Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke
and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. ~ 2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV)
When my husband and I were in New Orleans, we went to a famous diner for breakfast. Long, low marble counters wrapped around a center area where the waiter took orders, poured coffee and washed dishes. A bunch of people sat down at about the same time as we did. The waiter went from person to person, taking orders, and then stood in the middle, hands behind his back, nothing in front of him, and called out the orders to the chef from memory. He had the lingo down (things like high and dry, drag it through the garden, two dots and a dash). As he shouted out the orders, the chef went to work without hesitation, filling his giant stainless steel grill with handfuls of bacon, sausage, ham and veggies. Then, over the entire surface, he poured egg mixture until the entire grill was one solid mass of steaming food. With his spatula, he cut the eggs into rectangles, folded them up, and flipped them onto plates. He filled plate after plate with a perfectly cooked, exactly right, hot, fresh, custom omelet. The server dealt them out to the customers like a card dealer at a poker table, quick and efficient. And then we ate. Oh, how we ate. Delicious food, and all the better because of how it was prepared.
As I ate, I watched the chef. He was surrounded with stainless steel containers of ingredients, perfectly prepped and waiting to be used. Crispy bacon strips piled high; golden stacks of toast towering, ready for a single swipe of melted butter to be quickly applied with a wide brush; tubs of onions and peppers and mushrooms, clean and chopped. It was all there, ready to go. When the chef knew what was needed, he was able to deliver almost immediately because of the work that had been done before.
Although the food was good and the experience interesting, what I learned that morning was more about Christianity. We need to be prepared. You never know when someone is going to need prayer; when a friend will collapse in front of you, desperate for encouragement or advice; when you’ll be faced with a health diagnosis or a lawsuit or unexpected bills or a broken relationship. This is why we need to be in the Word regularly, to write God’s wisdom on our hearts. This is why we need to pray, so we are already in His presence and don’t have to waste time returning to Him. This is why we should study and prepare and practice, so that all the tools we need, for anything we face, are all right within our reach. Ready to go.