Victory Loves Preparation

I watched Jason Statham’s movie, The Mechanic last night. In it, he plays Arthur Bishop, a professional assassin known as the (tada!) Mechanic because he skillfully makes his hits appear like accidents, suicides or crimes of petty criminals. He does these through very thorough and careful preparation, spending much time researching about his targets, observing them, internalizing their quirks and routines and habits, so he can come up with the best “accidental” death to use.
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In a well-played scam even he didn’t foresee right away, his employer had him kill his mentor, Harry McKenna, with the latter’s own gun, inscribed with a Latin quotation, “Amat victoria curam.” “Victory loves preparation.” Harry’s son, Steve, sought vengeance on his father’s killers, so Bishop took him under his wing to learn their trade. Later, Steve found out Bishop killed his father and plotted to kill him at a gas station, using his father’s pistol to fire at the truck while gas leaked under it. It exploded, apparently killing Bishop.
 
Steve goes back to the Bishop’s house, playing a record on the turntable Bishop forbade him to touch and taking out the car, a vintage Jaguar Bishop’s been restoring for two years, out for a ride. He notices a note on the passenger side that said: “Steve, if you’re reading this then you’re dead! Bishop,” Steve manages a laugh before both the house and car explodes as well. Next we see Bishop walking away from the gas station and getting on another truck.
 
I know it’s a violent movie with themes of vengeance and murder, but what stuck to me was how Bishop was always prepared. He was never caught off-guard. Even at the very end, he anticipated every possible outcome, mainly because he came to know Steve well, so in the end, he still got the upper hand.
 
I’m sure a lot of us can relate to this. How many exams, interviews or presentations have we failed because we lacked the necessary preparation? And how many have we aced because we took the time to study, rehearse and research prior to the events? Even if there are times we are not actually victorious or didn’t get the results we wanted in the first place, we were able to sail through it because we were confident. Because we got ready. Even relationships fail if one is not prepared to commit or stand up for the other person. Even in our calls, as collectors, we have a part of the call called “setting the stage” – preparing the customer emotionally and logically to answer our next questions so that they won’t get offended.
 
The quote just kinda popped in my head as we concluded a four-week series called The End at church tonight. Weeks 1 and 2 tackled how we anticipate and prepare for the second coming of Jesus. Week 3 talked about Hell. Unfortunately, I was on a trip last week and missed it (will get the pod cast soon!). Tonight’s topic was Heaven, and this got everyone excited. Who doesn’t want to go to Heaven, right?  Heaven has been depicted in many ways, usually a white paradise where angels play gold harps on fluffy white clouds, saints abound, and only “good and kind” people can go to.
 
Our pastor kept mentioning that conspiracy theorists and so-called prophecies said the end of the world is on December 21, 2012. As Christians, we know that when Jesus comes back, “He will come like a thief in the night.” Unannounced, subtle, without much fanfare. But more than His second coming, we should be concerned on what we are doing while waiting for our Lord’s return. In the same manner that we Filipinos turn our house upside down to clean it in anticipation of balikbayan guests, or how many hours we spend in front the mirror getting ready for a date with our crush, shouldn’t our preparation for our Lord and Savior’s coming back be our topmost priority in life?
 
To accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior is our only salvation, not by being good boys and girls, or praying to idols and saints or just simply believing that God exists. We don’t just obey God because we want to go to Heaven. We obey Him out of love, so we can look forward to Heaven as a reward.
 
In one of my favorite verses, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
 
This is something that I pray for each day. It’s easy to hold on to my relationship with God when I’m at church or at a VG meeting, or during the Encounter or when things are going well. It’s easy to praise Him when blessings are pouring in. But in times of pain and struggle, I pray constantly to continue to seek Him, even when I don’t always see or understand right away His plan or purpose. And I think this is one preparation Jesus is asking of us: that we put Him above everything else. Jesus is our victory, and we should very well be prepared.
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