There are so many sayings about being ready and prepared, that many people may begin to think that they cannot possibly do something if they are unprepared or not ready. We practice disaster drills in school so we’re ready if it happens. Military runs drills and exercises so they’re ready. At church we stock supplies so we’re ready. It seems throughout life there is example after example demonstrating that we are to be ready. But how do we respond if we’re not ready?
Abraham found himself in a situation where he was neither ready nor prepared. Three men appear and something in his soul told him these were no ordinary men. “He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”” (Gen 18:2-5)
There’s nothing in the text to indicate how Abraham knew these men were angels or messengers of God, but it’s obvious that he does. Not only does he address them as Lord, but he stops everything to care for their needs (despite his lack of readiness or preparation). Notice what has to happen for him to make good on his offer.
“And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.” (Gen 18:6-8) He literally had nothing ready. He offered these men something that was not available. He couldn’t just go to the cupboard and grab some of yesterday’s bread, fresh bread had to be made.
But Abraham did not let his lack of preparation change his heart. While the bread, the milk and the calf were not prepared beforehand, his heart was. Abraham was in a state of readiness, if only in his heart. He was prepared to serve his Lord in any shape or fashion that presented itself. He did not allow his lack of earthly preparedness to deter him from serving his Lord.
I don’t want to take away from the benefits of being earthly prepared. There is much value in having an extra chair for your table, extra food to share, spare change if needed. Being earthly prepared does make it easier to serve when you are least expecting it. But the danger is thinking that if we aren’t earthly prepared, we aren’t prepared at all.
We should all adopt the heart of Abraham. Regardless of the state of our earthly readiness, we should be ready without notice to entertain, to care for, to serve. After all, we never know who we are serving. “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matt 25:40)
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