What does it mean to be ready?

I could say, “I am ready for supper,” if I am hungry and it is approaching dinner time. Or, “I am ready to watch the Super Bowl,” once the playoffs have determined the teams and the big day has arrived.

Toward the end of one’s life, one might also say, “I am ready to die,” especially if one’s life has been particularly difficult or the individual feels a profound sense of completion.

This time of year, many are saying, “I am ready for Christmas.” Or maybe, “I am not ready for Christmas, depending on one’s state of preparedness.

To be ready involves at least a degree of foreknowledge, or more like enlightened expectation about a future situation or event. It involves mental, spiritual, and frequently physical, preparation of one degree or another.

Preparation for Christmas usually involves gift buying, decorating, party planning, and the like. Many prepare spiritually with Advent devotionals and special church services and activities.

In all cases, there is a degree of anticipation, but in the case of the coming of the Son of Man, there is a finality to this earthly life on par only with death but with optimism of supernatural proportions.

“You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” – Luke 12:40 ESV

The anticipation leading up to playing in the Super Bowl comes close to emulating this readiness, but even that falls short. The football players from two NFL franchises, having qualified for and won throughout the playoffs, have emerged to face each other in the biggest game of the year. Getting ready has included countless hours of practice and preparation leading up to and during the regular season. It combines dedication, determination, sacrifice, and focus on a physical, mental, and psychological level. For some, it is a once in a lifetime dream come true. For many, it is the culmination of a lifetime of work and devotion to a single-minded goal.

But at the end of the game, half of those playing will lose.

And then life goes on. Even those who win will wake up the next morning to an anti-climatic realization that the moment that culminated from the months and years of effort has passed, the goal achieved. Objectives must be redefined in its wake and future goals defined. But life goes on, goal to goal, highs and lows until finally succumbing to death.

For those who are ready, the coming of the Son of Man will signal the end of this earthly existence. Jesus will return, not merely to end a downward spiral of despair with its trials, pains, and pleasures, however, but to initiate the beginning of a new never-ending phase in life. This new reality will be in the presence of God, encompassed in His glory and free of pain and suffering of any kind.

Circling back to my original question, what does it mean to be ready regarding Jesus second coming? What preparation is needed before that time comes?

Of utmost importance is the condition of one’s heart. At birth, our hearts are stained by a sin-nature that separates us from God and destines every one of us to an eternity in hell.

God loved us so much that He sent Jesus into the world to be born and to die. Jesus’ death satisfied fully the requirements of the law, accepted by God as the completed payment of the debt owed by every human being because of sin.

God’s justice would not let Him overlook sin, but because of Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice, God’s forgiveness is available for all.

One’s preparation begins with the admittance of guilt before God and utter inability to save his or her self. We are entirely at the mercy of God.

Each one of us must individually accept God’s gift of salvation as payment in full. Nothing further on our behalf can add anything to what Christ has already done through the cross. A heart fully-humbled in this way is right before God, clothed in Christ’s righteousness, and ready for Christ’s return.

Once saved, an individual may further prepare his or herself for Christ’s return by reading God’s Word, fellowshipping with other believers, and engaging in activities that serve to advance a Kingdom agenda.

Recognize the temporary nature of human existence and eliminate psychological ties to material things. Live as much as possible for eternal rewards.

No one other than God knows when Jesus will return, so make sure that you are ready today. If you have never done so, pray and accept God’s gift of salvation before it is too late.

There is no better time than Christmas to refocus your life on Christ. Much in this life will end in disappointment, but a life lived wholly-devoted to God will not disappoint, not now nor in the life to come.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.