“Don’t knock something until you’ve tasted it,” my mother scolded me. To be honest--it wasn’t until after college that I saw, tried, or experienced much of life.
I am no longer afraid of heights, but you won’t catch me jumping out of an airplane any time soon. I love eating all my vegetables now especially asparagus, although I still choke down Brussels sprouts. And like my other life experiences, though I’ve grown in my faith and am excited for what God has for me, I forget how many times I begged and pleaded with God to delay His second coming.
Ready, Set, Return!
For years I hated being single. The thought of Jesus returning before I married horrified me. I desperately didn't want to enter heaven a virgin. And now that I am married, I am shocked to see how my list of one has grown into a list of many reasons why Jesus can’t come back yet.
At the risk of sounded like a Pharisee--I wasn’t the biggest fan of Revelation until I heard it preached by Pastor Ray Bentley. My husband and I searched for over a year until deciding to pick Maranatha Chapel in San Diego, CA as our home church. Pastor Ray was finishing the book of Revelation and we caught the last dozen or so sermons. At first, we were caught off guard. I had never heard the book of Revelation taught that way before. I expected hell, fire, and brimstone, but what I ended up receiving was grace, hope, and love. During those sermons I was forced to remember my prayers and pleas to God. Remembering them made me feel a little bit silly, naïve, and childish.
I guess my mom was right. I shouldn’t have knocked the book of Revelation until I gave it a chance. I assumed listening to a book on the end times and the second coming of Christ was for grownups or the elderly.
I. Was. Wrong.
What is it about our culture that crowds out Jesus and leaves no room for all things eternal? In my heart of hearts I had to come to terms with the question,
“Do I truly desire God and eagerly await His return?”
If I’m honest with you again--the answer is no.
I’m still searching, trying, and wanting to experience more of what life has to offer. For instance, my husband and I want to travel around the world. We want to stay in new places, make new friends, and try new things--especially Middle Eastern food. Maybe someday we’ll have a child or adopt one of our own.
There are also many other selfish reasons to shut the door of my heart to Jesus, but I’ll stop there.
“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” (Hebrews 11:32-24, 39, NIV84).
No More Excuses
I have to wonder, what is it for you? Did you grow up assuming Revelation was a book for grownups only? Maybe you’ve never read it all the way through to understand what heaven is like. If I were to ask you “are you ready for Jesus to return”--would you say no like me because your dreams haven’t come true yet? Because you’re too young? Because you haven’t experienced enough of what life has to offer?
I have a story for you. In the Bible, Jesus was asking those around to follow Him:
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Manhas no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.”But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:57-62, NIV84).
In this story, the people assumed their excuses were valid. Jesus clearly told them no. Isn’t it time for you and me to stop telling Him no, count the cost of following Jesus, and stop with the excuses? What if--instead of answering selfishly--we said,
“Because I haven’t won enough souls for Christ yet.”
Wait, what? That thought seized up my pen in church. The thought punched me in the gut and made my mind bleed.
I realized this whole time that I was living for me and not for Christ.
Maybe not every action was selfish, but I can count on one hand how many people I’ve led to Christ.
Jesus is right.
If we tell Him we’re going to follow Him and cheat in one small area, or compare our life to someone else--we’re guilty.
“But she’s married and I’m not--I’m not ready for Jesus to come back yet!”
“But she’s traveled the world and I’ve never left my home town!”
No matter what your excuse--it’s time to rise up and claim your age. Jesus didn’t say children are hindered from the Kingdom of Heaven. Quite the opposite! Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to children.
“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4, NIV84).
Jesus wants to use you to bless others. There are many people who have yet to hear the Good News of Christ--and it’s up to us to tell them.
“God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.” (2 Peter 2:9, MSG).
Renee Fisher aka the Devotional Diva® is a spirited speaker and the author of Faithbook of Jesus, Not Another Dating Book, and Forgiving Others Forgiving Me (Harvest House, 2013). Renee loves her engineering husband and their rescued pit bull Rock Star. She writes at http://www.devotionaldiva.com.