One of the many things I learned in the military that I have carried over into the civilian sector is Readiness. Every time I returned from a deployment, regardless of how long it was, regardless of how exhausted everyone was, or how much everyone wanted to get back to their families, no one left the unit to go home until we completed our redeployment/recovery operations. This required all the vehicles to be washed, fuel tanks topped off, all fluids checked, all equipment cleaned, packed up and ready for the next deployment. When we finally got home, we had to ensure that our personal gear got cleaned, uniforms and clothing laundered and packed up in what we called our A and B deployment bags. The reason this was the standard practice in military units and why it is ingrained in every soldier is because we had to be ready to go at a moments notice. We had no idea when that next deployment would come. It could be months down the road or the following day. When we got that deployment phone call, usually around 3 AM, we would have 4 hours to get to the unit with all of our gear, load up everything required in our vehicles and roll out of the motor pool. If we didn’t prepare ahead of time, we would not be able to meet that timetable and end up missing our deployment “window”. While missing this time table by 10 or 15 minutes may not seem like a big deal, it has a significant impact on an entire operation. Our unit is one of many who must use the same transportation assets, the same roads, pick up ammunition at the same location, etc. We would end up like a square peg trying to get through a round hole.
Maintenance and readiness are important factors in many aspects of our lives. We monitor the fuel level in our cars, check the oil and brakes, all so that we prevent bigger problems down the road. It’s the responsible thing to do. We also concern ourselves with physical maintenance and readiness. We make sure that we don’t neglect our health, we check with doctors on a regular basis to detect and prevent major health issues down the road, we take our medications as prescribed.
Many of us do well in maintaining our health, our homes, our cars, tools and other possessions, but how are we doing in the area of spiritual readiness? What does the bible say about spiritual readiness? One of the primary things that Jesus talked about was to be prepared for His second coming.
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.” And at midnight a cry was heard: “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!” Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, “Give me some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered, saying, “No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” But he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
We had no idea when we would be called for another deployment, just as the virgins had no idea when the bridegroom was going to arrive. Are we ready and prepared if Jesus returned right now as you are reading this? What spiritual things do we have in our lives that are out of place or order? What other ways do we need to be working on towards spiritual readiness? The apostle Paul speaks of another important aspect of being spiritually prepared.
He even instructs us on how to do this. He said to "Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,"
This spiritual readiness needs to be developed; it cannot be just an intellectual exercise. Many of us know this verse and know what we need, but fail to put in the work and develop each of these pieces. We can’t expect to just pick up these pieces of armor and put them on as needed without any time, energy and work involved. It takes studying the Scripture to know what the truth is. Righteousness has to be lived out in our lives as a result of knowing God. The Gospel is something that has to be ingrained in us and we must be ready to share it at a moments notice. Our faith is also something that must be developed as we depend on the Holy Spirit and put our trust in God regardless of our circumstances. We must commune with God through studying Scripture and in much prayer. Until we develop these habits, our spiritual readiness will we unstable and weak.
Military readiness was a great tool to help me recognize the importance of being spiritually ready and to know that it takes discipline and hard work, but pays huge dividends. This is what God expects of all of us. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but know the value of perseverance in this important part of my life.