“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Matt 24:36
When I was young I was fascinated with prophecy. I read Revelation and wondered what it would be like when Jesus came back. Imagining myself a great heroine fighting for the Lord, I would think about survival scenarios and battle tactics which might save my life and those of my friends and family. Living in a military town I was exposed to all sorts of survival courses and techniques, even taking it as a PE class in high school. Still today, I’m pretty sure if I had to make a run for it that I would survive at least a few weeks in the woods!
The book of Revelation has captured the minds of believers, and non-believers, for generations. Hollywood has even capitalized on the eternal struggle between God and the Devil. Even while many believers no longer believe the influence that either have on our everyday lives today, many are still drawn to these storylines. This irony is not lost on me.
Twenty years ago the “Left Behind” book series came out, hypnotizing a new generation with it’s scholarly look at what the book of Revelation might actually look like if it happened today. Written in a fictional format, and it renewed the buzz of the prophecy itself and what it meant to a modern generation. I myself leapt on the band wagon, veraciously reading one book after another, after another. Then, at some point I stopped.
I remember quite clearly the day I decided to not continue reading the series. An older woman at church was sharing with me her views of the books and how she was absolutely certain that the rapture would happen before the Tribulation (the rapture of all God’s people to heaven), and that it would happen exactly like it says in the “Left Behind” books. She could not fathom a god who would put his own people through the tribulation, and she was convinced that the authors knew exactly what was going to happen because they were credible scholars.
Walking away, quite bewildered, I wondered which god she was talking about. In Matthew 24:36 Jesus himself says He doesn’t even know when or exactly how all this is going to go down, yet a couple of modern day pastors and bible scholars do? Suddenly, none of it made any sense to me. If everything was so cut and dry, what is the point of having a relationship with God in the first place? I can declare my allegiance to God, get baptized, and live happily ever after until He raptures me before all the bad stuff happens!!
God isn’t going to save you from the battle before it starts!
If we already know it all, we no longer need God.
I began to see the dangers of prophecy and why prophecy is written the way that it is. My first reaction was to shelve all the books and leave them there, no longer adding to their numbers. God had prepared me all my life to be ready for anything. ready to fight. I never saw that the fight of my life would be internal, or that when it got hard I would drop him like a bad habit. Any enemy, any warrior, bring it on! I could handle it. Getting punched my depression and knocked out my bipolar disorder was never on my radar of potential enemies.
I thought I had it figured out, I thought I understood my enemy, I thought God would save me from any tribulation. This false lesson is being taught to so many christians today, no wonder we are having issues with mental health in the church. God isn’t going to save you from the battle before it starts, just because you are a good Christian! There were a lot of wasted years I spent believing this, and it has been a struggle to correct this.
I have learned that life is pretty tough, and it is designed that way. Because we live in a fallen world, full of sin, there will be many things that happen to us that are not the will of God. Yet, He is not going to automatically save us from these things just because we are Christians. He gave us free will. Free will we can choose to use to walk away from Him, or to run headlong into His arms.
Bad times produce good character
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5
In times of struggle I find my character strengths. In the midst of an episode of depression or hypo-mania I often feel that I can not endure it, and I am overcome with feelings to end it all, for myself and my family. Yet every time I have tried or have thought about it, God comes through and I immediately turn back to Him. Without fail, He is there, providing me strength and hope. Of course during these times I am unable to look beyond myself, but when I come through it I can look back and see how much stronger I have become.
There is so much humility and grace God offers me that I have learned He will provide for tomorrow. It is because of these proven moments in which God has changed my life that I know He will be there for me tomorrow. Knowing this to the core of my being, I no longer look to the books of Prophecy in the way I once did in my youth. This dear readers, is the most important take away from today.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Life is about cultivating your relationship with God. Trust in Him, minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and He will be there for you. He isn’t going to make all the bad things go away, but those bad things are there to strengthen you, they teach you valuable lessons about yourself and about God. I don’t know when the end times will come to pass, or when or is the rapture will happen, but I am not supposed to know. I also don’t know when, or if, my next episode of depression will happen, or my next hospitalization may take place, but I do know that God will be there for me through it all. Without uncertainty in life I wouldn’t rely on God the way that I do today, and that is the greatest gift God has given me.