Late one night, eight-teen or so years ago, we made a trip to visit my sister. The light from the stars and moon clearly illuminated the deserted road as they peeked out from behind a faint silhouette of clouds. I turned the radio off so that I could enjoy the unbroken calm of one of the most beautiful sights in God’s creation.
I thought that my wife and children were asleep, so I was startled when my wife said, “Aren’t they wonderful?” I recomposed myself and said, “Yes dear, tonight the stars and moon are almost as beautiful as you.” She laughed and quickly replied, “The night is beautiful, but I was talking about our children.” All of a sudden she became serious as she asked, “If something happened to our children, do you believe that they would go to heaven?” Still a little stunned by the seriousness of her question…I tried with little success to be a pastor, husband and father in the same moment. I responded, “Yes, I believe that they would.” All of a sudden, our then three-year-old daughter’s angelic face popped up, and with tears in her eyes she said, “But I’m not ready to go to heaven now!”
She was so upset that I had to stop the car to reassure her that we did not mean she had to get aboard the train bound for heaven right then. Finally she drifted back to sleep. My wife soon followed. As everyone slept my daughters words haunted me, “I’m not ready … ” What troubled me most about her comment was not what she said, but the truth in of it. In one phrase she had accurately portrayed the reality of many would be Christian’s spiritual lives.
Jesus tells us that no one knows the time of his return. In the parable of the Wise & Foolish Bridesmaids (Matthew 25:1-13), Jesus warns of the need to be prepared. Yet for some reason, we fail to recognize the urgency of our own spiritual lives. We all need to lead examined lives, asking the right questions during our spiritual journeys. Many of us do try to live good, examined lives … often concluding that we will be prepared when the time comes. The question is not “Will you be prepared?” but rather “Are you prepared?” We never know what the next hour will hold.
I was not completely troubled by my daughter’s statement. At least she knew that she was not ready to leave now. Use this season of Lent to ask the right question, ‘Am I now ready to leave?’