This month, my husband and I will bring home a long-anticipated gift. To say that we have gone through the checklist to be as prepared as possible would be an understatement. The nursery furniture has been carefully assembled. The clothes, blankets, and covers have been delicately washed and folded. The words of countless books and devotionals have been fully digested. The hospital bag and diaper bag have been packed and carefully checked. The car seat has been appropriately installed and inspected. The freezer has been packed full with ready-to-eat meals. Rockers, bouncers, and play mats litter the impeccably clean home. We know not the day or time that Baby will arrive, but we are prepared. When something is long anticipated, you prepare for it.

    There are many events in the human experience that require careful, calculated planning and preparation. The happily engaged couple plan out every last detail of their wedding. The eager teacher plans the layout of his room and the lessons that will happen within it. The anxious young adult dots her i’s and crosses her t’s as she approaches graduation. The exhausted family labels strategically packed boxes in anticipation of moving day. As the day approaches, we prepare. When something is long anticipated, you prepare for it.

    We diligently prepare for these important, earthly events—the birth of a child, a wedding and the marriage that follows, a new school year, graduation, moving. Do we just as diligently prepare for the coming of our Lord and Savior on the Last Day? In Mark 13:32–37, we are reminded to “stay awake” in preparation for the Last Day:

    “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

    We know not the day or time that He will arrive, but we prepare. When something is long anticipated, you prepare for it.

    We seem to be so confident in the steps it takes to prepare for important earthly events. Comprehensive checklists of such events are just a Pinterest search away. But how do we prepare for this most important hour? The Last Day. Judgment Day.

    Out of my own curiosity, I did a quick search for such a list: “preparing for judgment day.” What I found was doom and gloom. Ideas included things like . . . make sure you are right with God, live a good life, stop sinning. Well, shoot, we may as well call it Doomsday if that’s what I have to do to prepare myself. Because I know that I can’t check off the items on that list.

    Thankfully, the Bible has a different “checklist:”

    • Repent & Enjoy God’s Gifts

    As people who live in a fallen world, we know that we are sinful. We also know that this is the very reason God sent His Son Jesus to earth to live, die, and rise—for our forgiveness. The familiar words of 1 John 1:8–9 are one reminder of the forgiveness we receive in repentance.

    “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    Freedom from sin is not something that we can earn for ourselves; it is freely given to us through Jesus’s work on the cross. God’s gifts of The Word, Baptism, and The Lord’s Supper remind us of this freedom we have in Christ. We are privileged to receive the gift of The Lord’s Supper along with the whole Christian church as we faithfully go to Worship.

    • Be in The Word

    We diligently immerse ourselves in God’s Word as we prepare for His coming. In Romans 10:17, we read:

    “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

    Since the Holy Spirit works faith in us through God’s Word, we make daily devotions a priority. We participate in Worship on a regular basis. We search God’s Word when contemplating life’s challenges. Reading, knowing, and using Scripture regularly equips us for the earthly struggles we face. Ephesians 6:13-18 reminds us of how powerful God’s Word is:

    “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”

    • Be a Witness

    When we experience the realities that come with freedom from sin, and when our faith is strengthened through the hearing of God’s Word and by receiving His Sacraments, how can we not share the corresponding joy that comes!? This charge is given to Christians in the words of the Great Commission from Matthew 28:19-20

    “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

    When preparing for the important events of our lives, we generally don’t keep our excitement to ourselves. We invite others to celebrate with us (showers, invitations, save-the-dates, celebrations, announcements, etc.). So why would we not also do the same as we prepare for this most important event of the Lord’s Coming.

    We can see that Google had it all wrong when it comes to a “preparing for judgment day” list. Scripture shows us that Christ has done the work of preparing us for His coming. Now, with Job we can wait with anticipation and declare (Job 19:25–26):

    “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.”

     

    We know not the day or time that He will arrive, but we prepare. When something is long anticipated, you prepare for it.

    © Concordia Publishing House

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