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The Wisdom to be Ready

“I never saw it coming.”
“How could this happen to us?”
“It seems like he became a completely different person overnight!”
“She just woke up and flipped out one day.”
These are sayings I have heard over and over again in my 30 years of ministry as people’s lives are seemingly taken by surprise. To be sure, there are times when the truly unexpected hits and forces us to adjust on the fly. More often, however, the surprises of life are predictable transitions for which we were unprepared.
We know intellectually that a marriage changes roughly every seven years because of predictable social and physical changes. How many of us plan for these changes? It has been demonstrated that our parenting style needs to change when our kids enter school and again when they enter puberty and once again when they graduate from high school. How many of us deliberately make the changes ahead of the transition? The bible clearly states that family patterns are passed on from generation to generation unless focused effort is applied to change the trend. How many of us honestly evaluate the influence of our families and choose which ones we want to keep and which ones we want to replace? We also know that all of our bodies are going to change in our forties and fifties. How many of us put a plan in place to adjust what it means to stay active and healthy in the second half of life?
This is the point of Isaiah 21:1-5. Calamity was scheduled to strike against Babylon. The signs were in place. Danger was imminent. Anyone who was looking would be able to recognize that difficulty was on its way. Anyone who believed the danger was real, would prepare. Those who denied its potential would carry on as if nothing was happening. Verses 1-4 spell out the difficulty that was about to hit. Verse 5 exposes the attitude of those in charge, “They set the tables, they spread the rugs, they eat, they drink! Get up, you officers, oil the shields!” When they should have been preparing for battle, they were partying. When they ought to have been readying themselves for conflict, they were celebrating. As a result, once they recognized the trouble, they had to scramble to get ready.
I know I cannot avoid all the surprises of life but I certainly want to be ready for the ones I can predict. I am in the time of my life when I am transitioning from productivity to influence. I am not as strong as I used to be and my body is certainly not as cooperative as I am accustomed to. I am, however, a lot wiser than I used to be. I have a much clearer perspective on what I do well and I am okay with admitting what I am not so good at. I am much more aware of what doesn’t work than I was twenty years ago. I realize in my mind that I need to rely more on my wisdom now than on my physical abilities. If I can translate that into actual decisions and activity, I can make the next twenty years my greatest time of impact on others.
If I fail to prepare and assume I can keep living like I used to, I will become painfully aware of my limitations and panic over the new expectations of influence that will naturally be put upon me by others.
So, for today, I am asking God for a willing heart to prepare before I need to panic!

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