January 3, 2013
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Matthew 24:36-44.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In [those] days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be [also] at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus compares himself, the Son of Man, to a thief? What is he coming to take from me? It could be my sureness that tomorrow will come just as today did. As Barclay writes, “The most dangerous of all delusions is that there is plenty of time. The most dangerous day in a man’s life is when he learns that there is such a word as tomorrow. There are things which must not be put off, for no man knows if for him tomorrow will ever come.”
Which things then must not be put off? In what way must I be prepared to that I may be the one taken into the kingdom of God? Is it something to be done or a state of readiness? I’m always inclined to be doing something, to find a solution, to be in charge and in control. I don’t think that’s what Jesus is encouraging. He’s witnessed enough of that and I don’t think he’s very impressed. It makes me think of Mary and Martha.
I think he’s talking about my state of mind, my state of readiness, my state of relationship with him. What have I been putting off? My commitment to spend at least 20 minutes a week in contemplative prayer. A mere 20 minutes out of 10,080 that are at my disposal every week — that’s less than .2% of my time!
Why do I put off the opportunity just to be with him in silence with a calm mind, with a listening ear and an open heart? Why am I willing to schedule meetings and phone calls and workouts and other activities, but not make the effort to schedule time with him? Because I’m confident that tomorrow will come and then I can make time to spend with him. That’s what Jesus is warning me against. It’s not even that I may be dead tomorrow. It’s that the more I put off spending quality time with him, the more likely that my relationship with him will become deadened. It’s just like my relationship with others in my life.
He wants me to be unsure about tomorrow, to be uneasy about the state of my relationships, particularly with him. He wants to come to me but he wants it to be a surprise. It may not be the next time I pray in meditation or sing to him in praise or recite the Lord’s prayer. But, then again, it might. I treasure those encounters for the sense of delight, of peace, of refreshment. He’s telling me, though, that I need to spend some quiet time with him as well when the conversation isn’t only one-sided. He wants me to prepare myself for his coming to me today, not tomorrow. He wants to steal my sureness that tomorrow will come so that I will invite him today.