Preparation: The Coming Storm

Heritage Presbyterian Church

March 6, 2019
Ash Wednesday
Scripture readings – Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17 & 2nd Corinthians 5:20b – 6:10

The only Texans I know who are not experts on preparing for a coming storm are the ones who haven’t lived here longer than two years. Texans are really good at preparing for storms.  We all know that when we hear the word on the television or radio or Internet, we should do the following:

  • Stock up on propane, bottled water, food, and batteries.
  • Fill up our vehicles with gas.
  • Get some cash from the bank.
  • Tape over or cover big windows.
  • Move all the loose stuff from the yard that might fly around in a high wind into the garage.
  • Charge our cell phones.
  • Check on friends, neighbors, and family to make sure they are prepared too.

We also know that if we live somewhere that might get clobbered, we need to board up and get out of the way!

We know this stuff.  But we also know there is only so much that we human beings can do.  Even if we are totally prepared, something might happen that has never happened before.  Weather equipment and experts can give us some warnings, but there is no such thing as a perfect warning system.

When the Galveston hurricane of 1900 was coming, the Americans were warned of the hurricane by the weather guys in Cuba.  Those warnings were ignored because we didn’t think too much of the Cuban “experts.”  When the hurricane that the Cubans had correctly predicted was about to make landfall in Galveston, local legend says a lone rider on a horse went up and down the beaches warning people to flee and take cover.  His warnings were also ignored.  Over 6000 died.

When Hurricane Rita was approaching the Texas gulf coast in 2005, large sections of the Houston area were completely deserted.  Rita was a Category 5 storm, the largest and most powerful storm there was.  Our entire neighborhood was deserted…except for the Plunkett household.  The weatherman on Channel 2 accurately predicted that the storm was going to turn to the east and completely miss Houston. He cited numerous experts at the National Hurricane Center who said the same thing.  However, thousands of people were stranded for hours on the Houston freeways trying to flee the storm… and then trying to get back home.  Meanwhile, our out-of-state relatives were absolutely frantic!

God has been trying to warn us of coming storms for centuries, but when God sent his prophets to warn us, he was not telling us about the weather…he was trying to give us a chance to prepare for what was called the “Day of the Lord.”

That phrase “the Day of the Lord”…would you believe that it is quoted directly in ten different books of the Bible?  Four of them in the Old Testament and six in the New Testament! The Lord has been trying to get us ready for his actions throughout biblical history.  If only we would listen…because when the “Day of the Lord” comes, it isn’t going to be a good day for everyone…

The Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

The Day of the Lord will be something to fear.

The Day of the Lord will be inescapable for every single person.

But the Day of the Lord has been warned about for anyone who cares to listen or read or believe.

If we trust in our Lord God to take care of us and protect us and love us, then we have nothing to fear.  

When the ancient Egyptians and their Pharaoh were warned to let the Hebrew slaves go, they got multiple versions of the “Day of the Lord.” 

But notice that none of the Hebrew slaves were touched!

And yet we fear this saying.  Believers have nothing to fear.

But perhaps we still have some preparations to do.

None of us know when or how the final “Day of the Lord” will occur.  We know what Jesus calls each of us to do right now in our own lives and in the world today.  We know we are called to love one another, no matter what.  We know that the Bible gives us a unique and authoritative word from God.

We all know this.  And we also know what comes at the end of the season that begins tonight: the season of Lent ends with Good Friday and the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We know all about that.  Yet we should prepare for it anyway.

The rest of the world might view many of us just as Paul and the early Apostles were viewed in biblical times: 

  • lunatics who follow a god that makes no sense;
  • a god who calls us to deny ourselves, to put others first;
  • a god who died…for us.

But we know that our God, our Savior Jesus Christ, loved us so much that through his death, he prepared us for eternal life.

As we begin this season of Lent this evening with the ancient ceremony of imposing ashes and marking ourselves, let each of us prepare to face the suffering of the One who loved us most, the love of the One from the tiny town of Nazareth, the power and might of the One who was NOT there on Easter morning when his friends found his empty tomb.

Let us prepare for the coming storm, the “Day of the Lord.” 

But let us prepare confidently.

Because he loved us.