You might be dating yourself if you remember that billboard on Highway 16 on the way to Sparta years ago. On a black background were the ominous words from the prophet Amos: “Prepare to meet thy God!” Given the traffic history of Highway 16, especially in the days before the interstate, it was probably an appropriate sign.
Actually, it’s appropriate for anyone, anywhere, anytime, isn’t it? The five foolish virgins in a story Jesus told – they weren’t prepared, were they? In 1 Thessalonians, Paul reminds us not to live as the brawling, drunken, wenching sons of darkness, but as children of light, our hearts on tiptoes, ready for the King. Our text from Ephesians says: “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
So the Christ who came is coming again. All history shall meet at His feet. Ready or not, we shall meet Him. We shall look into His eyes and He into ours. This rendezvous is inevitable. It marks each day of our lives. This theme spans these final weeks of the church year.
“Prepare to meet your God,” says He whose footsteps we hear coming from the other side. But is this bad news or good news? Well, when your mom used to say: “Just wait till your father gets home!” Bad news or good news? Depends on what went on that day, doesn’t it? If you broke two windows and gave the kid next door a black eye, dad’s coming could be bad news. If you were promised a trip to the fair and a lethal dose of cotton candy when dad got home from work, then “Just wait till your father gets home” was good news.
“Prepare to meet your God!” Our Father would never say this if He didn’t love us, if He didn’t want us to spend forever with Him, if He didn’t want us to get real about Him, to get back to Christ by faith through word and sacrament. He hopes we will open His book again.
“Maybe,” He says, “you could just read the story of My Son in one of the Gospels. I have given you four of them. Maybe you will get to know Him all over again. Maybe you will love it when He talks to you, and you will like talking to Him again. Maybe you will wonder why you didn’t spend this time with your real Friend a long time ago. Maybe you will say, ‘Sweet!’ Maybe you will ‘prepare to meet your God.’ ”
Maybe you will remember, if you are old enough, that there was another side to that billboard on Highway 16. It told people how to be prepared. It said: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”