While most Grandmas were telling their grandkids where the hidden sweets were stored, my Bible-teaching, pastor Grandma was telling me about how I would see the second coming of Jesus in my lifetime. (And the pie was always in the cupboard.) As a teenager, everything felt far away, so the idea of anything happening in my lifetime was elusive and intangible, especially the second coming of the Son of God. All I remember was just asking God to not send Jesus back until I was married. Maybe you can relate.
Fast forward thirty years, and the idea isn't so elusive. Pastor Jimmy Evans recently completed a series at Gateway Church called "Tipping Point" about the signs of end times. In the series, Pastor Evans outlines the tipping points we have reached according to Scripture in the areas of time, technology, morality, truth and Israel (you can find those messages here). As I listened to the messages, Grandma's voice pushed through the decades, making the intangible piercingly tangible.
Telling ourselves no one knows the time or the day now seems more a passing of responsibility than an act of humility. Consider 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 (emphasis mine):
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
God tells us beforehand of His plans (Amos 3:7). He has given us His times and seasons in His Word, so should we really be surprised at the coming of Jesus? I mean, YES, when I find myself suddenly caught up IN THE SKY WITH JESUS I will absolutely be surprised, obviously, but in the greater scheme of things, obviously not.
I'm not a Bible scholar and I certainly leave the timing and procedural debates to the theologians. I am, however, a servant of Christ, and if He is coming back IN MY LIFETIME, I have some reactions to that. What once was a nice thought for some faraway, future generation is now an imminent possibility for me, and you, and everyone we know and love. What was once a battle-weary plea for Jesus to come back is now a battle cry for warriors to arise. What once was a net of resignation is now a tight-rope of intense adventure. Now is the time for our destinies to manifest. Someday just became today.
If we knew, and really believed, Jesus was coming, whether in three months or 25 years, how does that change what we are doing today? Here are a few of my personal thoughts.
- There is a play-ready posture in basketball called the triple threat position. It's the stance your body is to take when you are facing the basket to prepare yourself to either quickly pass the ball, drive the ball, or shoot the ball. It would never work with your back to the goal because the intention is to score. This question keeps ricocheting through me, "Are you facing the goal?" The goal for every generation is the return of Christ. Am I facing its reality? Am I positioned to boldly move towards it? Do I understand there is a clock and the seconds are ticking away? Now is the time to live with the reality of Christ's return. To understand that the by-and-by is the here-and-now. Face the goal. Take my position. And move to score.
- It's time to let go of the myriad of ridiculous things I certainly do not wish to be holding when Christ does return. What a waste of time all my grudges will be in that moment. How insignificant will the petty arsenal of containments the enemy has strategically placed in my carrying case appear when I'm face-to-face with Jesus and the saints! In light of that moment, I know there are things to lay down once and for all. There are hurts to stop nursing, disappointments to move beyond, and entangling sins to slice away. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24) As a New Covenant believer, this means I invite the Lord to show me where I am not believing Him above the fears and anxieties of this world. I don't want to be found holding a bag full of unbelief in the form of unrealized potential and purpose. What would you drop like a hot potato today if you knew Jesus was coming tomorrow?
Do you know all those things you have felt and believed the Lord was calling you to do but for whatever reason you just haven't? Go do them. (Please know this encouragement is for the Godly calls to establish HIS kingdom, not the permission you may be seeking to go live your life in rebellion to the plan of God.) There are dreams and visions I have heard and seen in distant frequencies and screens that are beginning to tune in more loudly and focus more clearly. They involve personal risk for me, but infinite gain for the Kingdom. It's time to understand there won't always be time.
Most importantly, where people are headed for eternity is much more real to me. There are people in my life who don't know Jesus and there are people who say they know Jesus, but by all accounts must not believe He is enough because their life is the world's narrative. Matthew 24:40-41, when speaking of the rapture, says, "Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left." In other words, who living alongside me has potential to be left behind? Acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God is not salvation. Millions believe but have never surrendered. That gets to me. I have a part to play in that. How can I be a more loving example of the boundless grace and joy found in serving him (Instead of a grouchy drill sergeant bent on proving a point)? I have relational repairs to make. I have relational equity to invest in. It's going to require time, and humility, and supernatural power. All of which God supplies.
Finally, I'm so excited to be living in this time. How tremendous the opportunity to be a part of a generation of believers who may never die. How thrilling the adventure to be a part of the unfolding revival of love like the world has never seen. I want to be prepared to take my place in the army of God in this time and season of all the generations to see the greatest harvest of believers in all of history. I desire to be filled with the grace and truth of the cross to boldly proclaim the salvation that comes only through Jesus. No matter the cost. In what many would say are the most perilous days for Christians, we have the opportunity to embrace the courage God gives to be appointed for such a time as this.
What about you? How will your prepare? What are the internal and external actions God is calling your attention to in light of His calendar of time? Get ready, get ready, get ready! Jesus IS coming!