Thursday, September 14, 2006
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
I grew up in the Assemblies of God church during the 1970s. I don’t know if it was the time; the church or my own way of thinking but I felt like I was on twenty-four hour rapture watch.
For those of you who don’t know what “the rapture” is; it’s the expected removal of Christ-followers from the earth which precedes the Second Coming of Christ with seven years of Tribulation in there somewhere depending on your particular view of the chronology.
The trumpet will sound, the dead in Christ will rise and then those who remain will be caught up.
The word rapture never appears in the Bible, it’s a term applied to the “catching up” of the saints.
Sometimes the rapture was a scary idea. Most of the time it was a scary idea. I never felt that I’d be deemed worthy to be caught up to heaven. I always feared that trumpet would sound and I’d look around to find all the Christians gone and me left behind to wait out the Tribulation and avoid the Mark of the Beast. Seriously frightening images then and now.
As I grew up I grew away from Rapture watch. I continue to be aware that there’s nothing left to fulfill prophetically and the news reports every day prove that this is the end of time. I just don’t know how long the end of time will take.
I didn’t want to live my life in anxiety of being unworthy of the rapture of the church so I asked God to do a few things. Number one, show me how to live worthy. Number two, focus my mind on productive living in Him instead of constantly listening for a trumpet from somewhere in the east.
So rapture worries faded away and today I live ready to be raptured, meet Jesus by natural means or live to be elderly. I now know that if Christ calls his bride away during my lifetime, you can call me gone.
But I don’t think about the rapture all that often. Not even daily. Usually just when there’s a news story that catches my attention and makes me wonder, how much longer God?
Then I was driving to work, driving east into the sunrise and there was this brilliance at the horizon as the sun claimed the sky and before I could even process my thoughts the Holy Spirit broke into my heart with an announcement...
“I’m still coming you know.”
I was reminded with that clarity you can only get at a spiritual level that one day that eastern sky will split open and Jesus will step back into our atmosphere for one final time. One day that brilliant light won’t be just another sunrise.
And so, we who serve him will be with the Lord forever.
I’m so glad the days worrying about being left behind are finally left behind.
I’m ready to go.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.