For our 15th anniversary, Zach and I booked a 5-day, 4-night hiking tour of the Grand Canyon with some friends. We asked one of our guides what they do when bad weather happens, and his answer was one I’ve never forgotten.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather,” he answered. “Only unprepared people.”
His answer stuck with me, not only regarding my attitude about the weather in general but also about my faith. Perhaps our attitudes about church are more a reflection of our hearts and less a reflection of worship itself. If I don’t like something I hear or if someone rubs me the wrong way, could that be that I have spent little to no time preparing myself for worship?
Getting oneself ready for worship was a norm for the Israelite people. When God gave the Law in Exodus 19, He called the people to prepare to come into His presence.
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people'” (Ex. 19:10–11).
God wanted the people of Israel, before they came near to Him, to get ready to come near to Him, to prepare themselves for an encounter with Him. God gave Israel two days to prepare. He required them to do ritual cleansing and wash their clothes. It doesn’t sound like a big deal now to us, but this was more than a Tide Pod and throwing some clothes in a machine. In ancient Egypt, the hieroglyphic symbol for washing clothes was two legs in water, which meant that at the time, laundry was mostly done by stamping on the clothes in the water. Talk about hard work!
To get yourselves clean, you had to do some intense stomping on your clothes.
As we enter into a season of Advent, a season of waiting and getting our hearts prepared, I can’t help feeling that I’m missing it before it even begins. Life around the holidays can get hectic. Pressures, schedules, to-do lists, and deadlines creep up, and the quicker things come, the harder I run. So I’m stomping alright, but it’s not always on the right stuff.
To properly come to worship each Sunday, we all need to spend time stomping on our sins. To be prepared for Christmas, we need Advent to prepare our hearts by cleansing our minds and crushing out our sin.
That all sounds great. Except that I still don’t do it. Life gets busy. And rather than feeling like I am crushing my sin, it feels more like my sin is crushing me. That crushing feeling gets me off my feet and on my knees. In that posture, I am able to see better what God is busy doing. Romans 16:20 says,
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”
God of peace.
Grace of our Lord Jesus.
Jesus didn’t wait for just the right conditions to come to earth. An insane dictator was murdering all babies under three when he was a baby. He didn’t wait to study in the synagogue until his parents understood what was going on; they were confused and hurt. He didn’t plot the beginning of His ministry to begin at the perfect time. The Jewish teachers wanted nothing to do with Him. He didn’t look for the greatest and the best to be His followers. He chose simple fishermen.
Jesus didn’t wait until the conditions were favorable for Him before He came to save us. He came despite the confusion and even hatred for what He was trying to do. He came. And it would cost Him everything.
He spent all He had so that He could have you and me.
As we prepare our hearts and minds for the coming Advent season, don’t wait for favorable conditions. The laundry might not be done. The baby won’t nap. The presents might not all be wrapped. There may be no hot cocoa waiting. The kids might not be coming home this year. But come anyway.
There’s no bad weather that will keep you away from Jesus today. Know that your sin has been stamped away by the Perfect Savior of the world. He has done the preparation for you. You need only to come.
Come and rest in the peace of God.