Are you ready?

The tragedy in Charleston has us all contemplative.  These people were surely in the safest possible place - church on a Wednesday night.

It takes a committed Christian to be at church on a Wednesday night.
Surely, we think, they would be protected from evil.

My guess, though, is that they weren't there to be protected.  They were there to love Jesus and one another.

Because of that, they were ready to face even the deepest of evil.  When it confronted them,disguised initially as a friend.  Because they walked with Jesus in the ordinary days, they were ready to face evil and fear and death with confidence and peace.

They were ready.

Evil didn't send an advance notice.  No warning was issued to alert them of terror and untimely death.
But they were ready all the same.

What a lesson to us all.

We have no promise of tomorrow, much less of peace and comfort and protection.

The readiness of these nine heroes (I don't refer to them as victims) speaks to me, for sure. They were ready to die. But something else stands out.

The readiness of the survivors.

I was astounded at the responses of the families of these heroes.  They, too, were unaware that pure evil would upend their lives that fateful day in June.  They, too, had no warning of what would confront them.

But they were ready.

They had no time to prepare a mature, well-thought out response to evil.  They were given no notice that the microphones of the world would be thrust in their face to capture this intensely personal reaction. 

But they were ready.

They were ready, yes, to grieve, but also to respond with grace and forgiveness.

They were ready to lean completely on the love and sovereign grace of their Savior even in - especially in - the face of unspeakable tragedy. 

Because of how they lived on the "ordinary" days, they were ready to live a life that makes Christ known to an unbelieving world.  A life that exude peace and love and grace. And hope. 

A life like this is ready to die...and ready to live, whichever God numbers for that day. A life like this cannot be explained apart from the glory of God.

What we have observed in this Charleston community is a result of a group of people who were ready.

Ready to die.

And ready to live.

Are you ready?

I Peter 3:15 - Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.