We never saw it coming. It was a beautiful summer day near Chetek, WI, so as we entered the restaurant, we asked the server if we could sit out on the deck, close to the lake. Miles away, across Lake Chetek, and far beyond the town of Chetek, we could see the clouds. But they were such a great distance away that there should have been plenty of time to enjoy our meal. We, and the others on the deck that day, were 99.8% confident that we would fully enjoy the occasion—that there was no danger.

That’s when, without warning, we felt the explosion and simultaneous flash of brightness. “What was that?” We were all in shock. The smell of ozone permeated the air. With clear skies overhead, lightning had shattered a huge tree right in front of the restaurant, about 100 feet from where we sat.

Jesus said, “For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other” (Luke 17:24). You don’t have to know the science behind it to know lightning is dangerous, and to grasp the point Jesus is driving home. Lightning is sudden. You don’t see it coming, and you cannot quickly prepare yourself or protect yourself once it flashes. That’s too late.

So how do we prepare for the lightning of Christ’s return? In the same passage, Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it” (17:32-33).

This is a strong warning against us forfeiting eternity by investing too much in this life. When the Son of Man is revealed, there will be no time to retreat to get our prized temporal possessions. Lot’s wife looked back and lost her life. She longed for what she could only leave behind, for things of no value in the Kingdom of God.

We must be prepared in advance. External events these days are causing many to wonder if the Lord is near. Let these external signs function as a call for internal preparation. Hold this life and all its good things loosely, as a gift that is to be appreciated while it lasts—a gift intended to draw us to the Giver. But hold his Kingdom tightly… the kingdom among us, and the kingdom to come. How do we do that? Know the king, and long for his appearing.

Rev. Brent Juliot serves as contributing editor of Faith & Fellowship magazine and is Pastor of Living Hope Church in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

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