Let me dive a little deeper by switching metaphors…
We put ourselves at risk when we travel through life without paying attention to those important warning lights flashing their plea for attention on the dashboard. Our car may keep running, but eventually it will break down, and we will not know when it will happen. If we ignore the lights for a long period, we will travel with constant anxiety, hoping for the best and fearing the worst.
Our life with Christ is like that, if we ignore God along the way and just hope for the best. When we do that, we can bet things will eventually get worse. We need to seek God’s interpretation and guidance, because if we fail to do this, we will slip out of God’s gear and start driving on our own again in an attempt to know every detail of every mile. But driving like that, under our own interpretation and guidance, we will never really know what we are running from, where we are running to, and why. Paying attention to God’s computer screen to receive his signals is a critical part of being ready to respond appropriately and make wise leadership decisions in our life.
Being ready is not merely trying hard, tensing our muscles, and saying, “Okay, I’m ready. I must do these things because they are right and they are what Christians are supposed to do. Okay, let’s go!” That shows gumption, except that things will not work that way. God tells us to stay away from that approach to life. Being ready is not showing initiative; it comes out of a “right relationship” with God to see where we are and where he wants us to go. Being ready is more than seizing the mountaintop experiences of the Christian walk. It means being ready every day, not just at church, not just on the retreats, and not just with other Christians.
We rarely move to trouble in one jump. We usually get into trouble when our emotions and actions “wander” and push us away from God. If not interrupted, the cycle will continue, and eventually we end up in a wreck. The writer of Hebrews warns us “we must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Heb. 2:1).
We often play a red light-green light game where we wait for God’s inspirational green light before pushing the gas pedal and moving forward. However, God’s gift of the inspirational green light on the computer screen launching us into the spiritual ecstasy zone is rare and unpredictable. Besides, God controls the switch, not us. The key is always being ready and not having to “get ready.” The apostle Paul’s instruction to Timothy is instruction for us as well: “Be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2).