Sunday, December 28, 2014

Here's to 2015 and beyond!

When 1999 came to an end, a whole lot of people were hedging their bets. They had been stocking up on whatever they thought was necessary in order to survive the year 2000--at least for the first few months. The great anticipated disaster was labelled Y2K when all computers (and everything run by computers) would crash. Like most other companies, the one I worked for spent huge amounts of money getting all the upgrades on all their computer programs to prevent this anticipated collapse. I asked one of these upgrade programmers if all this was really necessary. He didn't know. He said he didn't know if anyone knew. But he did know that business for his company had never been better.

A few years before was "88 Reasons why the Lord will come in 1988." This book had lots of believers. I tried to avoid them. 

When I was a kid, during the height of the Cold War, most people in America, and perhaps the world, saw a nuclear world war, and thus total global destruction, as inevitable. During this time, at the church and at the Bible camps I attended, the Rapture/Tribulation was brought up in most messages and in most prayers. "Do you believe," the preacher would say. "Do you really believe that the Lord could come this very night? Even before the end of this service? Do you believe the Lord could come this very moment?" I would nod my head while shaking in my boots. Like the Little Engine that could, I would say over and over in my mind, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."

From my earliest memory, the Rapture was always just around the corner. Like the other Great Disasters, it was just around the corner. 

Nuclear devastation was scary. As all of us kids knew, it was one button push away from reality. At school we had regular fire and tornado drills, and nuclear attack drills. For fire drills, we would line up in an orderly fashion and walk outside. For tornado drills we would again line up in an orderly fashion and walk down to the basement of our school where all the pipes were. But for a nuclear drill, each child was instructed to dive as fast as he could underneath his desk. As absurd as the under the desk procedure was, I don't remember that any of us ever made jokes about it.

For me as a kid, as scary and as real as was the immanency of nuclear attack, it was no where near as scary as the Rapture. Of course for the Believer, the Rapture was the great Wonderful Event. But how could one know that one was far enough on the right side of belief so one would be be caught up in the air and not left behind?

But here we still are. And here we still are expecting something really bad to happen really soon. For the secular world, global warming has replaced the terror of nuclear war. For Evangelicals, it's the Agenda of the Left, personified by Barack Obama.

I still tend to be a fearful person. I think my fearfulness is an appropriate response to the reality here on this earth. The specifics of my/our fear may not be real. But how can something really bad not happen? What defines life on this earth is precariousness, mortality. The moment each of us are born, we are on the high wire. And each person is a snap shot of all of humanity. All the ways a person can be incapacitated and destroyed are no less than all the ways that human life on this earth can be incapacitated and destroyed.

But as fear makes itself known to me in my consciousness, I think to myself, "Can I really believe all this stuff that I say I believe about God? Do I believe that God has manifested His love for us "in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us?" And I find I do believe it--or better, I do believe in Him, the Savior from the Great Disaster, the Savior who
 proved Himself by becoming one of us and who went through the Great Disaster, resurrected and exulted and glorified and preparing a place for us. I believe it. I believe happily ever after makes sense. I know how very much I want good for my wife, my children, my grandchildren. Certainly God wants good for us, the ones whom He created, as we are willing to accept good from His hands--as I am willing to let go of my fear, and to forego my hiding under my desk to keep safe from the immanent Great Disaster.

So here's to 2015, and beyond. Here's to a good year!

This picture includes three of our shepherd grand kids singing about the angels' proclamation of goodwill and peace to men.