With this Christmas season now underway, there is much to get ready and prepare for. Decorations need to go up. Gifts need to be purchased and wrapped. Food menus and special baking will have to be considered. When the day finally comes, do we ever feel completely ready?

Are you ever really prepared for what’s coming? When we moved overseas 13 years ago, we thought we were prepared. We had lived abroad before. We were familiar with cross-cultural adjustment. We packed up all our belongings. It went well, but we weren’t totally prepared. There were still lots of surprises and many unanticipated situations.

We tried to get ready for parenting. The baby’s room was painted and all the furniture arranged. We bought a car seat and baby proofed the living areas. We read books on how to be an awesome parent. But how can you really be ready for parenting? 25 years later, we are still figuring it out because our children keep growing and their needs keep changing.

The Advent season has a lot do with being prepared: prepared for the coming of Jesus. As New Testament believers, we are to make preparations for his second coming. Are we ready? Jesus said it would take some people by surprise. “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13) He told parables about people who were not expecting his arrival. What does it mean to be prepared for his coming?

Our preparation isn’t about making ourselves perfect or having the house all clean for Jesus’ arrival. There is no long checklist of things we must believe or good deeds we should have accomplished. Jesus makes clear that our preparation means we are expecting him. Don’t stop expecting. Don’t stop waiting. We can get so caught up in day-to-day activities that we forget to be looking out for his return. We are called to live each day as if this could be the day he returns. When we live this way, we’ll be prepared and not caught by surprise. It’s worth it to be ready.