Most of us have faced this dilemma at one time or another in our lives. A loved one has been seriously injured, become critically ill or even died and we have to get home now. Perhaps a fire, hurricane, tornado, flood waters or another natural disaster is bearing down on us and we have to act quickly to get ourselves and our families to safety. The possibilities are limitless I suppose, but at some point we will all face this situation where we have to drop whatever else we were doing, leaving everything else behind except what is absolutely necessary for our journey and survival.
I live in the Gulf Coast region of the United States where hurricane season usually starts this time of year and runs for several months. We learn to watch every tropical depression that approaches the Gulf of Mexico to see if it will develop into a tropical storm. If it does, we really pay close attention and track it to see where it is headed and to see if it is strengthening to potentially reach hurricane force. As soon as it becomes a full fledged hurricane, we start making emergency preparations to either wait out the storm and see if we survive or to evacuate to avoid the destructive force winds, flood waters and tornados that usually come with it.
We are instructed and reminded time and time again by emergency personnel and first responders to have an evacuation plan and an emergency preparedness kit ready so that we can leave on a moment’s notice or at least be self sustaining if during the storm we lose power, running water, banking capabilities, access to gasoline, groceries, etc.. When these storms or natural disasters come, it could be weeks before utilities are restored, debris is removed, and it is safe to return home—if you have a home still standing to return to. I know the same is true in areas out west where wild fires and mudslides can happen at any time and where there is very little time to prepare to evacuate.
I ask you to play along with me in your mind and try to place yourself in one of these emergency evacuation situations. You choose whatever scenarios you can relate to, but remember that you immediately have to drop everything that you are doing, leave all of your possessions, neighbors, family and work behind. “ALL” that you can take with you is what you have already packed and prepared in advance to take with you at a moment’s notice—everything else will have to stay behind. No matter how valuable or important the possessions, relationships, property, business or assets, everything else will be left behind, expecting that it will be destroyed by the disaster. What would you take with you? Are you packed and ready to go as if your life depended on it? Is there anything left undone? Is there anyone that you love that is not prepared to leave with you right now to avoid the coming disaster? If you are not ready now, if your family is not ready, if your neighbors and other loved ones are not ready to leave right now—and the deadly disaster is surely and quickly approaching, what must you do to be ready yourself and insure that they are properly warned and also prepared to go? If they are not ready, you may never see them again! Please pause here and think these questions through before you continue reading.
It can be scary and stressful to imagine having to leave everything and everyone you love behind in an instant, knowing that whoever and whatever is left behind will likely be lost. It is however, a scenario that you and I will personally face and urgently need to be getting ready for right now! It also begs the question: If all that will survive the coming disaster is what I can take with me, what can and should I be investing my time, effort, money and life into that will survive the coming destruction?
In Matthew 24 Jesus taught about the signs of the end of this world when He will return to gather His own and to judge the world. If you read this chapter, you will see that the signs are evident that we are in the last days and His coming is in short order. He tells us that no one knows the day or the hour but God the Father, but the signs point that the time is near—it could be at any moment! We had better be ready! We had better warn those we love and others that we do not want to see be destroyed to get ready also!
Jesus said that as it was in the day of Noah when the floods came and destroyed all of life that was not prepared for the storm, so it will be for those of us who are not ready when He returns. “For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark: and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”
I Corinthians 15 tells us His coming will be “In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye.” If we are not ready before He comes, we will not be ready when He comes! Just like the hurricane, mudslide or the tornado, once He gets here it will be too late to prepare! His salvation and his judgment will be swift, but our preparations now will determine which one we and others will face.
Psalms 49 tells us that no amount of wealth, prestige, success, recognition, memorials or possessions will be able to save us or earn us merit. None of those things can be taken with us when we go—they all will either be destroyed or left behind.
So, what can we take with us? The Bible is clear that all we can take with us is our salvation (if we have turned to God in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ), what we have invested in the Kingdom’s work, and the souls of others that we have led to faith in Jesus Christ.
Time is short! What and who will you take with you?