This is a guest blog by Ann Basil*, a law enforcement officer who works in Southern California.
No one expected the earthquake. It came unannounced and, without discretion, scattered everything violently. The quake came when I was not home. I return hours later to broken glass and tiles on the floor, the contents of cupboards and shelves strewn about, cracked walls, and a garage door that no longer functioned. Had I been told an earthquake was coming? Well … sure, look where I live. But I was not expecting it. I had not prepared, not really. A few days later I stacked my surviving bowls on the cupboard shelf and wondered, would these make it through the next quake?
Two weeks later I found myself staring contemplatively downrange at handgun targets some 35 yards away. On my right was a tall, buff, swat operator. We were in training, and the current afternoon’s topic was combat shooting (how to shoot at bad guys who are shooting back). The week before, this same swat guy had dangled out of a helicopter, trying to get a shot at a man who felt the need to wandering around a quiet neighborhood, threatening people with his shotgun. The man had been taken into custody. “Yup,” the swat guy spit some of his chew on the ground, “it’s coming.”
I squinted at the pieces of paper that represented murderers. “I just hope I’m there when it does happen. I would rather have it be me than one of my partners who can’t shoot.”
The swat guy gently shaped his next wad of tobacco leaves and nestled them lovingly in his lower gum line, “That’s exactly how I feel. And it’s coming. There is some crazy person out there who is going to try and shoot up our people. But when he does, I am going to be ready. I’m going to get him.” We went through a few more hours of practicing cover fire and moving in leapfrog fashion down the range, killing paper bad guys as we went. We would be ready.
The next Monday morning found me frowning as I read my Bible, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some as in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching … In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” Before, to me, Hebrews had always read like a happy, “running with perseverance the race,” sort of read. Reading it today, however, worried my heart. My mind flashed back to the glass shattered on my floor, and the faith the swat guy had in the crazies that was so strong that he dedicated his life to training for that one day. And here, Jesus was coming, like a thief in the night. In just a little while. With no delay.
My heart, like my house and my trigger finger, was not ready. Sure, I am a Christian. Sure, I love Jesus. Sure, I’ve been baptized. But I surely am not preparing for Jesus’ return as if it were real. I am not living daily as if I were about to be judged by the Almighty. There are shelved items in my heart that will fall and smash. There are reactions that I still need to practice and program into my heart so that they are automatic responses. There are strategies for living in a faithful manner that I have not mapped out and implemented. The coming of Christ, or the end of my life, will come without my preapproval. But it will come. I need to start living faithfully in expectation of this unexpected.