Ready Or Not
“Forget the dishes! Who cares if the house is spotless or not? Take time for what’s really important,” my conscience argued with me.
“But I have to finish the dishes and vacuum the floor,” I argued back. I was such a perfectionist!
I usually tried to read my Bible early in the day. But, lately I hadn’t found time until bedtime. By then, I was too exhausted to comprehend what I was reading.
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The children were in the backyard playing. I peered out at them through the window as I scrubbed a greasy pan. I promised myself earlier when the house was quiet I would read and pray. But then I saw that pile of dirty dishes in the sink. I couldn’t leave them like that.
Anxiously, I put the last dish in the cupboard and attempted to dry my hands on the wet dishtowel. Hanging it on the rack to dry, I marched directly to the couch, picked up my Bible from the end table, and bowed my head to pray.
“Dear Heavenly Father, teach me Your truths and…” I felt something poke into me. No, it wasn’t God tugging at my heartstrings. I put my prayer on hold while I reached down the side of the couch cushion and pulled out one of the children’s pencils. I made a mental note to speak to them about picking up after themselves. Then I settled back and again bowed my head. As my eyes closed, they swept over the floor.
“I should really vacuum the floor,” I was again distracted from my prayer.
“No! Concentrate on God,” my conscience demanded. I closed my eyes tightly and ignored the urge to jump up and clean. I prayed even harder, “Father, bless my efforts to read Your Word.” One eye peeked out at the carpet. I couldn’t concentrate. I set my Bible back on the end table. “I’ll just take five minutes to run the vacuum. Then I won’t be distracted,” I convinced myself.
As I unwound the cord and reached for the socket, I remembered Laura. She was a young neighbor girl who had given her life to Jesus the Sunday before. Laura had approached me after church and asked if I would talk to her about her new commitment and how she could live for God. Now it was Saturday and I still hadn’t found the time.
“I’m sorry, Laura,” I said to myself as I vacuumed. “I just can’t right now.” My children had come in and were pulling at my skirt. They were hungry and lunch was in the oven. I decided to call Laura as soon as we finished eating.
An hour later, as I stood at the sink, again washing dishes, I glanced out the open window to see the children playing hide-and-go-seek. My son turned from the tree where he had been counting and yelled, “Ready or not, here I come!” I smiled as he ran to seek for all his hidden friends.
Glancing up at the sky, I saw a bright cloud. It appeared to be moving strangely toward me. Again the words echoed in my mind, “Ready or not, here I come.” I pictured Jesus in that cloud… moving steadily closer.
“Ready or not…” I imagined Him whisper.
“… in the twinkling of an eye…”* I quoted. Was I ready? Had I done all I could for Him? I thought of the Bible reading I had put off and the call to Laura. Like Martha in the Bible, I was worrying about all the wrong things. I dropped my dishtowel on the counter and hurried to the end table, where my Bible waited patiently. I searched for that story which was so much like my own.
“Martha, Martha,” Christ had said, “you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”**
Martha’s sister, Mary, had chosen to disregard the household chores and concentrate on soaking up Jesus’ every word while He was with them. Her spiritual learning would last forever, but the house and everything in it would soon pass away.
I thought of my own house and how I strove to keep everything perfect. Yet, it wasn’t perfect at all. It was missing the most important part: the eternal part. I looked up just then and noticed a plaque that my Grandmother had kept on her wall all the years I was growing up. It said, “Only one life – twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
God was speaking to me. It was the laundry I should put off… and the vacuuming. The dishes could wait… but Jesus wouldn’t. And “that day and hour [when He will appear] no one knows, not even the angels in heaven,”*** His Word tells us. When He comes He won’t be looking to see whether the floor is spotless or the dishes clean. All those things will pass away. He will be checking, however, to see that my spirit is undefiled and my heart is pure and washed by His blood.
Why hadn’t I seen it before? I had to get my priorities straight. I had to stop procrastinating. I needed to do what I could for Him… NOW!
Leaving the dirty dishes in the sink, I picked up the phone and dialed. Finally, a timid voice answered, “Hello.”
“Laura, what are you doing this afternoon? I thought you might like to come over to study the Bible with me.”
“I’d love to!” She sounded thrilled.
“Oh, by the way,” I added. “Don’t mind the mess.”
*I Cor. 15:52 (NKJV), **Luke 10:41-42 (NKJV), ***Matt. 24:36 (NKJV)