Writing from the Christmas season, preparations are daily and seemingly never-ending. Just today (a weekend day, I might add), I spent a lot of time preparing gifts for the people in my life that provide various services for me (i.e. – mailman, pediatrician, vet, newspaper deliverer, etc.) by putting together cards with money or shopping for fruit baskets. The amount of preparing seems overwhelming at times, as the list of gift recipients seems endless, but hey, “tis the season,” and I know I’ve only got so much time left before that big day. If you are anything like me, you spend lots of time before Christmas preparing, so that when the day comes, you will not be caught off guard. My Christmas shopping begins during the summer when I spot the perfect gift and store it away for months later. For me, Christmas shopping needn’t be at Christmas time. When athletes need to be in shape for a season, they don’t start training on the first day of the season. They are working to stay sharp and in shape throughout the year, and by the time the season arrives, they are in top form and more than ready to succeed in their respective sport. Much like an athlete, I train for Christmas well before the season is here, so that I can make it the best season possible. As a season, I also know that Christmas will come to an eventual end, and there will be a time for regrouping. As athletes, they work their hardest during the season. Once the season is over, they may spend some time healing and resting from their efforts, but they don’t get completely out of shape either: they are still preparing for their season. Throughout the Bible, we are warned that Christ may come back at any time, and that we should be ready for Him. This time period may not be the season of His return, but it may be soon. 2 Timothy 4.2 tells us that as Christians we should “be prepared in season and out of season” because His return will be sudden and unexpected. We don’t know the season, so we must prepare out of season. The implication of Timothy’s statement, and of my comparison between Christmas preparation and athletes, is that a season is finite: there is a definite beginning and end to it. Seasons come and go, good and bad. For some, along with the Christmas season, they may be in a season of joy and celebration right now, one where it is easy to praise Him in all things. For others, they may be in a season of depression and frustration, where each day wears upon them, dragging them further down than they thought possible. Either way, Christ desires us to be prepared regardless of the time. Now that’s easy to say, but if you are in the latter of these two described seasons, you don’t feel much like being prepared for Christ. So how can you work towards preparedness if you are stuck in a season of wretchedness and misery? Remember the finiteness of the season. There is great strength, happiness, and relief to be found in the knowledge that a season will eventually end. You may feel completely trapped by the current situation that you are in, thinking about how valueless everything around you seems, but know that there will be an end to that season, and renewal awaits right around the corner. This current season will be over at some point, and you can rejoice in the eventual coming of its end, rediscovering your desire for preparedness in that fact. Amen.