Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 21: Are you still here?

Remember last year when Harold Camping predicted that Jesus would return and the rapture would happen at 6 pm on May 21, 2011?  At 6:01, I sent a text message to my friend and pastor, Kris, saying "Hey, didn't you get raptured?  I'm up here in Heaven and we don't see you anywhere.  Joe is excited because it turns out Jesus is a homebrewer".  For those of you that don't know, my husband Joe brews his own beer.  Kris replied to me, "Guess that means I'm not  Too bad Jesus only brews O'douls."

At 6:03, I got a text from another friend, who asked me if I had been raptured, because she was sure if I was gone, the rapture did indeed happen and she missed it.  I thought about being obnoxious and not returning her text, because this friend in particular would have seriously freaked out, but in the name of friendship, I sent her back a  text saying, "Nope, silly.  Still here.  I guess the correct answer was Mormon," which is something that only avid viewers of South Park would understand.

This was obviously all done sarcastically, and yes, my friends and I tend to have kind of a sick sense of humor, but it was the first thing I thought about this morning when I woke up to see the world was still here.

Have you ever thought about why it is that God doesn't tell us when the exact time of the end of the world is?    The bible tells us that not even His Son Jesus knows.  What is so important about this one particular piece of information that He chooses to keep it so secret?

And why are humans so enraptured with the thought of figuring that piece of information out?  Have you ever wondered what would happen if somehow someone did correctly figure out the date?  Would God look down at us and say, "Darn it, they figured it out.  What now?"

First of all, I don't think God tells us the exact time because we would think it was really important, but in the grand scheme of things, it isn't at all important.  The bible tells us that we should recognize the signs of the end times, but I believe that it is so that we are prepared and not deceived by all the craziness that will ensue (or is ensuing) during that time.  But if we actually have that personal relationship with Christ, if we are confident in our Salvation, then why does it matter when the world will end?

In Isaiah 38, Hezekiah is very ill and Isaiah comes to him and says, "This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover."  Now, in that same chapter, Hezekiah petitions God to extend his life and God does extend his life 15 years, but I still think the piece of advice from the Lord that Isaiah spoke to him is good advice for us.  We know that the end is imminent for us, whether it is in a mass holocaust or it is an illness or accident that takes us.  At some point we are going to die and not recover, so it is a good idea to have our house in order and be prepared.

But isn't that what Sanctification, growing toward Jesus, and even the whole season of Advent is about?  As we allow Christ to work in us, as we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us and guide us, we are putting our "house" together, piece by piece.  God is not so concerned about when the end comes as much as He is concerned that we are preparing our hearts and souls for it, and by not telling us the time, it is His way of encouraging us to focus on the preparation and not the event.

Why is it though that we are so concerned with the date?  It is because of our fleshly desire to control.  We fight giving up control constantly.  The truth is, if our lives are in line with what Christ wants of us, our lives should look exactly the same whether we know the date or not.  If we really trust God and trust His goodness, then whenever He decides to take us is the best time for all of us to go.  It is a sign that our desires are lined up with God's when we can look at the end of the world or at our own death and can say, "Ehh.  I'm not that worried.  God's got this."

Activity:  Think about your attitude toward the end of the world or the thought of your own death.  What are your initial reactions toward it?  What is keeping you from having the attitude of, "ehh, I'm not that worried because God has got this?"  What can you do about those things keeping your from that attitude now that will help you to "get your house" more in order?

Prayer:  This is the day the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Spend your prayer time today thanking God for the day He has made.  Ask Him to give you opportunities to rejoice and be glad.  Pray that He searches your heart and shows you the things in your life that are keeping you from enjoying each and every day.

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