Preparation is important. You have to be prepared for what's to come. This is a lesson we teach our children as we encourage them to look ahead at school assignments or lay clothes out the night before a big day. We practice these same principles as we think through our own days, weeks and months. We work ahead, we think through meal prep and groceries we have on hand, we plan out calendars and appointments related to work, social life and our kid's extra-circulars. I've always considered myself a planner. I prefer to think things through well in advance and to consider what's needed whether I'm planning a trip, a project or something larger.
This morning I was reading from the book of Exodus and the account that's recorded about the passover. For those who aren't familiar with this account allow me to provide a little context. The people of Israel are in slavery in the land of Egypt. God had already challenged Moses to bring an ultimatum to pharaoh (release the people or else) and various plagues had already begun sweeping through Egypt as a result of pharaoh's unwillingness to release the Israelites. It's in Exodus 12 that we see God introduce the final and what many would consider the most severe plague of all, the plague of the first born. God was preparing to strike down the first born of both man and livestock throughout all of Egypt. This would be the straw that broke the camel's back (pun intended).
In preparation for this plague, the Israelites were to sacrifice a lamb and paint the door frame of their houses with the blood of that lamb. As God passed over all of Egypt striking down the first born from every household He would skip over those who had the blood of the lamb on outside of their door frames.
In this plague we see some needed action on the part of the Israelites. First, they were required to sacrifice a lamb and then paint the blood on the doorframes of their dwellings. This in itself would have been an act of faith as it's likely that there wasn't an abundance of food for those that found themselves in slavery and beyond that why in the world would anyone paint the blood of that slaughtered lamb on their doorposts? It seemed a crazy request.
Secondly, as it's recorded in Exodus 12:11, God instructed them to eat that lamb in a very specific fashion, "This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover." Why would God instruct them to eat the lamb with those specific instructions. The answer is simple, God was getting ready to move and thus they too needed to be ready to move. While God had not yet answered their prayers of freedom from slavery He was preparing to do so and He wanted them dressed and ready. Cloak tucked in, sandals on, staff in hand. Their preparedness was a sign of faith that they believed God was getting ready to move.
As I read that this morning on this final day of the year and thought through what God might be calling me to in the New Year I wondered how prepared I was for what lie ahead. If God was calling the Israelites to tuck in their cloaks, put on their sandals and take hold of their staff could He also be calling me to, in a greater way dig into His Word, spend more time seeking His will in prayer, allow Him to push me towards a greater witness to those around me? How might He be calling you to prepare for what lies ahead...getting your finances in order, mending fractured relationships? So I ask myself that simple question today, "Am I preparing for what God has for me in the New Year?" Are you? Be encouraged and keep moving forward.