The horrific loss of life and property caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 caused the entire world to grieve. As I watched the news coverage, I heard multiple survivors describe the events as happening ‘suddenly.’ The tsunami caught hundreds of thousands off guard. There was no warning. As they went about their day in paradise, none of them expected their world to turn upside down by the end of that day.
The Sunday after the tragedy, my pastor asked our congregation a pointed question. “Are you ready for the suddenlies?”
Have no doubt. ‘Suddenlies’ will appear in each of our lives. Perhaps not to the destructive degree as a tsunami, but they will happen. Car accidents, disasters, tragedies, unforeseen unemployment or sudden illness. At that moment, within that sudden split second, we won’t have time to stop and plan our strategy. We will have to think on our feet and plan as we run. When our lives spin out of our control, are we prepared? If not, how can we be prepared?
That Sunday, our pastor read the parable of the wise virgins who kept their lamps full of oil and wicks trimmed so they could use them at a moment’s notice. They realized they needed to stay alert. They readied all the provisions they needed as they awaited their Bridegroom.
The oil in the virgins’ lamps represents the Word of God. How well do you know the written Word? How easily do you recognize your Master’s voice? Do you take heed of his faithful friend’s joyful announcements that he’s coming soon?
When running from an enemy, or attempting to control a car on an icy street, or facing a sudden personal crisis, you don’t have time to listen to a podcast, Google a how-to article, or attend a seminar. At such times, you can only grab hold of what you have already learned. Is your lamp’s reservoir filled with the oil only available through worship, Bible study, prayer, and times of intimate prayer?
During the tsunami of 2011, the Japanese people had an advantage over previous victims. Japan sits on a major fault line, and as a result, the nation poured billions of dollars into a tsunami early warning system. Those closest to the earthquake’s epicentre had mere minutes to respond to the howling sirens that immediately followed the 8.9 magnitude earthquake. The shell-shocked survivors of that earthquake had to take immediate action if they were to escape the incoming flood.
Those who survived did so because they implemented earlier instructions given by their nation’s emergency preparedness agencies. They knew the sound of the warning siren, they immediately obeyed its call, and they headed toward higher ground.
Unfortunately, dozens of physically disabled and elderly people lost their lives because they could not evacuate. However, officials speculated that hundreds of Japanese needlessly lost their lives because they ignored the warning. They lived under the delusion they knew better than the officials. They dismissed the need to prepare and the need to recognise the warning signs. Living in their here and now took precedence over preparing for a likely future event.
God gives us plenty of opportunities to prepare our hearts for the unexpected but it’s up to us to take advantage of those opportunities. We can’t do so if we have allowed our hearing to become muffled by pride, assumption, and self-sufficiency.
Do you keep the wick of your lamp trimmed? Do you regularly fill that lamp with his oil? Are there areas of disobedience and pride you have not yet addressed? Is it your habit to obey the Lord’s directives instantly? Do you believe the mandates of the Lord are negotiable? Do you submit to his leading even when it is inconvenient to do so? Now is the time to improve those areas you in which you fall short.
When the ‘suddenlies’ hit, you won’t have time to learn to recognize God’s voice. He longs for a deeper connection with you and has been relentlessly pursuing you. Now is the time to become intimately acquainted with that voice.
Nothing takes God off guard. He is always one step ahead of our finite understanding. He goes before us; he stands behind us, and he holds us close to his heart. Yes, we need to do our part and prepare for the suddenlies – but not from fear of an uncertain future. Ask the Lord to awaken a hunger deep in your heart to recognise the voice of your beloved. And then, respond to his call to meet him in the secret place. He has much to show you in that place.
Did you know that the Daily Christian Quote website has over 5500 quality quotes that you can search by the Author’s name, special occasion, or subject? Check it out.
Don’t forget. Follow me on Facebook. You do not need to send me a friend request to follow me. However, I do welcome friend requests if you message me first to say you know me from the website or email list! Here is the Facebook link.
If you are coming here from Facebook, you might not be aware that you can receive these weekly devotions via email. Sometimes, Facebook doesn’t show my links to these devotionals, and so you might not see when I post something new. How to fix that? Sign up for my weekly email that not only includes a devotional but also seven quotes from prominent authors, speakers, and heroes of our faith. I do not use this mailing list for any other purpose!
All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
Until Next Week
2019 Katherine Walden
Sign up to receive a weekly emailed devotional by Katherine by using the following form.