Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” – Acts 21:13-14
Preparing for any time of testing is difficult. Whether it’s a competitive game, a academic exercise, or a real-life circumstances, there’s prepartion that is required before success can be anticipated. Preparation refines our skills, teaches us lessons, and builds our strength. If my life is any indication, usually we know when we’re ready or if we’re just going to try to get by on a wing and a prayer. We know because we have confidence that we have done the work necessary to achieve our goals.
I think sometimes though we don’t undertake the same level of care with our spiritual preparation as we do making sure that we are ready for other events in our lives. We approach life with the recklessness of the rookie, rather than with the discipline of the battletorn soldier. We trust that our instincts will get us by, without refining what our instincts should be. We like to believe that God will supernaturally reinforce us without taking the time to build a foundation. Bad circumstances overwhelm us, because we never prepare for their eventual return.
In this case, and maybe in it only, what is true in athletics is also true spiritually. We can’t hope to achieve readiness in the midst of the circumstance; readiness is achieved beforehand. Knowing that te purpose of this life is to bring God glory and to worship Him, our preparations should consist of becoming more adept at that. Our practice comes when things are good, when life is (relatively) carefree and we don’t feel the desperate need for God that comes in times of trial. It is through this preparation that our skills are honed and our responses become instinctual. Right response is then not based on feeling, but on Who God is.
Paul had a very clear idea of what he would face as he entered Jerusalem. He made sure that he was ready to face it.