“Therefore be ye also ready…” – Matthew 24:44
“I stay ready to keep from having to get ready.” Did you ever hear someone say that? It’s a good policy. We all know it’s easier to keep a house clean by doing a little something every day than it is to start at the point of chaos! Yet, how many of us conscientiously follow that regimen? In the case of housekeeping, the consequences may not eternal, or even life altering, but this is not true in others. For instance, in the parable Jesus gave in Matthew twenty-five of the ten virgins, the five foolish ones missed the bridegroom because they weren’t ready in time.
You’ll look in vain for a reference in God’s Word telling us to get ready, but numerous ones telling us to be ready. Be ready to give and answer about your faith, when asked (1 Pet. 3:15); be ready to give of your finances for the Lord’s work (2 Cor. 9:1-5); be ready to preach the Gospel, if God has called you (Rom. 1:15); to be ready with good works (1 Tim. 6:18 & Tit. 3:1); and most important of all, be ready to offer ourselves in death, when the time comes (2 Tim. 4:6); or as the last part of Matthew 24:44 says, be ready to see Him, if Jesus Christ returns before we die.
When I think of being ready, I’m reminded of the back burners on a stove, the ones not meant for preparing food, but simply for keeping it warm…and ready. Let’s apply these characteristics of a back burner as I point them out. First, as I said, a back burner is for food already prepared. Unless you want to spend a very long time waiting, don’t try to start from scratch on one of them. I’ve heard the Christian life described as a crisis that becomes a process. It’s a “new birth” that begins a process of maturity. Whatever preparation of heart may precede it, the birth itself is complete and final, needing only maturation.
Second, if the food is kept warm, it only takes a minute or two to heat it all the way up to the perfect temperature for consumption. (If you’re like me, you like good, hot soup.) And if you give it a good stir, the process works even faster. If you’ve been spending time alone with God daily, absorbing the wisdom and principles in His Word regularly, the answer you need and the warmth of Holy Spirit power will be close at hand and heart.
Last, but not least, the whole idea of keeping food warm on the back burner is to feed someone that’s hungry, because you never know when that “someone” may show up. It may be family, friends, or even a perfect stranger, but everyone, everywhere, is hungry for one thing or another at different times in their lives; and the man or woman who will most likely have what they need at that particular is the man or woman who’s had food for the soul on the back burner, for a long time.
Now that my husband doesn’t have a busy, public ministry that brings him home at all hours, and my children are all gone, I don’t have to keep things warm on the back burners of my stove very often; but the fire of my “Spiritual back burner” always needs to be burning…low, but steady. I want to be ready with a word of hope or exhortation, a song of praise, or a helping hand. I want to be ready…always ready!
“The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.” – Lev. 6:13