I am a planner. I love my lists. I love my agenda. I get great satisfaction from crossing things off the "To Do" section. The smoother my day goes, the more I cross off, the more competent I feel. I do not go with the flow. I am not spontaneous. I do not like surprises. I like to be prepared. I like to know what is coming so that I may envision my possible responses well in advance.
I identify greatly with Saints Peter, James, John and Andrew who asked Jesus when and how the end would be signaled, to which we have part of His response in today’s Gospel. (Mark 13:24-32). They too wanted to be prepared. They wanted to know when and where and how everything would go down. Even with Jesus giving us all sorts of clues and signs to look for, we won’t know when the end of time is coming, nor will we know when the end of our life will occur.
I tragically lost a sweet childhood friend this summer. The only redeeming aspect of her death was that she lived her life, every day, as though it could be her last. She was a Christian who devoted her life to spreading the message of Jesus Christ. She lived and worked overseas with her husband and son. At her memorial service they played an audio clip of her talking about what it was like to live as a missionary, and there was such joy in her voice as she spoke of her life so clearly devoted to Him.
She didn’t look for signs of the end times. She found Jesus in the everyday. She spread the Gospel through her actions, through her interactions, through her simple words and deeds.
There is much in daily life for which we can prepare. We can prepare for a birthday party or a special date. We can prepare for the first day of school or a big day at work. We can prepare for a vacation. But that is preparation for living in this world, not in the next. Preparation for the end occurs in the mundane routine, daily prayer and the little sacrifices. There are times when I say "no" to loved ones because it doesn't fit in my obscure timeline. Preparing in a way that matters means saying yes to love and letting go of my agenda. It means saying yes to His agenda.
Let's not let preparing for this life get in the way of preparing for the next life. Lay aside your to-do list for today and be open to the Holy Spirit. How can you say "yes" to love today?
Dr. MaryRuth Hackett is Director of Operations for Blessed is She and host of the podcast Parenting Smarts. She loves historical fiction, dark chocolate, watching her children play soccer, a good cup of coffee (decaf please) and the quiet of the early morning. She holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and has a passion for helping parents understand the way their children grow and develop. You can find out more about her here. She is the author of our Blessed Conversations: Leader Guide found here.