“Hurricane Ian’s uncertain path has all of us preparing” read a CNN headline Monday morning after the National Hurricane Center officially upgraded Ian from a tropical storm to a category 1 hurricane. This morning Ian is a powerful category 3 hurricane as it moves over Western Cuba and predicted to reach a category 4. And appears to be barreling toward Tampa Bay.
“Be prepared” are the key words we’re hearing from the news media, Florida Governor DeSantis and local officials.
As a result schools are closed in Tampa Bay, preparing emergency shelters. We’re constantly reminded to have an extra supply of food, water and medicine. Have power sources, like flash lights or a generator, in case of a power outage. And of course, stock up on extra batteries. In addition, secure your important documents including passports, wills and financial records.
We’re also advised to identify the location of emergency shelters. Clear the yard and patio of loose items. Have extra cash on hand. A full tank of gas. And listen to and follow the instruction of local authorities in the event of an evacuation order.
All of this speaks to the words repeated over and over when these events loom large, “Have a plan.” “Be prepared.”
It makes sense. Wise and prudent people prepare when there’s the potential of a powerful storm.
All of this, however, reminds me that too many have made little or no preparation for death. For eternity. For the salvation of their soul.
Experience tells us that hurricane Ian may not hit Florida. Or it may not come ashore where the weather experts predict. It could shift further into the Gulf of Mexico. Or it could seriously weaken before it arrives. Regardless of theses “maybes” our state and local officials are preparing.
However, the Bible affirms that there are some major life events which are not in doubt.
“It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Heb. 9:27).
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom.14:11-12).
“This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares” (Rom 2:16).
Just the possibility of a hurricane causes many to quickly spring into action. Empty shelves in grocery stores, drug stores and home improvement stores provide visual evidence of people’s state of preparedness. Then, if the hurricane is certain to smash into our coast, we think its foolish and irresponsible to ignore the threat, mock its danger and refuse to seek refuge. Of course, some do, to their own peril.
Yet, it seems that the idea of eternal preparedness is not taken as seriously. Do we think we can defy death? Escape the judgment? Hide from God?
To neglect spiritual matters is to put the soul in peril. The Hebrew writer rhetorically asks, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb 2:1-3). You might escape the wrath of the storm, but you will not escape the day of God’s judgment.
This is why God sent Jesus on a rescue mission from heaven to earth. He came to show us the Father. To give us a living, breathing example to follow. To prove once and for all the depth of the Father’s love. The riches of His grace. And the extent of His mercy.
Jesus through His inspired ambassadors, the apostles, left us a written plan to follow. A guide to weather life’s storms. An infallible directive that will insure our safe passage to the other side. Peter affirmed that we’ve been given “all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, (2 Pet. 1:3). So, there’s no excuse to be unprepared.
So, are you prepared? Prepared to meet God?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman