Another year has passed as we await the coming of our Lord. We may well wonder: the days are quickly flying and
here we are at the commencement of another year. The days, weeks and months seem to have flown by and our Master has not yet returned. The following essay was prepared at the close of 1996 for the Aberfoyle Park Sisters’ Class by Sister Evonne Hill, encouraging the sisters to be watching with keen anticipation for the Lord’s long heralded return.

How often do we ask our interested friends in our lectures and literature, “Christ is coming soon, are you ready?” Today I want us to ask ourselves this question. Are we ready and prepared for Christ’s return, and are our husbands and children also eagerly looking forward to it with us? Let’s think for a while about Noah and his wife. They believed God when He said He was going to destroy the earth by a flood and in faith they occupied themselves building the Ark “to the saving of their souls”. They used their talents wisely, firstly preaching to their family and teaching them of God’s ways, and secondly preaching to their neighbours. They were watching and patiently waiting for the time that God had told them would come, and most importantly Noah and his family were prepared and ready. And God kept His word. The command came for Noah and his wife, his three sons and their three wives, and for all the animals, to enter the Ark and the door was shut and the rain started falling. And one week later it was still pelting down, two weeks later—no change—three weeks, four weeks—for forty days it rained upon the earth until “all flesh that moved upon the earth was destroyed”. But Noah had “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” and through his faith he and his family were saved.

God has not revealed to us the date that our Master and King will return, but He has told us of signs that He will send along the way that will show us that He is in control of the Universe and that He is bringing His plan and purpose with mankind slowly and surely to pass. If we knew the date of our Master’s return maybe our lives would be different!

The Anticipation of a New Arrival

From time to time important events occur in our lives when a date is set and our lives are governed by our preparations for it. Let’s consider firstly the event of childbirth. From that very moment that our doctor confirms that we are “expecting” a baby, that date is indelibly etched in our brain. We set about altering our schedules to prepare for this joyous and important event. A room has to be prepared, bassinet and pram have to be purchased, clothes have to be bought or made and the health, diet and rest of the mother-to-be has to become top priority. All appointments, holidays and commitments are altered to fit in with our preparations for this big day! We have signs along the way to encourage us that the baby is doing fine and that all is going to time and plan. As the date draws closer so our excitement and longing for this long-awaited birth fills our every thought and action. At last, by God’s grace, the time arrives. Our months of hoping and longing are now turned to joyful reality, our baby is born and mother and baby are both well, and our time of earnest and anxious watching and waiting and preparation is ended! Sometimes, though, a baby may arrive earlier than expected and we are caught out and embarrassed because our lastminute preparations are left undone and we are not prepared. Conversely, a baby may arrive later than expected and we grow irritable and impatient as time seems to drag on and our joyful anticipation and longing can turn to tedious frustration.

The Excitement of An Approaching Wedding Day

 Now let’s think of another event which we can all relate to, where a date is set and our lives are altered to accommodate it. This time I would like us to think about our Wedding Day or a wedding in our family. The date is decided upon and becomes the focus of the family and especially the couple for the months preceding it. Priorities are set in place. Material has to be selected, dresses have to be made, suits bought or hired, both families newly outfitted, the hall and reception arranged, flowers, cars, invitations, rings bought, a house purchased or rented—the list seems endless and all arrangements are to be finalised and set in place for this one special day! The families cancel all holidays, appointments and any other commitments they might normally have on that day, so that they can attend and share their loved ones’ happiness.

There are signs during the weeks beforehand to encourage us that all is going to time and as planned. The printer phones to say the invitations are ready, the dressmaker calls to say the dresses are finished, the menu is set with the caterer, the florist is delighted that she can get flowers in just the right colours, and the real estate agent rings to say that the offer that the young couple have put on that little house they love has been accepted. The day is now fast approaching and the health and well-being of the young couple is now watched to ensure that they are well and looking their best for their special day. Everyone is getting more excited as the day draws closer, especially the young couple who have bouts of frustration and impatience as time seems to drag on. And then, finally the “big day” arrives and thankfully, so thankfully, everything that you have so carefully prepared, by God’s grace, goes off as planned. The couple, so happily in love, are married. Their time of hoping and longing is turned to joyful reality and their time of earnest and anxious preparation and waiting is over.

Longing For Our Lord’s Return

 As we have considered these two events from our everyday lives, I’m sure we have all been gleaning in our minds the exhortations and warnings of being ready and prepared for the greatest event in our lives—the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. God, in His wisdom, has not revealed to us the date of Christ’s return. He knows how most of us procrastinate and He doesn’t want us putting off our preparations to the last minute and being unprepared. He wants us to be like the five wise virgins and be ready, prepared and waiting every day of our lives for our Lord to come, “living each day as if our last”. I shall never forget the earnest prayer we shared with a dear brother in America who was smitten with cancer. How fervently he pleaded with God to make that day the day of his Master’s return for which he longed!

Well, dear sisters, do we look forward to Christ’s return with the same happy longing and expectation as we did to our children’s births and our wedding day? Do we set priorities and see some things in life as important and others as futile. The cares and worries of this temporal life must be put in second place to our preparations for eternal life in the Age to come. We must make Christ’s return the focus of our lives and have that event indelibly etched in our minds. Maybe some activities and pastimes need to be cancelled and our schedules altered so that we are ready for this wonderful day. Are we preparing with the same industrious spirit for this event as we did for our baby’s birth or our wedding day? Are our families like Noah’s—convinced that we have the Truth and that God will keep His promise to send judgment upon the earth? Are they working with us to be ready for this time and to secure their salvation with ours, from this time of trouble?

God is constantly giving us signs along the way; in our own lives, ecclesially, and in the world, to show us that His purpose is going to time and plan. They are sent to encourage us and also to warn us that time is running out and to keep busily preparing. How embarrassing it would be if we had nothing prepared for our precious baby’s arrival or no outfits completed for the bride’s special day! So too, our spiritual garments, our characters, must be ready for Christ when he returns. Once he comes, and he will come, our time of preparation ends. As the five foolish virgins learnt—it’s just too late! We must do all in our power to be ready now. We must ensure that we are healthy spiritually, never neglecting our daily nourishment from the Word of Life.

In the preparation for many of the major family events in our lives, the bulk of the work seems to fall to the lot of the wife and mother. What a sobering thought this is when compared to the preparation of ourselves and our families for our Master’s return. We, as wives and mothers, can do so much to help to prepare our families for Christ’s return: there are the precious times spent talking with our children of Christ’s return and the Kingdom and of making them a reality and a joy to look forward to in their lives, the adjusting of our busy schedules so that quiet evenings may be used wisely together in God’s service, the encouragement of our husbands, our careful planning of the day’s activities to prepare for attending Bible Class, the caring for brethren and sisters or young people, and the assistance in Bible study or Sunday School homework.

A Child’s Belief that Christ’s Coming is Near

 I would like to share a little incident I had with our grand-daughter, Amy, when she was staying with us earlier this year. I will never forget it. As we were preparing to go to the Bible Class she asked, “Are we going to the Wednesday night Bible Class, Grammy?” “Yes, darling”, I answered. “Well, on Thursday would you take me to the Kingdom, Grammy, ‘cos Mummy’s been telling me all about the Kingdom and how lovely it’ll be and I really want to go there, but she hasn’t taken me there yet!” Surely this is the child-like faith Jesus wants us to have. We must see the Kingdom as a reality and long to be part of it. As we count down the days to special events in our lives and we get impatient and frustrated that time seems to drag, is our longing and desire as fervent for Christ’s return? Are we excited that this day is nearly here and pray, “Lord, how long? why tarriest thou?” Are our thoughts like the hymn which says:

“As a woman counts the days,

Till her absent lord she see,

Longs and watches, weeps and prays,

So, dear Lord, we do for thee.”

So, beloved sisters, as we enter the year of 1997, let us examine ourselves. How do we honestly feel within our hearts about the fact that our Master has not yet returned? Are we happy? Are we disappointed? Are we indifferent?

Let us all go away today, conscious of the signs that God is giving us that this wonderful event, this wonderful Hope, is soon to become a joyful reality, and let us resolve to have the faith of Noah and his family and be prepared, ready and waiting for this great day… for

The Bridegroom comes, he tarries not,

The time has almost run.

His promise sure he’s left for us

Behold, I quickly come”.

 Then, sisters all, arise, put on

Thy wedding garment bright.

Rejoice to stand before the Son,

All bathed in healing light.

Till in Christ’s Kingdom we be met,

Till crown of life be won,

Our Master’s words we ne’er forget,

“Behold, I quickly come”.

 Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”