at Christmastime.

That’s not to say that Jesus won’t take you if you aren’t ready. No, if you belong to Him, He’ll take you home when He comes back. But wouldn’t you hate to leave this life with unfinished business? Wouldn’t you have to leave people you love behind? Wouldn’t you hate losing your most precious possessions–your friends and family–because you didn’t take Jesus seriously enough?

Be ready all the time. Never stop watching for Him. He’s coming. Like a tornado at night. You might not be able to see Him coming, but you see the indications that the time is getting closer.

So don’t take it for granted. Don’t weigh yourself down living a complicated life with too many things that don’t matter. Live focused. Live simple. And secure the things that you never want to lose–like your own soul and like the souls of the people around you.

He’s coming. Nobody will expect Him. He’ll just be here. And then you’ll be gone.

Get ready now, because you won’t have time later.

The mailbox between the road and the driveway yesterday morning at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The world is not enough

I get tired of the world. I get tired of living in such a broken place, where what used to be good is now called and what used to be bad is now called good. I get frustrated because I know things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. Marriages aren’t supposed to break up. People aren’t supposed to hurt each other. The things that are broken in the world were never intended to be broken, and it’s easy to get depressed thinking about it.

I hate to see people hurting, and I get so tired of having to overcome obstacle after obstacle in my own life when I don’t feel like I’ve really done anything to deserve it. You know? You live the way you’re supposed to. You read your Bible. You keep the faith. You treat others the way you want to be treated. You love God. You love people. And everything still goes wrong. Why is that? What point could there possibly be to living like that?

I got to thinking this morning that if everything went our way, we could be pretty comfortable down here. Aside from the obvious strengths we gain when we go through struggles, what we need to remember when life falls apart is that we don’t belong here. We weren’t made for this life.

The mailbox between the road and the driveway yesterday morning at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The mailbox between the road and the driveway yesterday morning at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Philippians 3:20-21.

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

Some days it’s easy to remember that this world isn’t home. On those days, I would like nothing more for Christ to descend from the clouds and take us away. But then there are other days when I’m not thinking about that. There are other days when I’m pretty happy just where I am, with no one rocking the boat, with nobody reminding me of any higher purpose, when it’s just me and the world and I’m okay with that. And that’s not a good place to be.

Don’t misunderstand. Being content is important. Being content with what you have is essential. But being content is different than being comfortable. We shouldn’t be comfortable in the world because when you get right down to the heart of the mater, the world isn’t going to agree with people who follow Christ. And while I blogged about agreeing to disagree yesterday and how that’s all right (and it absolutely is), disagreement still causes conflict. It always has; it always will. And if your perspective isn’t shaped by the grace and love of the Holy Spirit, many times a disagreement is going to turn to outright anger and resentment. If you know your history, you know it’s true.

The world disagrees with us. Part of the world resents us. And the rest of the world hates us. And, just being real here, the parts of the world that don’t hate Christ followers yet, soon will. Why? Well, the Bible says they will. Because the world hated Jesus, so why would we expect different treatment when we are His followers?

It’s good to be content with what you have, with what God has given you. But that doesn’t give you permission to be comfortable. Being comfortable means you’ve settled in for the long haul. It means you’ve got your head down. It means you’re ignoring the signs around you that are trying to spur you into action. Being comfortable means you’ll stop growing, stop learning, stop seeking, stop trying. Being comfortable means you think the world is enough.

And to quote James Bond, “The world is not enough.”

We aren’t supposed to have a comfortable, easy life on Earth because Earth isn’t our final destination. Christian, do you get that? We aren’t supposed to hoard all our money and resources so we can sit back in our easy chairs with our remote controls and our cups of coffee and watch television all day long. We were designed for more than that.

I get comfortable. I have that dubious gift of being able to block stuff out and power through with my own goals and ignore everything else around me, and it’s not always a good thing. God put me here for a purpose, and as long as the world is broken, He has something for me to do. And if I’m so comfortable in my own little kingdom, I’m never going to venture out into the places where He wants me to go.

So take a good look at your perspective this morning. Are you angry because life isn’t working out the way you thought it would? Are you frustrated because the obstacles in your path seem unfair and inversely proportional to the life you’ve lived?

Good. Because the more uncomfortable we are, the easier it is to remember that this world isn’t our home.

So get your head up. Pay attention. And get uncomfortable.