MAKING PREPARATIONS TO FINISH WELL
One of my (Dawn) professors in college used to say, “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.” I feel confident that she said that to college students who took advantage of the many and varied activities a college campus offers and failed to do well on her assignments, if they did them at all! And by “they” I mean, “me.” My first run at a college degree was not a successful one mainly for this reason. I had no idea of the necessity of preparation and how key it is for success. It’s easy to understand this when it relates to personal development or career advancement. We have a goal. We make plans and preparations to accomplish that goal. But are there spiritual implications to preparing, as well?
Here’s what my friend Jean Fleming says about spiritual preparation in her book Pursue the Intentional Life. “I’m taken with the frequency of the word “prepare” in the Old and New Testaments. To prepare is to advance-work toward an end. Embedded in Jesus’ injunction to “watch and pray” is a call to spiritual preparation now for what one may face in the future. Solomon evidently agrees. He repeats his warning to look ahead and make adjustments: ‘The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty’ Proverbs 27:12, see also 22:3. As I think about my remaining years, about possible challenges and opportunities, I make mind and spirit preparations. Desiring to face what comes in His strength to His glory, I set pegs and drive stakes. I ponder His Person and truth. I wonder, What choices made today will enable me to finish my course with spiritual vigor? Is preparation key to the art of living Christ to the end? Not that I expect to sail through hard times untouched. But I trust God that my advance-work will give me a body of content to return to in challenging times, content to draw me to God, His promises, and His purposes.”
Preparations must be considered if we intend to finish well. If we intend to finish the race of life victorious, then we have to think about what’s needed, what adjustments must be made and whose counsel and coaching will be helpful. We have to think about which practices need to “go”, which need to “stay” and which need to be developed into a habit. It is not likely that we will stumble across the finish line of life having accomplished all that we could have without giving careful thought to these things. We will finish, but will we finish WELL? And since we do not know when our finish line will appear before us, shouldn’t we consider these things sooner rather than later?
Jesus gives us clear instructions in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Worry is dwelling on the uncertainty of tomorrow and the challenging circumstances that surround us. It is a “fear generator.” Fear drives us into panic mode or immobilizes us with paralysis. Preparing considers the uncertainty of tomorrow, and taking action today ensures that the main things of life remain the main things.
Making preparations to finish well is grounded in the truth that this world is not our home. Our true home awaits us in heaven. There our Savior will greet us with open arms and we will finally be relieved of the trials and tribulations of the race we’ve run. My mentor, Linda Jo Powell crossed her finish line in June of 2022. She was a STRONG advocate of making preparations. Her favorite question to ask was, “How are you preparing your heart for…” That could be anything on the horizon - Easter, Christmas, becoming a grandparent, entering menopause :) She often shared Scripture from different translations and it was helpful in my learning. Matthew 25:23 in the New Living Translation says this, “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ Picturing this celebration at the end of my race inspires me to stay with my preparations and to remain faithful with whatever He’s given me.
Scott & Dawn Smith