Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Be Prepared

When it comes to socializing or leisure time, I don't mind flying by the seat of my pants. When it comes to important and serious parts of my life, however, I like to have a plan. It doesn't have to be an exhaustive plan or a far-reaching plan or a rigid plan. I'm OK with flexibility, and I'm willing to change my plan when circumstances change. But I like to feel like I have at least some handle on what's going on, that I have a strategy that will help me succeed. I like to feel prepared.

Some people might say that I'm fooling myself with all this planning. I don't have any control over most of what happens in this world or even in my life. I don't know whether my house will be burglarized, whether someone will steal my identity, whether someone I love will die in an accident, even whether I myself will wake up tomorrow. I don't know how to put enough money away to provide for my family's future. I'm not even quite sure how this year's finances are going to turn out—there are so many variables. To a planner, all of this may seem a bit depressing. Am I really just throwing myself into the arms of fate and hoping against hope that everything will turn out OK?

Yes and no.

While it is true that I can try to take certain precautions, I can never be completely prepared for any eventuality. I could spend hours worrying myself sick about the weaknesses in my financial portfolio or the gaps in my education. Or I could call to mind some soothing words of Jesus: "I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? . . . Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:25–27, 34) 

After all, didn't Jesus send his disciples out with no provisions at all? "Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt." (Mark 6:8–9) Yet, is it fair to say that Jesus sent out his disciples unprepared? Were the ready for this incredible journey? Yes and no. They certainly didn't have a detailed plan for any eventuality, but they had an overarching faith that guided them. They were prepared in a more general sort of way, and all of us can emulate their example.

So all plans, logistics, finances, and random chance aside, I can feel confident knowing that there are certain things I can do to be prepared for anything:
  • Read the Bible. Any time I find myself in a huge dilemma or embroiled in a big problem, chances are that I can find something in Scripture that can help me figure out what to do. In fact, I should read the Bible over and over, even when I'm not in trouble. The more I read it and think about it, the easier it will be for me to use it when I really need it. 
  • Pray. I find that it's a good idea to ask God's opinion when there are difficult decisions to be made. I may not always get a straight answer, but listening for God helps me to feel calmer, reminds me that He's in charge instead of me. And sometimes inspiration does come.
  • Build a living support system. No matter what happens to me—good or bad—I'm going to need family and friends. Their advice will help me make both big and small decisions, and their support will help me through everyday and crazy experiences. I should dedicate a significant portion of my energy to nurturing a wide variety of relationships. As we help each other, the road will become easier for all of us.
  • Embrace love. No matter what happens, love is real and it is a fuel unlike any other. Knowing that I am loved convinces me to trust when I would rather panic, pushes me to keep trying when I would rather give up. God loves me, and so do my family and friends. Even when my loved ones can't offer the tangible support I may want, their love means that I am never alone. There is no problem too big for God, and there is nothing that can stop me from being with Him in the end.
I don't have to make the decisions all by myself. I don't have to create a plan for every contingency. God is my navigator and my family and friends are my co-pilots and my supporters. It may get sloppy sometimes, but I know that in the end I'm going to get where I wanted to go. Sometimes I may have to wing it, but my life is in the hands of a higher power who is much kinder than random chance. 

The truth is that as long as I have God, the love and teachings of Jesus Christ, and my loved ones, I will always be prepared.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful! As I said in my last comment, your posts really help me find answers. :)

I'll follow your advice, because (face to situations, activities or simply tomorrow) I hate not knowing what will happen & being unprepared.

* Since I'll probably comment again in the time I'll comment as "R-Anne". ;)

Afsoon and Shapour said...


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