Back in my college days I trained for a marathon. The day before the big race, I was nervous as all-get-out. Would I make it to the starting line on time in the crazy early-morning Chicago traffic? Would I embarrass myself by flaming out at mile twenty? Would I even be able to finish?
One of my roommates looked me squarely in the eye and said, “Court, you’re going to do fine. You’ve prepared for this.”
I thought back on every run I’d done for the past six months. The easy three-milers. The quick six-milers. The eighteen-miler that made me achy for days, but also proud.
You can’t get up off the couch and run a marathon, but you can get up and run a mile, and then another, and then another. Over days and weeks and months, the big race becomes a possibility. I became a person prepared to run a marathon.
Fleming Rutledge, in her book of sermons on Romans, writes of the tragic shooting that happened at an Amish schoolhouse back in 2006.
“That 13-year-old Amish girl, Marian Fisher, has lodged in my mind,” she writes. “She stepped forward and said, ‘Shoot just me, and leave the others go.’ … the Amish people … have their strengths and weaknesses just as we all do… But there is this to be said for them. In this terrible trial, they have proven themselves to be a people prepared.” (31)
In one of the most unthinkable tragedies imaginable, the Amish were prepared to forgive. Marian Fisher was prepared to give her life for her friends. Preparation is everything.
So what does it mean to for us to be prepared?
The author of Ephesians puts it this way, in chapter 6:
…put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
We must put on the armor before the battle. We must learn from the school of forgiveness before the tragedy. We must strengthen our legs before the race.
The passage continues:
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,which is the word of God.
Spending time with Jesus isn’t just for today. It’s to prepare me for tomorrow, for the unknown, for all that lies ahead.
Are you prepared?