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Eyes to the sky

Truly believing Christ’s Second Coming

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I can’t say “I’ll be back” to my husband without him repeating, in a spectral imitation of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Ah’ll be bahck.” I hear it even when he’s not around. When, for instance, I think of Jesus promising to return, the pledge of the Terminator often comes to mind, and his promise seems about as real to me as Jesus’.

I’m ashamed to admit it. I know the Bible is true, that all came to pass as it’s recorded, that Jesus Christ walked this earth and changed history forever, and that the Holy Spirit continues to act in my life and others’. Prayers of gratitude come easily when times are good, and prayers of petition when they aren’t. But “Come, Lord Jesus” feels as remote a possibility as mountains melting and stars falling from the sky—because those events are on the schedule too.

It’s been so long, and times are so frightening—what is he waiting for?

He’s wrapped up the past, but does He really hold the future? Of course, and yet. It’s been so long, and so much has happened. With multiplying crises and confusion, the fall of hopes and the rise of chaos, it seems that now would be a good time to return.

The earth seems as restless as its inhabitants. Here’s a headline from early in November: “Unnerving Study Reveals There May Be No Warning for the Next Supervolcano Eruption.” Toba Peak in Indonesia is one of the dozen or so volcanoes capable of an eruption that could shroud the earth in 10 years of winter. Research into its prehistoric activity indicates that magma buildup can occur slowly beneath the surface and break out with no warning. Not that it will happen anytime soon, but researchers are keeping an eye on the steady growth of an island in Toba’s caldera.

And what about the asteroids continually bombarding us from space? In 1910, some scientists popularized the notion that the return of Halley’s Comet that year would fry us all. Apophis, nicknamed the Doomsday Asteroid, bypassed Earth with room to spare last March, but close enough for amateur astronomers to track. Scary predictions of the rock’s return (I’ll be back) have gone the rounds, but by the best estimates it won’t hit us. Not this century, anyway.

Still, blazing headlines about Yellowstone blowing up or the New Madrid Fault Line buckling the Mississippi cause a momentary twinge. And how’s a layman to know whether the climate-change alarmists are entirely wrong? “Some say the world will end in fire, / Some say in ice,” mused Robert Frost, but almost everyone says it will end. While we don’t know how or when, the Word of God is clear about whether. Fervent heat will consume this planet, wrote Peter. “God has appointed a day,” preached Paul. It’s all pointing to one event: He’s coming back, and this time no one will miss it, or escape it.

Just as there was a precise moment in time when a human/divine zygote attached itself to the womb of a virgin, there will be a precise moment when the divine/human Lord declares history over and rolls up the universe. The first event is easier to imagine—if not explain—than the second, but if there was a beginning, there must be an end. Thousands of years into the future or day after tomorrow?

The earliest followers of Jesus favored the day-after-­tomorrow scenario, for scoffers were already saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:4). Jesus himself claimed ignorance while He was on earth, so of course Peter couldn’t say. Nor could he have imagined us, 2000 years into the future. But God could.

That’s the only satisfactory answer. We’re impatient and fearful and doubtful that it will ever happen. It’s been so long, and times are so frightening—what is He waiting for?

He’s waiting for you. He’s waiting for me. Perhaps He’s cast His favorable eye on great-grandchildren yet unborn to complete His kingdom. If He’s willing to wait, so can we. But with hope and expectation.

Janie B. Cheaney Janie is a senior writer who contributes commentary to WORLD and oversees WORLD's annual Children's Book of the Year awards. She also writes novels for young adults and authored the Wordsmith creative writing curriculum. Janie resides in rural Missouri.


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One of the Lord Jesus' most fascinating conversations is the one in Mark 13 where He shares the signs of His return with the disciples. This strikes me because the signs He gives are actually both vague and common. Wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and famines are all normal events, two man-made and two natural. Furthermore, they are not particularly more or less common today than at that time.

As Janey writes, "With multiplying crises and confusion, the fall of hopes and the rise of chaos, it seems that now would be a good time to return." But even then, I cannot help but think this perspective is present-focused. If I look back to the 1930's, I see a time I absolutely would NOT want to live, given the angst from above: Actual wars, definitely rumors of wars, famine, and earthquakes. Around the world there are on average 112 earthquakes 5.0 and above and that number is fairly constant. But in relative terms, anyone alive in 1930-1935 might look at our times today, scratch their heads and wonder what we're worried about.

I think it is human nature to see all of the bleak of our time and compare it only with the positive memories of a past time, even a past time long before we were born. But if we could sit in a conversation with just about any Christian at any time in the past 2000 years, they might say they feel about their time as clear evidence of the fulfillment of the Lord's statement about His return.

What is my takeaway, then? It is the reminder that God calls me to live in the present. In Jeremiah 29 we have a culture sent into exile by a conquering army (don't have *that* today, for which I am thankful!). And what is God's word to them? "Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. "

Like Janey, we need to believe the Lord's statement is absolutely true. Thankfully we do not know when He will return as that might make us useless. In the meantime, we are to live godly lives as usual, and most importantly, *pray to the LORD on [our country's] behalf, for in its welfare we will find our welfare.*