[Note: Our guest writer, Janie B. Cheaney, is a gifted Christian author from Dallas who now lives in rural Missouri. She is also a senior writer for “World” magazine. Wonderful samples of her writing can be found at janiebcheaney.com.]
I can’t say “I’ll be back” to my husband without him repeating, in a spectral Arnold-Schwarzenegger imitation, “Ah’ll be bahck.” Even when he doesn’t say it, I hear the echo. In fact, when I think of Jesus promising to return, the pledge of the Terminator often comes to mind, and His pledge seems just about as real to me.
It’s a shameful thing to admit. I know the Bible is true, that Jesus Christ walked this earth and changed history forever, and that the Holy Spirit continues to act in my life, and other lives. But “Come, Lord Jesus” feels as remote a possibility as mountains melting and stars falling from the sky.
Jesus has wrapped up the past, but does He really hold the future? Of course, but still. It’s been so long. With multiplying crises and confusion, the fall of hopes and the rise of chaos, it seems that now would be an excellent time for Him to return.
The earth seems equally anxious. Take for example this headline from early last 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 volcanos capable of an eruption that could spell doom for us all. Research indicates that magma buildup can occur slowly beneath the surface and break out with no warning. Several paragraphs down the scientists acknowledge that it’s not likely to happen soon, but they’re keeping an eye on the steady growth of an island in Toba’s caldera.
Blazing headlines about Yellowstone blowing up or the New Madrid Fault tangling the Mississippi cause a momentary twinge of fear. “Some say the world will end in ice, and some in fire,” mused Robert Frost, but almost everyone says it will end. Fervent heat will consume this planet, wrote Peter. “God has appointed a day,” preached Paul (Acts 17:31). It’s all pointing to one event: He’s coming back, and this time no one will miss it. Nor will anyone 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 like a carpet. If there was a beginning, there must be an end — perhaps thousands of years into the future, or maybe sometime this spring?
The earliest followers of Jesus seemed as restless as we are, for scoffers were already saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:4). Neither Peter nor Paul could give a definite answer. Nor could they have imagined those of us, 2000 years into the future, who are still waiting. But God could.
Speaking for myself, I’m impatient and anxious and doubtful that it will ever happen. How about you? It’s been so long, and times are so frightening — impatiently we ask, 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 bring into His Kingdom. If He’s willing to wait for the next hour or the next millennium, so can we. But with hope and expectation.