When your enlistment is about to expire in the Navy you’re called a “short-timer.” One of my jobs on the Destroyer, USS WALLER, was to prepare the discharge paper work for those getting out. I’ve seen dozens of men make short-timer chains out of soft drink pop-tops. One guy had 100 days left and he made his chain and wore it around his waist every day. He would remove one link with each day that passed. When it got too small to wear around his waist, he put it around his neck. I hated to see this guy coming to the Ship’s office because he always wanted to make sure I was getting everything ready for his discharge. This guy already had a job waiting for him. He had set a wedding date. He applied for the GI bill home loan benefit. He bought his set of civilian clothes to wear off the ship. He didn’t miss a beat! That’s the way it was for most of them. They were so enamored by what awaited them that they couldn’t wait to get ready.

I wonder why it’s not that way with us and eternity. In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the parable of the ten virgins who failed to be ready at the bridegroom’s return. They were not received into the banquet. Jesus says to his followers, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” The word “watch” is a Greek word that means “be prepared.” It might also be translated “get ready.”

It was the beginning of a holiday weekend, and the service station was crowded with motorists and cars. Finally the attendant hustled up to the local minister, who had been waiting in line for quite some time. “Sorry about the delay,” the attendant apologized. “It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for the trip he’s planned.” The pastor smiled. “I know what you mean,” he said, “I have the same problem in my business.”

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)