Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The dawn after the long dark night

Saturday afternoon, I read in Time Magazine that in a few weeks we will be ending the worst decade ever in American history. The decade that started with all the Y2K fears, included the tragedy of 9/11, the great Tsunami, destructive earthquakes in many locales around the world, and Katrina, is now ending with the great financial meltdown. Locally, we could add the tornadoes that wiped out Boy Scout troops, towns from our maps, and farmhouses from their land, and we could add floods which struck many of our friends and neighbors, and even some closer to home. When we think about it, there is a case to be made that this really has been a horrible time in our lives.

Where is God in this mess? How can a loving God allow such things to occur on His watch? Where was He when we needed Him? He could have stopped all these things, couldn’t He? -- such are the questions we may have asked of ourselves and been asked by others. What are we to make of all these events around us?

While the rest of the world is sharpening elbows and seeking those “can’t miss deals,” you and I are called to remember what these events portend. “Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” You and I are, among other things, called to be watchmen. We are called by Jesus Himself to be alert, to be awake, to be wary in the dark. Dawn is coming, and it will spring upon us quickly like a trap. And these signs that we see, they simply remind us that His return is that much closer. And so, while the rest of the world deals with projections of gloom and doom, you and I are called to go forth into the darkness as His hands, as His arms, as His feet, as His regents, and full of His light in our lives.

While the rest of the world laments the scope of the problems, you and I and all our brothers and sisters in Christ are called to address the need and share Christ’s love with all those whom we serve. We are there both to remind them that the day of His return is drawing nearer and that He would like nothing better than for them to accept His invitation to that wonderful wedding feast. And so, in the midst of disasters, we hold up our heads, we look to the cross of Christ, and we serve.

The results? Christians risk martyrdom in Bandi Aceh and serve their Muslim neighbors, and see the fatwah calling for their deaths ended. Christians go to communities and begin the long process of mucking, tearing down, and rebuilding in communities in LA, MI, or even IA. Christians reach deep and support food pantries, homeless shelters, and all kinds of other ministries, even when they themselves lack job security or infinite resources. Why? Because one of the messages we are called to share with the world is that He is able to overcome all these things, and even our own deaths, to bring glory to Himself! When the world cannot foresee any hope or possibility, that’s when His grace is most evidenced in the world and when we are reminded that our redemption is near. The worst decade ever? I don't know about that. A decade closer to His return? Absolutely!


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