Texas beaches along the Gulf of Mexico stretch far and flat. Long and lonely they offer no resistance to a hurricane’s windy blast or tidal surge. Realizing this, builders perch homes on stilts so the wind and waves will pass under them. For three successive summers Bill and Babe Renfro let my family vacation at their beach house outside of Galveston.

During our second visit I knew beyond a reasonable doubt that no other beach house had ever bent and bowed under such a mountainous pile of wet towels, dirty clothes, plastic rafts, beach balls, bathing suits, dirty dishes and other assorted sand caked clutter. While the thought of transforming the cabin from chaos to clean concerned me, I knew we were up to the task. After all, the vacation had been fun and we knew that a failure to clean the stilted structure would offend our friends, show a lack of appreciation and diminish the chances of a return visit.

Like a damsel in distress Cindy surveyed the mess. “You’re sure we don’t have to be out of here until tomorrow afternoon?” she asked.

Toasted by the sun and roasted by the sea I assured her that we had a day to clean house. “It’s a good thing,” she said.

No sooner had the words left her mouth than we heard a soft rap on the door followed by a rasp from each of us. Like two deer caught in the headlights of an approaching car we stared at the front-door as it slowly swung open. With the silence of a shadow Bill and Babe stepped into the cluttered cabin. Instantly, their mouths dropped down and their eyes popped out as though someone had pumped their head full of air.

“We thought you were coming tomorrow,” Cindy stammered.

“Maybe we should go have a bite to eat and return a little later,” Babe said. They left as quietly as they had entered leaving us embarrassed and energized.

The unexpected return of someone who has entrusted you with something of value has a stunning affect made more stunning when you’re unprepared.

Jesus didn’t want his followers to get caught with their lives in disarray when he returned. That’s why when focused on his future return he stressed the importance of readiness. He told his disciples, “Keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour of my return” (Matthew 25:13).


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