Prepare, repent – or carry a stick

John the Baptist is the precursor who announced the Lord’s coming and who prepared the people of his day and us by preaching the “baptism of repentance.”  Repentance means in Greek a changing of one’s mind, the taking of a new direction, or a conversion.  John wanted his followers to turn away from sin and turn toward God.

John tells us that if we don’t prepare for Jesus’ coming, we do so at our own peril.

Once a certain village king was called to make a journey to another kingdom. He put one of his subjects in charge of preparing everyone for the trip.

As they were making their way through the forest, the sojourners encountered a tiger. The king requested a gun from the subject he put in charge. His subject told him that he hadn’t thought to bring a gun. The king became enraged – “You’re such a fool! How could you have forgotten to prepare for any such possibility on our journey?” Then handing him a stick he said, “Here – take this stick and lead us to our destination. And then carry it always with you until you find someone who is a bigger fool than you, and then you can pass it on to him.”

The subject kept the stick for many years. When the king became old and ill, the man whom he had rewarded with the stick for being “a fool” arrived to see the king. He was still carrying the stick. He said to the king – “Have you prepared for this journey you are about to take?” The king looked at him with surprise and said – “I’m near death. How would I have prepared for such a journey?” “Then,” said the subject, gently handing him the stick, “take this stick and keep it with you.” He walked away quietly.

You must resolve, in this season of Advent, to prepare for Jesus by turning away from sin, and turning toward God.  If you fail to heed John’s words, you should not be surprised if someone gives you his stick.