Floridians worked tirelessly to make preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Irma. From purchasing bottled water and batteries to filling up gas tanks and boarding up windows, everyone did what they could to ensure they would be ready to weather the storm. With the threat of a catastrophic hurricane aiming for the Sunshine State, no one wanted to be caught off guard.

As a native Floridian, it saddened me to think of the possible destruction that could come upon our state. Watching people at the grocery store, stocking up on supplies, I actually became tearful when I thought about the reasons why they were clearing out the shelves. While some of them were simply restocking their pantry, others were purchasing items out of desperation. They were not buying eight boxes of cereal or two cases of identical canned goods because the items were on sale. They were doing what they could to ease their fear of the unknown.

Some individuals were uncertain as to how long they will be without power. Evacuees who stayed in shelters waited apprehensively, wondering if they would return home only to find no home at all. Still others were afraid they would not even survive to assess the damages found on their property.

And so, preparations ensued with the idea that it was best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. At our home, we followed suit, boarding up our windows for the first time ever. Many people filled sandbags in an attempt to protect their homes and businesses from flood waters. Based on the storm’s path, there was a possibility it could come directly over us as a category 3 hurricane. The forecast was grim for nearly every inch of the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys as well. Fear was contagious.

As Hurricane Irma barreled up the west coast, all eyes were on the National Hurricane Center updates. When the hurricane made landfall, preparations had to cease. Everyone sought a secure location in which to ride out the storm, whether in their own homes, hotels, shelters, churches, or other structures. Time had run out. Irma would unleash her fury from coast to coast and north to south, bringing unprecedented devastation to much of the southeast.

Sadly, Hurricane Irma took the lives of dozens of people across the Caribbean and the state of Florida. Thousands of homes were either damaged or destroyed. Many homes are still underwater. Although the total cost of this storm is yet to be determined, it will certainly be one of the costliest storms in history.

Hurricane survivors are trying to piece their lives back together, grateful to be alive. Power outages are a minor inconvenience, especially for those of us who still have a roof over our heads to keep us dry. Gas shortages and the unavailability of perishable food in many areas brings little concern for people who are focused on holding their family a little bit closer, now that the enormity of the destruction has sunken in.

One moment, everyone was living their normal lives, going to work and school, visiting family and friends, enjoying every day activities. The next moment, normalcy became foreign. As the violent winds blew and the torrential rain fell, life changed. The power went out. Communities were decimated. Lives were lost.

As I watched the news and observed the destruction in this storm’s path firsthand in my own hometown, I realized the close parallel between the importance of being prepared for a hurricane and the even more critical need to be prepared for the return of Jesus Christ.

One day soon, a trumpet will sound. This is not a trumpet like the ones you find in a symphony orchestra, but a trumpet which will be heard around the world. Upon this trumpet call, the dead in Christ will rise first and those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (I Thessalonians 4:16-17). This is the moment when Jesus Christ returns to this earth in victory to take His children home. If Christ returns today, are you prepared?

Unlike a hurricane, there will be no meteorologists or newscasters warning people in advance. The headlines in the newspaper will never read, Christ Comes Back Tomorrow. Matthew 24:36 tells us, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” That is why we must be ready, prepared for His coming, every moment of every day. In the same way you do not want to be caught off guard in a horrific storm, you do not want to be found unprepared when the Lord returns to this earth.

Perhaps you are sitting there reading this, with the knowledge that your friends are saved, hoping that will count for something. Matthew 24:40-41 states, “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” You cannot rely on another person’s salvation to be your ticket to Heaven.

You could be thinking…I’m a good person. I try to do the right things. Certainly God will have mercy on me when it is all said and done. According to the Bible, we can never be good enough. Good works cannot save you. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). There is nothing we can do to deserve salvation. It is only by the grace of God that we can receive this priceless gift.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The Bible says we have all sinned (Romans 3:23), which is why we need redemption found only through the blood Jesus Christ shed on the cross of Calvary. Confess your sins today. Believe in Jesus Christ. Call on the name of the Lord and you shall be saved (Acts 2:21).

There is no need for supplies of any kind. Boarding up windows is useless. There is only one way to prepare for Christ’s return. Jesus said, “‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is the only way to obtain salvation. Receive His unending love and amazing grace today.

When Christ returns, there will be no emergency alert gracing the face of your smart phone or television screen. No one knows the day when Christ will return, except God Himself (Matthew 24:36). God’s Word says, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44).

Unlike an impending storm, there will be no warning. Once Jesus Christ returns, the window of opportunity to receive the gift of salvation will be closed. The opportunity is now. Make the most vital preparation of your life today.