“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” [Luke 18:8]
Five days ago my life changed.
While studying Saturday morning, I was rudely interrupted by a newsflash, graphics and all, directing my attention to tropical storm Fay. All projections and reports indicated that the eye of the storm was going to hit the Florida coast right on top of the Cape Coral/Ft. Myers area. My wife and I have been here since the beginning of hurricane season, but frankly we have not been taking the “hurricane preparedness” talk seriously. That was until Saturday morning.
Within moments, I had Googled numerous websites about what and how (not why!) to prepare for such a storm. Having quickly jotted down a “preparation kit,” I grabbed my keys and headed out for the local Wal-Mart and gas station along with about 50% of the rest of the city (the other half presumably were smart enough to do this earlier!). Coming home with 12 gallons of water, a full tank of gas, and enough dry foods to last till Y3K, I felt like preparations were on their way.
Next came the family plan, then two trips to Lowe’s, one to Target, and once more to the gas station (for the other car). I laid out our emergency goods like a captain preparing his troopers for a blitzkrieg. Flashlights, candles, glow sticks, tarp, rope, rain gear, headlamps, etc., it was all coming together. Finally came the last major preparation: putting up the storm shutters–eighty individual shutters with over 200 screws. It is moments like this that I wish I resembled more of “Tim the Toolman” and less of “Tim the Blogger.” My oversized Phillips-head screwdriver barely made a dint into the seemingly never-ending task. Fortunately, two deacons and their kids came over with their fancy 18 volt (not 14!) DeWalt powered drills (kids had their own too) to help me out. After three days of tireless work, numerous trips to the store, and double checking the house, we were finally ready for the storm.
Fay (caveat: storm names are so deceptive; why in the world do people call storms with such innocent-sounding, harmless names befuddles me) came early Tuesday morning, but quickly we discovered that she veered east and south, missing us by some 50 miles. Hunkered down as though we were lost in some Dharma initiative, we neither lost power nor encountered a deluge. My feelings were mingled with disappointment and gratefulness–disappointed that all that preparation proved to be unnecessary, and grateful that the storm didn’t fit the fore-casted billing.
Nevertheless, I found myself in the darkened room thinking about the last five days. Prior to Saturday morning, I had no plans on going to Wal-Mart only to experience buggy-battles with impatient shoppers, no plans on spending hundreds of dollars on supplies, no plans on putting up storm shutters. With the revelation of an incoming storm, my outgoing presumption translated into a changing attitude of preparedness. I had repented. While I could not see or feel the effects of Fay, I knew she was coming, and simply the news of her trajectory landed me in places I would have never entered and buying things I felt I would never have needed. Simply put, I had faith in Fay. I acted on the information I was led to be true, and having been as prepared I could be, I sat with my wife and son and watched intently the radar and news reports with each passing minute, monitoring the weather trends and hoping for the best while prepared for the worst.
Fay has come and gone, but the whole preparation aspect of it still hasn’t left me. After all, I spent three times longer in preparation than in actual feeling the effects of the storm. But this got me thinking about the Christian life. I know that Christ is coming again, but what real difference is that making in my life right now? I have a much greater and reliable press release, and yet I find myself so often lulled into the status-quo of unpreparedness, procrastination, and presumption. Being in hurricane season, I did no feel it necessary to prepare until my life was threatened, but with Christ there is no season but the reality of his imminent return. Is that a more worthy motivation than the life-threatening implications of a storm?
When Fay came, she found faith on earth. I saw it in the grocery stores, at the gas stations, and in front of boarded-up houses. While she did not deliver what she promised, we treated her entrance with the utmost respect. In fact, if Fay could speak, she would perhaps recognize how much honor we have bestowed upon her as every watching eye of Southwest Florida was fixed upon her every spin cycle.
When Christ comes again, will he find such faith on earth? Will He find His people with such faith, such respect, such honor to bestow upon Him as seen in our preparation? My life has been altered by creation, but is my life being daily altered by my Creator? Indeed, Fay was a powerful storm worthy of some preparation, but is not He who can speak to such storms and cause them to be still worthy of much greater preparation?
Fay has come and gone, but Christ will surely come. Fay’s effects may be temporary, but Christ’s will last forever. While all the preparations for Fay may have been somewhat unnecessary, everything in this life is necessary for the coming of Christ. I have learned not to take the usual days of hurricane season for granted, but more than that, I have learned not to take any day provided by God’s grace for granted.
I want it to be said of me that my eyes were fixed to the eastern sky like Floridians were to their television screens. I want to go places I would not normally go and do things I would hardly consider doing because of the reality of Christ’s coming again. While the preparations have ended for Fay, the fact is the preparations for Christ are in season and out of season. For the one who is likened to a thief in the night, surely I should not be found rocked asleep by the fading lullabies of yesterday’s clear skies and perpetual calm.
It’s easy to say I have faith in Christ, and these past five days have shown me how fickle it can be. There will come a day when the One who calms the storms will come for me, and on that day, I pray He finds me with an oiled lamp under my feet and a faith that forbids me to forget the news, the good news, that all that I have prepared for will never be in vain.