If we learned anything from the Mayans, it’s that if you don’t finish something it’s not the end of the world.
Doomsday predictions are always wrong (so far) but they’re not always a waste of time. I can vividly recall one of those years when everybody was reading a book entitled 88 Reasons Why the Lord will Return in 1988. Newspapers actually counted down the days! I was serving in Tennessee at the time when a young mom named Eva showed up at our church after reading the book. Fearing the end, she became a follower of Jesus Christ. The highly publicized day of destiny came and went, but her faith was the real thing. In fact, she still worships there in Columbia, Tennessee, and we’re Facebook friends. I expect she still appreciates the irrelevant little book that prompted her 14 kt decision for Christ!
There’s a popular cliche that insists if you know you’d do things differently with the end of the world approaching, you should go ahead and make those changes now. I guess that sounds compelling at first glance, but then someone reminds you that actually happened in 1 Thessalonians. People gave up their jobs and sat around waiting for the return of Christ. That is, until Paul wrote and warned them to stop sitting around watching 1st Century cable TV and do something. “This we commanded you,” he reminded them, “That if any would not work, neither should he eat.” 1 Thessalonians 3:10.
But what if the end of the world were considered a certainty in only three weeks? Imagine that Asteroid Arnold is hurtling predictably toward a cosmic impact with Planet Earth, and the ETA is 21 days away. Would you quit your job and hurry off to the beach? Would you stop making your mortgage payment or car payment? If the drawing for the Mega Millions Lottery is 48 hours away and only two other people have bought tickets, will you spend $5 for a 1 in 3 chance at $200 Million to squander on your final 19 days of survival?
Why does an high paying job or a lottery pay off matter so much in the normal course of life, and yet matter so little with three weeks left on the earth’s Game Clock? Why should you justifiably rush back for the priceless diamond pendant you accidentally forgot while checking out of your hotel room if you’re on vacation, but not hurry back to retrieve it from your stateroom if you’re on the RMS Titanic?
It seems the standard by which we measure most things is Eternity and our proximity to that event horizon. If I am under the impression the doorway to God is decades away, money and the things it will buy seem to matter so much more. If I detect I may have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, I’ll be far more likely to chuck it all. But seriously,why “live like you’re dying” and try to cram as much earthly pleasure as possible in your final countdown? Will any pleasures here really compare to the celestial pleasures awaiting us in Heaven? Really?
Calculating the currency exchange rate of Eternity is easier when you strip away the illusions and walk through life with a biblical perspective. “All people are like grass and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field,”Isaiah reminded himself. “The grass withers and the flowers fall.” (Isaiah 40:6) Even compared to a Redwood Tree, you and I aren’t here for long! Isaiah adds that the Word of the Lord endures forever.
Years ago, serving among poverty stricken believers in Malindi, Kenya, I discovered why fashions and status symbols are often called “the trappings of life.” It’s because you can esteem them so highly that they trap you in a dangerous place and leave your soul at risk. That’s why few things clarify the mind as effectively as knowing The End is near.
Lift up the Cross!