Before Hurricane Irene struck the East Coast, my Facebook wall was filled with comments like "Come, Lord Jesus, Come." And verses quoting how there will be earthquakes in the last days. Pointed comments meant to impress upon the social media world that this is all part of it. The End. The final countdown. The pre-rapture...
Instantly, I'm transported back to our little country church with its hard wooden pews and nasal-voiced worship leader. I'm a kid again hearing the preacher warn about the end being near.
And the same fear that filled me then fills me now. My heart kicks up a notch and I struggle for a good deep breath...because the end is so final. It's...the end.
And I wonder if I should be feeling this fearful.
I've been a Christian since I was five. It isn't breaking news to me what the Bible says about the End Times. Heck, I even read most of the Left Behind series, and let me tell ya, that did nothing to stave off my fear.
And as that fear rumbles in the pit of my stomach, guilt seeps in and that nasty idea that I'm not a good Christian if I don't long for heaven and home...but I don't. Not yet. Not right now. I'm not overly anxious to discover heaven because I'm still so captivated by what's here on earth. I mean, God's creativity is all around us...and I still have so much to learn...
If I truly longed for heaven, wouldn't that mean I wasn't content with the life I have now? Wouldn't that make me thankless and not "living for today"? Wouldn't that mean I'm not occuypying until he comes?
But the comments continue...people pointing out the irony of the earthquakes in states that normally don't have earthquakes and now a hurricane all the way up in the Northeast and my eyes are glued to the TV as I wait to see the twinkling of an eye, and I'm filled with fear again that Jesus will forget me.
And then I'm ten, sitting in the den of our gray house on Peoria Avenue. Outside, I see something in the sky and it's gone in a flash. Of course it could've been a shooting star or a UFO, but I jump to the conclusion that Jesus just came back for his people and he forgot me. The fear intesifies when, for a few too-long moments I can't find my parents. They've gone. They've all left me.
Ever since I was young, people have been saying these are the last days. And I turn away, unwilling to entertain the idea because the truth is, I don't know what heaven will be like. Will I have my family there? Will we do any of the things we love to do now? Will God have a huge art room waiting for us? Will I even make it through the gates? It's hard now, to admit that this core part of my faith causes me angst, but it has and it does. And my guilt over my lack of faith multiplies my unworthiness.
How do you feel when you hear people talk about the end times? Excited? Worried? Anxious? Elated? Or maybe you're completely indifferent?...I'd love to hear.