Preparing to Leave

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When I shop for a pair of pants, I do so with an eye to the future. My purchase is not based merely on “fashion” (obviously!) and price, but also on potential. I buy my clothes with a view to potential growth. Let me explain.

I love long distance running. I also love to eat. In fact, I run to eat! Thankfully, running enables me to indulge in my favourite carbs without too much worry. But I am also aware that the strange feeling in my body each morning means that there may come a day when the running shoes are retired. And if that happens, I will be glad that I planned for an expanding future! Such expansion is likely inevitable. Therefore I need to prepare.

Life is filled with both inevitabilities (sickness, ageing, retirement, death) and uncertainties—that is, the “when” of these things. Therefore, preparation is vital. Today’s investments of time, opportunities, finances, etc. should be informed by the possibilities of tomorrow. I need to think ahead and prepare. And this includes preparing to leave, in more ways than one.

For example, one day I will no longer serve as pastor-teacher of Brackenhurst Baptist Church. I need to prepare to leave. In fact, when I first arrived at our church, I was alreadypreparing to leave. My responsibility was to shepherd the flock and to train shepherds to multiply and to eventually replace my ministry (Ephesians 4:11–16). This is precisely what Paul did in Ephesus (Acts 20:17–31). And then he left (20:32–35).

When I took up my pastoral responsibility, I was young, with black hair, wearing glasses with dinnerplate-sized lenses. But now I am not so young, my hair is silver, and my glasses are both smaller and the lenses more complicated! These changes remind me that nothing remains static and therefore I need to “maak ‘n plan.” I need to prepare to leave, which includes preparing others for my departure.

But most importantly, I need to prepare to leave this life.

As I wrote yesterday, death is inevitable. And since most likely my family will outlive me, I need to prepare them for my departure. Among other preparations, I aim to prepare “provisionally” for those I leave behind. But most significantly, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I need to do all I can to leave a godly legacy for my family, including my grandchildren. Such preparation drives my daily prayers, and, in my better hours, influences my behaviour. I can’t do much to influence my enemies; however, I can do a lot to influence my family. I need to prepare to leave them well.

Now for the non-Christian, this may seem morbid, if not fatalistic. But it is neither. Rather, it is an honest facing of the biblical reality that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that judgement” (Hebrews 9:27). We need to prepare for that appointment. Each of us needs to prepare to leave, and the pandemic has been a providential means to confront us with the question, “Are you preparing to leave?”

I was recently struck by the prayer of Puritan pastor Jonathan Edwards: “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” He desired to live in light of preparing for the future. Like him, we must prepare to leave.

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, then, my friend, you are notprepared to leave. Repent of your rebellion against God, trust in Jesus Christ alone as the one who died in the place of those who will trust him alone for forgiveness of their sins. Jesus Christ rose from the dead proving he is able to save sinners!

Christian, are you preparing to leave? That is, are you living with eternity in view? Are you persevering to live for Christ (Philippians 3:10–14)? I hope so. As you prepare to leave well, you will be preparing your loved ones, including your church, for your departure. When preparing to leave, there is no time like the present. In fact, it is the only time we can prepare.

Preparing with you,

Doug