There is a local restaurant called Seasons 52. It’s incredible! The menu changes every week to use produce and ingredients that are “in season” – aka readily available at the proper time for harvest. This serves a few purposes.
#1. There is always something new for folks to try on the menu so they keep coming back to see what Chef has come up with.
#2. Prices are kept low because when you are using things in season the cost to make these incredible dishes is greatly reduced. (Remember the line from Hello Dolly! “I don’t care if oysters aren’t in season. Anyone can have them in season. I want them OUT of season!”)
#3. The restaurant can naturally capture the mood of the week with soups for dreary winter weeks; salads for melty summer weeks; sandwiches for hopeful spring days.
The thing is they have to be prepared. They have to know what is at peak; where to get it; and what to do with it that will create the best meal. There’s some study involved in all that!
2 Timothy 4:1-5
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Imagine you have been praying for someone’s salvation for months, years even, and they suddenly come to you asking questions about God, faith and how to become saved. Will you readily have the answers? What if you see a friend floundering in a sin that they deemed perfectly acceptable? Will you be prepared to instruct and reprove with love and patience? What if suddenly you come under persecution and ridicule for your faith? Will you have the faith chops to stand?
Yesterday was day one of VBS and everything was going swimmingly for this Rec lady. And then in the middle of our second to last group, thunder rolled through. Not sure how you feel about thunderstorms but I personally am not a fan. So my co-leader and I had to move 100+ children, youth and adult volunteers inside; reset our games; replace a game (they frown on water games in the sanctuary – go figure!); and keep it all rolling.
Now suppose we hadn’t even addressed where our back up area was. What if we didn’t have a replacement game for the water? What if we had planned a back up game but didn’t have any of the supplies to make it happen? What if we had just decided to go with our luck and stay outside?
Let’s revisit the Seasons 52 philosophy.
#1. If we are prepared with God’s word, we will have the answers for those who are seeking new knowledge of God and salvation.
#2. When we have a firm understanding of our faith, the cost of sharing it is minimal. In fact, we are usually more blessed with each sharing and profession. I can’t speak for anyone else but when I have the opportunity to share what God has given me, I almost feel like I am paid in joy, peace, and encouragement!
#3. If I know my Scripture, I have the words others need in the timing that they need them. If I have verses of joy in my mental pocket, I can rejoice with friends. I can encourage in times of trouble. I am equipped to instruct in light of questions.
But there’s work involved in being prepared. You have to study the Scripture. You have to know what you believe. You have to have resources. Sometimes being prepared means picking up an extra Bible and having it in your car to hand to the seeker. Sometimes being prepared means having a spare meal in your freezer to take to a home in need of ministry. Perhaps it means being ready to drop everything just to pray with a friend in tears.
The middle of this passage makes me sad. They may not want to hear what you have to say and they will look for anyone else to tell them what they want to hear instead. But we must not fall to the temptation to sugarcoat our message in the name of mass appeal.
Verse 5 Be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
This turns it around for me. The word evangelist is terrifying and encouraging all at once. Share your faith and see the salvation of souls. There is amazing hope! Fulfill your ministry – see it all the way through in spite of hardship. I don’t know how anyone else feels about seeing a finished project but there are few things that give me as much encouragement or excitement!
We planned VBS for months. In my head there was a countdown to Day 1. But last week things just felt like they were going sideways at every turn. We continued to prepare. Even up to the last minute yesterday things were falling into place. At 10:30 yesterday morning Bottom Middle looked at me as I ricocheted around the house and said, “Mama! Are you drunk?!” Call me Pentecost Peter!
How excited and energized we become when we have prepared for God’s work and have the opportunity to fulfill the ministry!
What season is it? It really shouldn’t matter!