Seeing the chaos and corruption of this fallen world surrounding me, my thoughts have been directed to the end times. How soon are we to the end? Everyone who's ever lived has thought that they would live to see Jesus come back like a Thief in the Night. And all those people were wrong, so far.
Whether you think the world will end before you die or after is unimportant. What's important is . . . are you eager for it?
The Day of Judgment is approaching. It isn't negotiable like a due date for a school project. Once it is upon us, there's no begging for a retest. It's through.
Hebrews 9:27-28 ~
And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him.
Well, that was a lot to digest. Basically, it's reminding us that there is no time to waste! Get with the program, forget yourself, and lose yourself in His purpose for you!
Wowzers, that felt rather assertive. But how can it not be? This isn't one of those gentle topics that everyone enjoys hearing because it gives them a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. We're not discussing the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, or stories of Jesus' miracles. That sounds a little sacrilegious, but I'm not downplaying the importance of all the rest of God's words to us in the Bible. What I'm making a big deal about is why this topic is so aggressive!
Everyone tells us to love each other. To turn the other cheek. To pray nonstop. To take up our crosses daily. It sounds inspiring, it sounds challenging. Usually, after a big pep talk and having been all energized and pumped for action, we can dwell on what we were taught for days. Maybe even weeks. YC was a prime example. We were moved to tears, screaming, crying out to God, worshiping with all our hearts, raising out hands to the heavens, and we felt God at work. He was saying, "See? This is what you've been missing out on! This is what I want for you, but you keep thinking that school, friends, and family are all more important than Me!"
We go home totally recharged and wound up, eager to get started on everything we were told. At least... we can think about doing it. Better yet, let's share our experiences with our friends! Not do the challenges, per say, but just fill in our friends who missed out. Uhhhh.... nah. It's probably good enough to sum it all up in a journal entry. But, my hand's cramping pretty bad... I'm sure I can keep the whole experience vivid in my mind. Yeah, I'll just remember it now and then. Good enough.
See, the part that most pastors, even the greatest, most influential speakers forget to tell us, is that there is a ticking clock! We do NOT have all the time in the world! This is urgent business, guys. It would be a totally different scenario if God had told us the day and the hour that He was going to return. Most people would step up their act, turn over a new leaf, and start living for Him ASAP, especially those whose lives were getting close to that date. That's not how it works.
"However, 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."
I think we have it backwards. Shouldn't our attempts to be living for Christ be much more enthusiastic, seeing as we have no idea when Christ will return? It's a terrifying thought, to me. What if He shows up before I finish writing this post? It almost brings me to tears. There is so much that I've wanted to do, places I've wanted to go, and ways I've wanted to upgrade my faith to a deeper, more intimate level. I automatically assume that I have tons of time to get my head in the game. It isn't so! I don't know whether I will live out my full natural lifespan, or if I will even make it to 20! Whether my life is halted because Jesus comes back, or ends quickly because of a freak accident or fatal injury/disease, the point is, I don't know that I will have as long as I assume!
So, what am I doing worrying over my grades? Why am I freaking out over an embarrassing picture? What am I thinking when I stress over what others think of me? I should be worrying over the lost souls, and my inaction. Jesus could come back in two seconds, and I will not have saved a single soul from the Gates of Hell.
I mentioned before that the fact that we have no idea when Christ will return is a terrifying prospect to me. I said that intentionally because, although it's true, it's sad. It reveals something about my heart: I'm not doing everything in my power to make sure I'm ready for the Day of Judgement. The first verse I wrote out, Hebrews 9:28b says, "He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him."
If we're honest with ourselves, how many of us are EAGER to stand before the Judge? If you were given three options:
a.) Jesus can come back this very instant.
b.) Jesus can come back right before the end of your natural life.
c.) Jesus can come back long after you've been gone.
The way you answer that question will show you how well prepared your heart is, and how well you are doing at your job: following Christ.
If you can honestly say that you would be overjoyed if Jesus came back this instant, you must be a perfect person. Our sins will be exposed, we will feel shameful. Especially people like me, who have felt the urge and desire to go and make disciples, but haven't found the courage to do it! When we are standing before the Judge, what will He say to us? "Well done, good and faithful servant?" I wonder.
I think I would answer with letter B. If Jesus came at the end of my life, I hope I'd be ready by then. I'd be given the rest of my life to prepare. To go all out for Jesus, to make some serious changes, give everything I own away, and be a die hard missionary.
It sounds great that I said those things, and I think they are true. Why don't I do those things? Because I don't know when He's coming back and, for some reason, that makes the whole deal somewhat surreal. How do I know that He won't come back just before the end of my natural life, hmm? Why don't I start living as if He will? Why don't we all start living like He's coming back tomorrow?!
This world, this country, this town, this school, this church, this family, this person would be so different if we knew that Jesus was coming tomorrow. How much time would we spend on Facebook? Do you really think we would say that rude comment to that person we dislike? Would we ignore the opportunity to tell a lost sheep of Christ and His salvation? No! We would know that it was our last chance to make a difference in the world, we wouldn't want to waste our last moments.
Well, these could very well be our last moments. If, right after you read this sentence, the world ended . . . . would you be ready? When you think about all your goals and ambitions, all your New Year's Resolutions and promises that are unfulfilled, would you feel very ready? If the world ended and God said, "Time's up!" I know I would be filled with regret. So many times have I passed by someone I knew was in need. So many times I neglected to provide my entire self in worship. So many times I held back when I should have burst forth. So many times, I was too shy and too nervous to answer a question. So many times I snapped at a sibling, but didn't apologize. And I would look back upon those times, and realize that they literally had been my last moments on earth. Had I known that, we would have seen my actions take on an entirely different course.
Matthew 24:44 ~
You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.
Those hours when you least expect the Second Coming are usually the moments when you are trapped in sin. Maybe you can't look away from an unhealthy website, movie, or magazine. Maybe they're the moments when you are gossiping, or thinking cruel thoughts about someone else. Maybe they are the moments when you are lying to someone. Any of those moments, those moments when you least expect it, Jesus may show up, and you will be caught with your hand in the cookie jar. You can no longer go back and fix your mistakes. There is no more second chances. "He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to those who are eagerly waiting for Him."
The more I read that verse, the more it gives me chills. He will come, and bring salvation to those who are ready. Those who were eagerly waiting His return. At the moment, I'm not one of those people, and that's a really frightening realization.
We all have a set time. I assume I'll live to 80, but this could very well be the last thing I do on this earth. That's why we must live in the moment. Why plan for tomorrow, if we don't know what it will hold? (James 4:14) We may say, "When I grow up, I'm going to be a missionary ASAP and start spreading the gospel!" (Which is similar to my thoughts at the present.) The thing is, we have no guarantee that we will grow up. We're all allotted a certain amount of time. When it's used up, it's gone. And every moment that we had will be evaluated. How did we spend it? How could we have spent it? How should we have spent it?
The shame and regret I will feel is enormous . . . but hopefully that regret will last only until this moment. I really don't want to waste my life, however long it will be.
If this is my last post, I want it to really impact someone.
If tomorrow's my last day, then I don't want to hold back from the full potential of the Holy Spirit working in me!
I can't wait for the day when I can honestly pray, "God, I can't wait for your return!"