“You are not to prepare”
’Tis the season of preparation. In Massachusetts today, we are preparing for the first winter storm, snow tires aligned and balanced, shovels poised.
But in today’s Gospel from Luke 21, Jesus tells us not to prepare. What gives? Is He that out of step with the rest of us?
As always, context is everything.
Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking, that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.”
When I was a stage performer with a magic troupe (you knew that, right?), I had a couple of monologs, each a minute in length. Every now and then, I would forget a line in mid-monolog—I just went blank, all empty in the head.
This experience was upsetting. There was no stage manager to feed me my line, so more than once I took a . . . very . . . long . . . pause.
When this happened several performances in a row, I began to get anxious about its happening the next time. I rememorized the speeches. I did all kinds of mental preparation. But only after much trial and failure did I learn the secret of remembering my lines:
Stop. Listen. Wait. It's there.
My mind, some might say my subconscious mind, had each next line ready and waiting for me. I simply had to get out of the way—stop all my mental efforting—and let the line through.
“I myself will give you a wisdom in speaking . . . ” says the Lord.
This experience as an actor in a magic show (mercifully behind me now) gave me an experience that helps me understand what I can do when “they” seize and persecute me, hand me over and have me led before kings and governors because of the name of Jesus.
Or anytime I want His will, not mine, to be done.
I can stop. Listen. Wait.