“Be prepared.” “Are you prepared?” “You may want to prepare for challenging times ahead.” It seems, now more than ever, we hear warnings to get our houses in order. Those of you who consume a steady diet of news probably hear this sentiment more than anyone; and there is no shortage of our favorite YouTube content creators spreading a similar message. Get ready.
My initial response to these warnings is to put my fingers in my ears and sing loudly to drown out those warnings. Preparation sounds like suffering is ahead and who of us wants to think about suffering? So, if you react similarly to such messages, you are not alone. With that said, even us go with the flow, it will all work out type of people still need to pay attention to the warning signs. The world is changing, and we need to prepare for what may be on the horizon.
This is not a post to evoke fear or worry. Not at all. This is just a gentle reminder to us all that the safest approach to the future is always preparation. We prepare for speeches and tests. We prepare for childbirth. We prepare for inclement weather. And we should prepare for emergencies. As the famous saying goes, “A failure to plan is a plan for failure.” – Benjamin Franklin
We talk a lot about preparing for marriage (and this post is no different ~smile~), but lately there seems to be an urgency for other types of preparation as well: practical preparation and eternal preparation.
- Prepare for marriage. It would be nice if marriage was the never-ending date we all wish it could be, but it is more like a journey. There are smooth places, mountainous terrains, and unmarked roads. Before heading out on a road trip, we have our oil changed, fill the tank with gas, buy food and supplies, pack for days, and save addresses into our GPS. You can dive into marriage and hope for the best, but the fun does not last as long as we would like. Soon you will both get hungry and run out of gas.
- Read a lot. There is no shortage of books out there about marriage, relationships, and personality types. We have certainly read our share and we have a few we assign to the couples with whom we work. While reading about marriage, do not neglect to read the best marriage book: the Bible. Read it cover to cover. Read it repeatedly. Study Jesus. The more Christlike we are, the more Christlike our marriage will become.
- Talk a lot. Leave no stone unturned and no subject unexplored. Once you know you are interested in marrying someone, ask the tough questions, and prepare to answer tough questions. Marriage will throw you plenty of curve balls and every plan you make will not work out perfectly, but the more you know about yourselves and each other, the fewer surprises you will have to endure after you enter into covenant with each other.
- Pray a lot. Pray for wisdom. Pray for guidance. Pray for provision. Pray for each other. Pray for growth in godliness. Even if you feel sure you are “supposed to marry” this particular person, bathe your decision in prayer and fasting. There is no better way to spend our time than in the presence of the Lord. Sometimes it feels like our prayers are hitting the ceiling and not reaching God’s ears. Yesterday, I heard an evangelist say, “Pray until you can pray, and then pray until you have prayed.” Some of the simplest and most profound advice I have heard in a long time.
- Prepare for interesting times. “There is no shorter road to defeat than by entering a war with inadequate preparation.” – Charles Lindbergh. We are experiencing an ever-changing world and there is so much we cannot control. Thankfully, our God is sovereign over everything and that includes our lives. Along with preparing for a good marriage, we recommend preparing for troubled seasons – and soon. As you prepare to build your home together, consider starting your life with an emergency stash of various supplies.
- Purchase water and a non-electric water purification system [e.g., Berkey], extra food with a long shelf life, and/or order an emergency food kit.
- Purchase additional toiletries, batteries, and other supplies you might need.
- Consider diversifying your money (e.g., fiat, crypto, gold, silver, etc.). Have an emergency fund. Keep some cash in your home.
- Buy extra food, water, and supplies to have on hand for others who may not be as prepared as you during hard times.
- Consider buying a generator, camping “appliances” such as a sun oven, and other camping materials.
- Emergencies arrive when least expected and it is wise to be prepared.
- Prepare but do not fear.
- “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (I Peter 5:6-11, ESV)
- “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 22:3, ESV)
- “Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” (Proverbs 24:27, ESV)
- Prepare for eternity. We are wise to prepare for married life and for interesting times, but nothing is more important than preparing for eternity. Our time on earth is fleeting.
- “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:13-14, ESV)
- “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18, ESV)
- Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Jesus told his disciples in John 14 that He was going to prepare a place for His people and coming back to get His people. Preparations are underway and we cannot imagine the beauty of Heaven (cf. I Corinthians 2:9). Heaven is for the prepared. For those who have repented of their sins and placed their faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.
- The Great Commission has not expired. We are told to preach the gospel to all people and to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). The time is short, and we are surrounded by lost people who need to hear about the hope we have in Christ.
- “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (I Peter 3:14-16, ESV)
- “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44, ESV)
- “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11, ESV)
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. (2 Timothy 3:1, ESV)
We are blessed that God not only sent Jesus to take on the sins of the world, but that He has filled Scripture with warning after warning. What is happening around us in our culture and in every part of the world is not surprising in light of the Bible.
We are fortunate to have easy access to God’s living and active Word (cf. Hebrews 4:12); and we are wise if we read, internalize, and obey it. We can approach the uncertainties ahead with the attitude that God will help me when the time comes. He will provide. Or, we can heed His warnings and use the wisdom He has given us to prepare for times of difficulty. He is Jehovah Jireh. He is our Provider, and His provision is not always supernatural manna found in the desert. Often, His provision comes through alerting us and giving us access to what we will need.
Keep reading those marriage books, talking about your relationship, and praying about your future together. And, while you pick out furniture and curtains, pick out some canned goods and survival gear. We hope we never have to use those emergency rations, but it is wise to have them just in case. And, more than anything, keep preparing your heart and mind for eternity. We will all spend eternity somewhere.
What will you and your partner do this week to begin (or continue) preparing for the future?