I've been on way too many diets. Most have not helped me. Here's the main reason - they were not lifestyle changes. They were temporary fixes to a permanent problem. They were based on deprivation and will power. Here's what has worked. When I made changes to my eating habits that were healthy, tasty, fueled my body, and extremely satisfying. It took work at first, but as the changes became new habits, it became easier. And my body craved the new foods. I felt like this was a new life for me, not a desperate attempt to cheat nature.
I think this story of Jesus' is similar. He wasn't asking people to go on a fad diet - to strive through worry and intimidation to stay awake in the middle of the night. This approach is bound to fail because it's not genuine nor is it lasting. What will work is a lifestyle change - changes that are satisfying because they fit right. Behaviors and attitudes that become new habits because they are good and healthy, lasting, and satisfying. This is the kind of readiness and preparation that we can sustain until the day Jesus calls us home.
“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.