There is a story told of a sailor that had been put on restriction and confined to his cot. He thought it was unfair, but couldn’t do anything about it. “At least,” he thought, “they can’t take my birthday away.” His birthday was coming soon and that thought kept him strong. He thought about ways to celebrate, hoping that he would be off restriction by then. If nothing else, the knowledge that it was his birthday would be a pleasure in the midst of restriction. He fell asleep with a smile on his face the night before his birthday and woke up to discover that the ship had crossed the International Date Line in the middle of the night and they had really skipped his birthday.
You have to feel sorry for a guy like that. When we have a special day coming, we often make plans to get the most enjoyment out of them. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, homecomings, and other days like this get the festive treatment. Some days sneak up on you though. The return of Jesus is one of those kinds of days. We’ve had groups that have thought Jesus was coming and tried to prepare, only to be disappointed as the days passed without His return. What will that day that Jesus returns be like? “For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:38-39)
I’m amazed at people whose eyes glaze over knowingly when they hear the phrase “just like the days of Noah.” They’ll usually shake their heads and then say something like, “Oh, we’re living in those days now.” Exactly right. Of course we are. Jesus described those days as perfectly normal days when people didn’t realize that the flood was coming, and had probably laughed at Noah building an ark in the process. Those were days of eating and drinking and starting families, if you take Jesus at His word. Nothing was different about those days that would have indicated that a flood was coming. Well, except for that ark in the center of the town square, and that crazy old coot had been working on that for years. We look for signs that Jesus is coming again and earlier in this chapter when Jesus talked about signs, He mentioned them and then added, “But that’s still not the time.”
Getting ready for the return of Christ is really a simple concept. We live for Jesus every day. The fact that the message is simple doesn’t make it easy, though. Jesus gave the example of a servant who got tired of his master’s delay in coming home, so he started drinking the family wine and abusing his authority over other servants. It’s easy to slip backwards if your faith is built on a certain event such as the Second Coming and it keeps being delayed. Will Jesus come again? Yes. I have no doubt about it. I have no idea when that will happen though, so I don’t center my faith and my daily life around it. I center my daily life around living for Jesus each day. Somedays I don’t do so well. Somedays I do better. I’m not perfect, but even on my bad days I focus on serving God by living for Jesus and sharing His love with others. Jesus described the faithful and wise servant as the one whose master finds him doing the right things when he returns. If that’s true, and I believe it is, the best way to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus is to live out each day to the fullest, honoring and serving our Lord and Savior. If you do that, you don’t need to make special preparations for the return of Jesus: you’ll be ready.
Oh Lord, it would be so great if I could know the day that You’re coming and I could prepare a proper homecoming. Since I don’t know, let me live each day for You and show Your love to others each day.