Are you ready?

That phrase can have a somewhat negative connotation to it. It’s almost like, “I’m ready, but I’m not so sure about you.” But it’s a question that we are asked and that we ask ourselves fairly often. Especially when we are wondering about something that we aren’t sure we are ready to undertake. Maybe you are learning to play an instrument and you try to play a piece of music above your skill level. Maybe you are learning to play a sport and you try to do something that is more advanced than your skill set. Maybe you are in a relationship and you push too soon, too fast and the other person isn’t ready for that level of commitment yet. Possibly you are trying to get into shape and you want to go run the LA Marathon long before you are ready to attempt such a physical undertaking. We experience, and watch our friends experience, things like this all the time. It seems like we are always hearing about stories like this. We try to do something we aren’t ready to do – and usually with poor results.
On the other hand, it seems that we need to try to do new things all the time to continue our growth. If I am playing the guitar, I just can’t play the same entry level songs all the time. At some point I need to try a more difficult song. I need to advance, to learn something new. The same thing is true with sports, getting fit and even relationships. We need to get better, or have a deeper/fuller relationship. It’s generally not healthy to just stay at the same spot or level all the time.

This presents an interesting conundrum. We need to advance, to learn, to move forward, but only when we are ready. How do we know when we are ready? How do we know if we are moving too slowly or too quickly? How do we maintain balance and keep moving forward and growing, but at the appropriate pace?

Schools have done a reasonable job at this. Students have certain levels that they should maintain and then they can move forward to the next level (class). But even the with all the years and effort that have been put into the educational system, it’s not perfect. Not every student performs well under that system. Some bloom early, some bloom late. Some students are great at memorization, some do better at application of principles, some are creative, and some are logical. We are all just a little different. So I’m not sure there is one answer to question of “am I ready for the next step?”. I think each of us is going to move through life slightly differently.

While there is no one answer that works for every situation, I think there are some principles we can apply.

1. Honest evaluation. Often times we aren’t honest with ourselves. When evaluating whether you are ready or not, don’t answer with what you’d like or wish to hear, but with reality. If you know you’ve only been playing the guitar for 2 months, then you know that you aren’t ready to play Eddie Van Halen’s toughest licks. Also some things are just going to take a while. If you are trying to recover from the loss of a loved one, or you are in recovery for an addiction, or you’re trying to recover from a life time of physical, emotional or sexual abuse – please realize that this is going to take a while. Be honest with your evaluation of where you are in that process.

2. Get the opinion of a trusted person. You’re best friend might not be your best option for this. They may not be as honest with you because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. But get the opinion of someone who you know will be honest. See if their evaluation of your progress matches with your evaluation.

3. Be prepared for growth bursts and defining moments. Things rarely grow linearly. They grow, then plateau, then grow again. My kids have huge growth burst now and again. All of the sudden they are inches taller than they were. Be prepared for God ordained growth bursts. I’m sure Noah didn’t think he was ready to build an ark. I wonder if Benaiah realized that the snowy day he went down into the pit with the lion and killed it was going to be recorded in history for everyone to read (reference 2 Samuel 23:20). There are moments when we grow and we are ready.

Now let’s ask the same question we asked at the beginning, this time with a positive connotation. Are you ready? Are you ready for what God wants to do in your life?

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