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BE PREPARED

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					                                 BE PREPARED

       “Be Prepared.” That’s the motto of the Boy Scouts. “Be prepared for

what?” someone once asked Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, “why, for

any old thing,” said Baden-Powell.

       You see, the training received by a scout is supposed to help them live up

to that motto. When someone has an accident, they might be prepared because

of first aid training. Or because of lifesaving practice around the water, they

might be able to save a non-swimmer who falls off the end of the dock. But

Baden-Powell wasn’t thinking just of being ready for emergencies. His idea was

that all Scouts should prepare themselves to become productive citizens and to

give happiness to other people. He wanted each Scout to be ready in mind and

body for any struggles, and to meet with a strong heart whatever challenges

might lie ahead.

       As the Scout manual declares, “Be prepared for life – to live happily and

without regret, knowing that you have done your best. That’s what the Scout

motto means.”

       It’s great advice for all times and not only for young and growing boys. It

certainly speaks to all of us, and it was what was going through my mind the

morning on which I attended the Nephrology treatment session at the Ottawa

Hospital. About a dozen or so candidates, along with a family member, would be

informed over the next two hours about the treatment options open to people in

their situation, namely declining kidney health and function.




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       And so the words rang true as the first nurse got up and after the

welcome, announced that what we would hear that morning was in order to

ensure everyone would be prepared to make choices that suited them best –

their lifestyle, family situation and so on.

       And squeamish as I am about all things bloody, I was thinking that I could

have had some help in being prepared for the presentation that followed.         You

see, as I sat there feeling a little bit queasy, with the pictures and descriptions of

shunts stuck into abdominal cavitities and by talk of splicing veins into arteries, I

thought also about the people for whom the prospects of doing such things was

very real. Procedures such as having to hook themselves up to a bag four times

a day at home; having to make room to store box upon box of medical supplies,

just for one month of treatment.

       I thought too about our limited mortality and our health and all the things

that do, or will, conspire against us. That in the end I wondered, will I too face

similar prospects, or will it be related to some other disease and treatment that

will challenge me, physically, emotionally and spiritually?

       And I thought that if I was feeling that way, how must the others in the

room be feeling? For no matter how nice the nurses were, as they came in

waves and how they spoke with pleasant voices and smiling faces, what they

were proposing was nothing to be considered normal.                It would call for

permanent changes to lifestyle and activities.

       But how to prepare for it – is it strictly receiving the information and

making the choices? To be told that for each month you’d have to store upwards




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of 120, 4 liter bags of fluid in some room of your house. That everyday, you have

to hook yourself up 4 times a day for thirty minutes? Or rather than that, go to a

clinic three days a week, for 4 to 6 hours a day, every week for the rest of your

life?

        Disturbing, of course, but necessary for what would be the alternative?

They even talked about that during the session. That its within your right to

refuse treatment, in which case, they’d give you pain medication until the end,

which would probably come in about 5 days.

        It was something to sit through and as I left I went out with a renewed

resolve to try to do everything within my power to give my body the means to be

healthy.

        But what about the people with the poor kidney function? That’s the more

important question – how do they reach deep down inside to deal with yet

another step in their journey; a journey taken out of necessity but at the same

time, with reluctance?

        And reluctance may be too soft of a word – dread would certainly fit, as

would worry and to be honest, fear. The fear that begins with, I don’t know how

I’m going to do this.” “How will I ever adjust?” “How do others do it?”

        All the normal emotions of which were spoken of, but it’s only talk.

Nothing will turn back the prospects of moving forward.

        And maybe facing our own mortality is the one thing that brings us back to

the memory of being merely human. To wonder how we find it in ourselves to

find the peace that is suppose to come in the face of “the news.”




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       I mean, we can look to Christ by our faith and recall the account of his

struggle in Gethsamane.

       The way he was moved to agony and distress over the prospect of what

was to come; to see his very real human response. Feeling deserted by the

disciples who couldn’t stay awake - no source of encouragement there. That he

went off by himself as we all tend to do, when we feel overwhelmed and don’t

want to show our weakness or vulnerability to those around us.

       And he prayed as we would; praying for his life.         Wanting to have a

reprieve in the face of a daunting prospect, yet knowing maybe, in his heart of

hearts, the same thing the convict knows who is facing the death penalty in the

morning.

       That morning always comes. That some things, no matter how hard we

pray for them no to, will come to pass.

       But how can we be prepared?        That’s what was going through my mind

on that February morning, as I sat in the hospital conference room, and it came

to me; the questions that I jotted down on the back of the information booklet

that had been passed out to all of us. Questions that apply not only to a medical

procedure, but to the whole of life…

HOW IS GOD PREPARING ME

       …And the first question is this: How is God preparing me through this

experience?    How is God preparing me through this experience?          That’s a

question that we could ask in all sorts of situations, couldn’t we?




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       Not for the experience, but through it. Well, as it related to the people at

the medical clinic, they were to sit through the session in order to gain

knowledge, something along the lines of that passage of scripture that speaks of

“knowledge as the beginning of wisdom.’         And you know what they say -

knowledge is power.

       What God I think, we all want to believe, wants for us; power that comes

from discernment and knowledge, with which he enables us through our mind

and our spirit.

       And we can all relate to it    - it comes at our earliest age; schooling

prepares us with knowledge about things of the world; family and friends prepare

us with knowledge about things of the heart. All that we might make sense of

things so as to discern order and know right from wrong, good and evil, morals

and ethics. To make right choices, not only for us but also, right choices in

relation to the spheres in which we live, work or play. You need only look back

over your life – how was God preparing you through your choice of university

course? Maybe to make you better in your vocation. Or what preparation that

comes through being a parent? Or through your choice to settle in Ottawa,

versus somewhere else?

       For in everything, in every choice, don’t we want to believe God is

preparing us through our experiences? Maybe so as to allow us to understand

how we fit into the big scheme, or to be able to look back and say, that through

what happened then, “I was prepared for now”.




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        And the good news is, I believe, that God does prepare us, through

experiencing the Spirit; to embrace the wisdom and knowledge that’s found in

what the Apostle Paul, says, as he quotes from Isaiah (64:4), in 1 Corin. 2:9. “No

eye has seen, no ear had heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared

for those who love him – 10. But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

        And so that gives us something to reflect upon – in many things, we might

find mystery, or we might not understand something, but the question is: How is

God preparing me through this experience? Is it to be made better as a person,

or as a friend or spouse? As a member of the church? As a co-worker? As a

parent?    Or better prepared, as those kidney patients were, to accept and

understand the necessity of some medical procedure or treatment, that will give

life.

        For if we have that outlook, won’t we seek the knowledge that we might

gain through every experience? Knowledge that we can search for, and the

wisdom within it so as to make us people who, through all of life, can grow closer

to God. To be better prepared to serve him, through our encounters with him in

everything we do, face, or endure.

        And so that maybe gives us something to think about, as we consider the

second point….

HOW HAS GOD ALREADY PREPARED ME

        A point that you might think of with this illustration; you have decided to

redecorate a room in your home. And so you tear off the old wallpaper with that

design that says 1970’s, and you wash down the walls with the cleaning solution.




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        Then you carefully put masking tape all around the door frames,

windowsills and baseboards, and then according to the instructions, follow up by

putting on a coat of primer paint. And what do we say you’ve done – “you’ve

prepared the room for painting, haven’t you?”

        Just like the second question that came to me – How has God already

prepared me for this experience? And this is the question that’s maybe the

easiest to answer isn’t it, because it’s the one where we get to ask it, and then

look back on what has already transpired. The flip side to the first question, in

that this one is posed in the past tense; already prepared. What Paul wrote to

Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2), “Be prepared in season and out of season.” The way in

which the Boy Scout training comes into play – something learned prior to

needing it, but because of that prior training, being able to draw on it in a time of

need.

        For think for a moment – maybe of the most difficult time in your life; how

had God prepared you to deal with that situation? Well, if God by your faith had

been part of your life, I pray that you found something to which you could cling.

Maybe looking back, you found a life of prayer had prepared you; the fellowship

of the members of the church; a faithful family member or the personal

experience of someone who’d travelled down the same road.

        Even looking to scripture and seeing what God said to his people, Exodus

23:20, “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and

to bring you to the place I have prepared.”




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       The news that God knows what we’ll encounter in our lives, and that he

leads us to the place, be it good or bad. But the better news that he walks with

us by his spirit - the best example of which has to be the life of Jesus.

       To prepare ourselves by looking to the life of our Saviour has to be a

conclusion that we can draw from scripture. Because again we can resonate

with the times where we see Christ was frustrated, angry, filled with sorrow, even

seeking solace from his heavenly Father.

       But in all of it, Christ sought God to prepare him, for what he was going

through at that very moment. And this morning, can you say the same thing?

That God has prepared you for the experience you are going through right now.

It may or may not be a crisis, but what by your willingness in faith, has God

prepared you for? Because that question leads us to our last this morning…

WHAT EXPERIENCE IS GOD PREPARING ME FOR

       …which deals with the future. We can all agree that looking to the future,

is an oxymoron, for we can’t literally look into the future and we can’t in all

certainty know what tomorrow will bring. And it leads us to the question: What

future experience is God preparing me for?

       It’s a good question, isn’t it? One in which we have no say, no control, no

insight beyond a few hours, for we don’t know if tomorrow will bring routine or

upheaval. And so the answer to that question can only be what Paul said to

Timothy: “be prepared in season and out of season.” Yet we ask, prepared for

what? And the faithful could steal the answer from Baden-Powell: “Why, for any

old thing.”




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      And even though we don’t know what experience God is preparing us for,

we can hopefully be sure of one thing: That if we believe, if we have faith, if we

look to and follow Christ, then we will be prepared. For God made the promise to

us, as told to the people by Malachi, 3:1, “See, I will send my messenger, who

will prepare the way before me.” Words echoed later by John the Baptist, they

pointed the way to Christ.

      And so we have the answer, don’t we? How is God preparing me through

an experience? How has God already prepared me for life’s twists and turns?

And what experience, yet to be had, is he preparing me for?

      Whether its preparing for a medical treatment; a new job; a new

relationship, we cling to the hope of the here and now; the hope of the promise

that Christ can show us the way; that in him, we find the answers to all the

questions.

      But that it starts with us – for if we just look for, and seek, his wisdom and

knowledge, God’s promise is that we will, “be prepared”.

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father: We deal with many questions and uncertainties in life, and yet
by our faith we seek to be prepared in all ways – mind, body and spirit. And so
we pray, may the life of Christ, and the work of the Spirit, work in us, Amen.

BENEDICTION

Let us go out with the promise of Christ:
In my Fathers house there are many rooms…I am going to prepare a place for
you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with
me that you also may be where I am.




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