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The Promise of His Coming: "How Long O Lord?" - By Tovi Groeneweg -
My heart echoes this yearning call of the psalmist, as I know many do. While we wait for His long expected coming; it is hard not to become discouraged, especially when we see the world around us falling further and further into disorder and degradation. But God does not allow this waiting without the best of reasons for His creation.
I usually have great peace about the timing of the Rapture, now. It has not always been so, and at times of stress I can still be overwhelmed. Like Peter, I see the storm of life around me and lose my focus on Jesus (Matthew 14:22-23). But the Lord has taught me how to find that peace again. Several things have helped.
First, this verse in 2 Peter 2:7-9, has meant much and has reassured me:
"And if He rescued Lot, a righteous man who was greatly distressed by the immoral conduct of lawless people - for as long as that righteous man lived among them, day after day he was being tortured in his righteous soul by what he saw and heard in their lawless actions - then the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials and to hold unrighteous people for punishment on the day of judgment."
Even though it is distressing to realize that our world has to get worse and worse, (and even harder to watch), the verse shows that God is equipping us for it. He told us what to expect and promises that He will not be late, as Habakkuk 2:3 reinforces:
"For the revelation pertains to an appointed time - it speaks truthfully about the end. Though it delays, wait for it, because it will surely come about - it will not be late!"
Second, a wonderful illustration in C.S. Lewis' book, The Silver Chair also reassures me by building understanding of my human nature. When the children and their guide in the story are struggling through treacherous terrain in response to Aslan's directions to rescue Prince Rilian, although hungry and suffering from exposure, they are at first single minded and committed to the task in spite of the horrendous conditions.
But once they learn of a warm and inviting castle ahead, they become more focused on their misery and grow grumpy and impatient. They can think of nothing but the comforts denied them and forget their former support of each other and commitment to the task. I have found the hope of heaven can sometimes make me impatient to be there and I forget to care and pray for others in my misery. Again, like Peter turning to look at the storm.
Many years ago God taught me through a friend that what He wants most from us is to trust Him. Fifteen years ago He put that lesson to the test and took from me along waited for gift that meant the most to me of all His gifts. Then followed trial after trial and for someone who, in spite of many mistakes and missteps, had taken God's call on my life seriously, these lessons were confusing and disturbing. But I LEARNED so much!
Mostly I learned how to trust. I learned it is a discipline that needs to be practiced every day, as well as being fed through prayer and the Word, so that it becomes habitual. 2 Corinthians 10:5 explains it this way, "...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
Trusting is essential for peace and it includes the sacrificial attitude; "Lord, thy will be done." Jan Karon, author of a fictional series steeped in biblical references, writes of this as "The prayer that never fails." And even though it can be very difficult to pray, I've found when it is prayed, the Lord will work in us to give us peace.
I also learned to focus on right now, not tomorrow, not next week or next year, but right now. "Am I all right now? Am I safe now?" In spite of great emotional pain, the answer was always yes. It is when I think about what is coming that I get into trouble. The Lord promises our needs will be met and I cannot deny that. I have experienced His hand at work too many times to count.
Even though the Rapture is speeding closer and closer, God is longing to help us through the trouble, heartbreak and discouragement of our times right now. I was often longing for it as a solution to the sadness in my heart, but as many of us have learned, hanging onto His gifts, even the promise of His gifts, including the Rapture, is not the same as hanging onto Him, and can cause disappointment and despair.
Proverbs 3:5-6 puts it this way:
" Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not depend on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
And finally, knowing that our jobs here, like those of the children in The Silver Chair, are salvation, what I am learning now while I wait is that we don't all get to do the same thing in that regard. A few of us are given the harvesting jobs of the professional evangelist or pastor, more are given a mix of jobs that may change overtime and need.
These essential jobs usually appear far less glamorous with results that are harder to see. We are asked to prepare the fields of the hearts around us, figuratively plowing, picking out stones, providing nourishment. We are asked to sow the seeds of the awareness of God's love and the need for His forgiveness and to tend to the needs of the burgeoning seeds, watering them drop by drop, day after day, by prayer and examples of righteous and sacrificial living.
To prepare the hearts and souls around us over the years by sincere love and sometimes unrequited friendship, waiting on the Holy Spirit's leading for opportunities and the words to bring God into our conversations in this time, like Lot's, can seem tedious at times and when results are not seen, unsatisfying. But this is the job we are called to.
These most precious children of God-to-be, that because of our fallen state, we are unable to value as Christ does, are the sacrifices of remaining here and the fruit of our labors with which Christ will reward us. All the little bits of our combined effort will result in the greatest of joys as Christ says to us, "See, John is here because your love inspired him. Jane is here because your drenching prayers helped her see Me. Meet James and Joan, here because you prayed for strangers on the bus and in the store."
Just as the "joy" was before Christ (Hebrews 12:2), so will it then be for us. It is marvelous and full of wonder, and while I, too, long for that day with all my heart, I know that God's purpose for me here is of the highest importance, in spite of my insignificance to the world-or I would not be here.