I noticed recently, as I was looking up something online, an article by National Geographic, titled: "Is The World Ending This Week?" I didn't click on the article, so I don't know what new science they have, that makes them think God changed His mind about the "nobody's gonna know" part…
But it did get me thinking. It's not that I think the world's not going to end soon… When I look around I think there's no way Jesus can tarry much longer. The world we live in is so corrupt and evil, everywhere you turn, you can find broken-ness and sin. It seems like God's patience must be getting exhausted, so yes, I believe the world could end at any time. The "wars and rumors of wars" are definitely all through the news these days, not to mention hurricanes, earthquakes and tornados; but I seriously doubt the end will be on a day when scientists predict it.
I was saddened, in a conversation I had recently, with an older conservative Mennonite lady, who was telling me about a thunderstorm she had witnessed while on a trip. She said the storm was so intense, and lasted so long, she thought the world was ending. I smiled at this, but she went on, "I really thought it was the end!" she exclaimed, "'Deed, I was so skeered!"
I wanted to reassure her that when Jesus comes back for us, we don't need to be afraid, but I didn't say anything, for two reasons: one, I understand the culture she comes from, and is still a part of, (I grew up there,) and two, she changed the subject before I had a chance. But I have thought about it many times since: "What should I have said to her? And how do I really feel about living in the end times?"
As if I hadn't been considering all this enough already, I happened to meet up with a woman today in Walmart who had more news for me. Apparently the rapture is coming! On September 30! I must have looked skeptical.
"If you don't believe it," she said, "I will tell you some Bible prophecy experts that you can look up on your computer, and you can see for yourself." (I didn't ask her what they have to say about Matthew 24:36.)
She asked if I'm ready for the end of the age, and I responded that heaven would be a welcome change after this wicked old earth. She seemed surprised that I wasn't afraid, and stammered around a bit, then agreed with me, that for sure it will!
After she prayed a blessing on me and my family, our conversation ended and we went our seperate ways. But the conversation I'd been having with myself continued. I pondered whether I am doing enough in my community to prepare others for Jesus' coming. I thought back on my life, and thanked God again, for bringing me as far as He has, and asked Him to continue guiding me in the future, however short or long that future is.
As a teenager, having been raised in a setting that didn't focus much on the gift of salvation, but more on the works required to avoid excommunication, I had a pretty bad attitude. Because I didn't know how to make sense of everything, I was rebellious and confused; and the thought of Jesus returning struck absolute terror into my heart.
I knew about Jesus dying for my sins, so I could be saved, but we were taught by our ministry that saying "I'm saved" is judging, and we're not to judge.
They spoke very critically of other churches, including the one I'm part of now, saying "they believe in 'once saved, always saved' and 'they preach everybody right into heaven' at their funerals." This "being saved" stuff was false doctrine. We were only to hope.
I think the most positive thing I ever heard in that setting about someone who was deceased, was the statement, "I believe we can have a bright hope." Somehow this didn't seem very hopeful to me.
I loved reading stories in books, where someone would give their heart to Jesus, and their whole life would just turn around. But I was unsuccessful at getting my life to do the same. I didn't understand progressive sanctification, so when I would give my heart to Jesus, and He didn't automatically make me a good person, I just took it back into my own hands again.
I was given a New Testament in fifth or sixth grade at school. In the back there was a place where you could write the date where you committed your life to the Lord. I signed it once in fifth grade. But I was still a bad kid, so a few months later, I erased the signature and date. Over the next few years, I probably signed that commitment three or four more times, but it didn't change a thing. I was still the student that my teachers probably remember with shudders to this day.
Believe me, I was completely serious when I signed my name, every time! I just didn't have the faith to believe that Jesus truly would save me, or the understanding to realize that it was still going to be a struggle… so, when I didn't find myself becoming like Jesus, I would just give it up.
I was baptized when I was 18, in the church I grew up in. By that point I had gotten into the Bible, and though I still had things to learn, and much growing up to do, Jesus had started making changes in me. I finally felt like I was experiencing His salvation, and my relationship with Him was becoming more real and fulfilling.
Now, I look back, and I thank God for the way He has guided my life. He's blessed me in so many ways, and led me to where I am now.
I am thankful for my heritage, as it's part of who I am; but I'm glad to have moved on to a church that is more biblical and more spiritual. I'm so blessed to have friends that I can have deep conversations with, and a church family that cares, not only about whether or not I follow the church rules, but also about where my heart is, and whether I'm experiencing victory in Jesus or not.
I'm thankful for my Christian friends outside of my local church family, my brothers and sisters in Christ, who also encourage me in my walk with God, and inspire me to follow Him more closely.
I am especially thankful these days, that through Jesus I can anticipate eternity in Heaven, whether I die, or the Lord returns first. Instead of fear, I can look forward to Christ's coming with joy!
So where will you be, when the rapture comes? I pray when Jesus comes back for His bride, we will all be ready and waiting for Him.
I love my little life here, but I'm excited about going to heaven, and I pray I'll see you there!