There is something I have wanted to share my thoughts about for quite some time now, and to be honest, I am not quite sure what all has played into why I have held back. But after praying quite earnestly over the past year and a half or so, I have finally come to the place where it is clear that it’s time for me to share it.
I just know it, so I am just doing it.
I have come to the place where I have accepted that it is really true: Christians are to look forward with great anticipation to the return of Jesus Christ!
- We are not to fear it…
- We are not to put it on the back burner…
- We are not to shy away from talking about it…
- We are to watch for it, and live our lives now as though He could come back for us…Any minute now.
Scripture makes this clear. Crystal clear.
Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13
After my mother went home to be with Jesus about four years ago, I felt oddly inspired about really studying prophecy, and the return of Jesus. At the time it seemed like a strange thing to immerse myself in and I didn’t fully understand why this kept coming back to me over and over again – this almost nagging feeling that I was supposed to do it. Why wasn’t I feeling like I was supposed to study the part of scripture that would offer me comfort during this time of grief? What about the feel-good psalms? Or how about the sections in the Word about sadness, peace during trials, or comfort offered by the Holy Spirit?
Then I stopped asking why and just immersed myself in all of it. And now I understand.
I understand that this is our blessed hope. Looking forward to Christ’s return is the ultimate celebration – the ultimate peace and joy for a true believer – it is what we are to live for; our eternity with HIM, and taking everyone that we can with us. And we will see those believers we loved who have already left this earth to boot! Talk about comfort! Talk about peace! Talk about joy!
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
You see, for about a year prior to my mom’s death, my relationship with God started changing. A lot of other things were occurring in our lives all at the same time that were causing me to basically fall on my face. It took a while before I was able to see that instead of falling on my face to the ground, I needed to fall upon my face in submission to the Lord. I was hanging on, you see ~ hanging on to the semblance of control that I thought that I had or was supposed to have through all of these situations. I was still not understanding it all – the need for true surrender.
I was losing hope.
Friends, I was still so caught up in the old school, man-made mentality of bucking up under stress, trial and pressure. I was still doing my best to take it all as it came, juggle it to the best of my own ability, and throw a bit of prayer in here or there. I was not handing it ALL over to Jesus. And I still don’t sometimes. But I am aware that I do this at least now. And that’s a good thing.
“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” Revelation 16:15
Death seemed to surround me. If not physical death, the death of other things that made life seem…worth living. The death of control over my work schedule, the death of balance in my home life, the death of controlling my own outcomes, the death of my own mama, the death of a girl at work right after my mother passed away.
Just death. Death to self had begun, and it wasn’t pretty at first. But God was awakening something wonderful inside of me through that very “death” process. I was beginning to change.
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:52
After mama died, a part of me seemed to die as well. But as more and more time passes I realize a new part of me has been birthed – and it is growing now. I know what it is to really be “born again” now. This is the part that is the most important part of everything I have ever known. It’s the child of God – the one who realizes now that she was not meant to simply accept the gift of salvation offered to her by Jesus, but to also make Him the LORD of her life.
All of it. Every single nook and crevice needs to be lit up with Jesus.
For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:27
So how did this weird and strange nudging to study end times after mama died tie into all of this? Why in the world would the Lord lead me to immerse myself in something that seems so morbid? How did doing just exactly that (along with Jesus every step of the way) take me out of the darkness of death and all that is frightful, morbid, or daunting about it, and into the light and hope and expectation that comes from looking for Jesus in every. single. thing.?
Well, let’s start with this:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
No matter how dark or morbid we think it may seem to think about the end of the world as we know it, if we truly study and pray about what Jesus says about it all, it is the exact opposite of that which is true. It is something awesome, something wonderful, something to look forward to with GREAT anticipation, joy and expectation. It is HIS return for us that we are to focus upon, not the end of the world. It is the beginning of all that He has promised that will come to fruition for us as the world the way we know it today starts to diminish, and He ushers in the eternity we will know forever. The life that will not pass away.
Our first death is not our death. For those who follow after and believe in Christ, it is only the beginning.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
I don’t have surrender down pat – not by any stretch of the imagination. But I can say that I have a different relationship with Jesus now than I did before all of this. The promise He makes about receiving a special blessing upon reading, praying about, and studying the book of Revelation and all that Christ promises about returning for us is true…it’s something I cannot fully explain, but it is unmistakably there.
You have to really do it to experience it. Words simply can’t fully express it.
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. Revelation 1:3
These things I am sharing about are not popular things, even amongst Christians ~ and I know it. But God has shown me so much through this, that it would be wrong for me not to share it. I live differently now because of the things He has revealed to me through facing my fears about “end times” and seeing it the way Jesus tells us to – with a spirit of anticipation and joy about His imminent return. There’s just no other way I can look at it now. I grieve over what I know is coming all at the same time. Yet, I just want to focus all the more upon loving others so they might want to know Jesus the way that I do.
It makes me care MORE about those who are lost to Him, friends. Much more.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:3
Yes, Christ tells us to await His return eagerly. I am tired of all the hiding that we ~ who can sometimes be lukewarm for Jesus ~ do when it comes to this subject. I’m tired of the excuses I hear all the time like “if we get too caught up thinking about end time prophecy we don’t live in the now” and the like.
Isn’t that the point? Isn’t it the point to get caught up in Jesus? It is supposed to make us live the now much differently if we stay aware and keep our eyes wide open about what Christ says is coming. He spent a lot of time telling us to live a certain way for a reason – and that reason wasn’t simply to enjoy this life with no promise of the real one – the important one – the eternal one we get to look forward to living with Him.
That truth is not something I want to push to the background of my heart.
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 22: 42-44
We are admonished not to go to sleep. We are cautioned to be on guard (not morbid, mind you, but on guard nonetheless). Jesus goes as far as to say we should look forward to His return, and that in doing so, we will not live for this world, but we will live differently than we would have otherwise while we are still here!
Well, this has proven to be true in my own life, I can assure you. I see things differently now. I am not happy about the horrible things that will occur before the tribulation is over and the millennial reign begins, but I can say with no doubt that I no longer live this life thinking it’s the end all of everything.
It is only the beginning. We haven’t seen nothin’ yet!
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2
The first death, for a Christian, is only a necessary step to beginning our eternal life with Christ Jesus. Maybe I will experience that first death one of these days soon, and maybe I will be raptured out of here before it happens. Only God knows.
I don’t hate this life, but I don’t cling to it the same way that I used to. I don’t live for this world. I still do far more than I probably should, but the realization that it is just a pit stop is always in the forefront of my mind. I thank Jesus for that gift, amongst so many others He has given me.
Quite frankly, the thing I find most difficult, is living in that truth – the reality that this is not my home ` but making the most of it all at the same time. THAT is where I need His divine intervention the most sometimes. God is working on me in that area in a big way right now. I can’t wait to see what He reveals to me about that.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. John 17:16-18
One thing I have really awakened to is this: In our endeavor as Christians not to predict the day or hour of Christ’s return, we sometimes go too far the other way in the process. We should NEVER chastise anyone who looks forward to the rapture or Christ’s return with hope and anticipation and expectation. If you ask me, that is something that goes against all that the Lord teaches us in scripture.
About a year ago, someone actually displayed that to me during a spiritual discussion we were having. When this person told me why he was “cautioning” me about thinking about Christ’s return a lot lately, he gave me the reason I mentioned above – that it might make us not live today the way that we should because we are thinking about “the end” so much instead. I feel that line of thinking is beyond dangerous.
That is NOT what it has done in my life, and it is NOT what Christ tells us it will do if we seek to understand it, draw closer to Him in the process of studying those parts of His word, and pray about it. In fact, the Lord has given me a greater peace about what those who are watchful for His return may or may not experience. Yes, we are in for some difficult times, but there is a great promise in that for us as well…many great promises that take away most of the fears that I had before.
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 3:10
Yes….I figure I’ve seen some things and experienced some things that confirm we are not to live just for this little world. And scripture tells us that one day, we all will see Him, we all will meet Him, and every single knee will bow.
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. Revelation 1:7
I’m embracing this beautiful hope and truth Jesus has promised now. I guess you could even say…I’m eager for it. I am looking for Him to come back for us ~ I hope it will be soon.