Years ago, I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Jesus is coming soon. Look busy!”

Another read, “Jesus is coming soon… and He’s ticked!”

As you drive around the greater Crestview area, or any town or city, houses, churches, and businesses have signs that give the message that Jesus is coming soon. I have heard and seen people standing on street corners and in front of stores conveying the same message.

Warnings of our Lord’s imminent return have resounded for the past 2,000 years. For centuries pastors, scholars and laypersons have tried to predict the date of his Second Coming and have failed. Cults have sprung up in anticipation of this event only to disband in disillusionment.

To me, it is a sign of arrogance when someone tries to predict when the Second Coming of our Lord will take place. It is trying to out-guess or out-smart God. That will never happen.

But let’s say someone does correctly predict the day. Then what? To whom will that person boast? Should that person be swept into heaven on that day, no one in heaven will care. If the person remains behind, others will scoff at the person for getting the date correct, but say the person spent too much time in prediction rather than preparation.

The point is, Jesus himself said he didn’t know when he would be returning. He said, “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”

So, what are we to do? Be ready at all times. Jesus said, “You must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

Yes, we must be prepared for his return at all times. The key is preparation, not prediction. Our hearts, minds and souls must be constantly immersed in the ways of the Lord.

As you prepare your home for Christmas, remember to prepare your heart as well. As you go about purchasing gifts to exchange with family and friends, ask yourself what gift you give to the Lord.

Will your shopping be done, and your home be decorated by Dec. 25? Probably so.

Will your heart and soul be ready on the day Jesus returns to take you to himself? Hm…

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.