Some mottoes are solid enough to sustain us our whole life. How well I remember learning the Girl Scout motto, “Be prepared.” You could still wake me up from a dead sleep in the middle of the night and I would be able to recite the oath, too: “On my honor, I will try to do my duty to God and my country…” Those things we learn at such an early age are forever imprinted.
So what does it mean to be prepared at 65? Obviously it’s not just having spare batteries for your flashlight, matches in a waterproof tin, and dry kindling for a campfire, although those are still excellent practices. It’s not even stocking up gallons of purified water and canned goods in the basement in case of natural disaster, although I followed that advice prior to Y2K (remember that non event?). More recently we’ve thought seriously about what we would want to take with us should we have to evacuate our home due to wildfires. It could easily happen, and we want to be ready. But what else calls us to be prepared?
After a certain age it’s important to “have your affairs in order” as they say: to have all the legal end-of-life documents in place to make life much easier for your children and grandchildren when you go. That kind of advice can be found in any number of resources, and it’s important, but I’ve also picked up tips about being prepared merely by observation.
I’ve been blessed by friendships with several women much older than I who taught me pragmatic approaches to being prepared on a daily basis. For example, my friend Myrtle gave up driving at night, so she reluctantly but graciously accepted offers for a ride to book groups or organizational meetings. Myrtle made fabulous, unforgettable peanut brittle. One thing she did to be prepared was to always have small baggies of fresh peanut brittle to slip into the handbag of anyone chauffeuring her as a personal thank you. Much to my husband’s delight, more than a few of those bags ended up in my purse! She was prepared.
Planning ahead is a coping skill all my older friends cultivate. When we would arrive at an event, I would be digging in my purse for a pen and checkbook in order to pay the pre-arranged fee for lunch, while my older friend Denise simply handed over the check she had filled out in the comfort of her own home before leaving. She was prepared.
Now being prepared spiritually is what matters most to me. We’ve been to far too many funerals this year; most for people our age or younger. Like all who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, I have the blessed assurance of knowing where I am going when I die. I truly believe Jesus has gone to prepare a place for me (John 14:2). Yet I want to be prepared for whatever comes my way before I go to heaven by having the Word of God buried deep in my heart.
I’m beginning to wonder if I will live to see the day when all Christians, even in this country, are persecuted for our faith. If I’m ever incarcerated without a hymnal or a Bible, I want to have a wide selection of hymns and Bible verses memorized to sustain me! I guess the little girl in me who memorized the Girl Scout motto and oath, and earned all those badges on the sash in the photo, still wants to be prepared.