Monday, December 15, 2008

The end of the world

I was jetlagged, having flown spent some 20 hours in an airplane at that point. It was my first American flight in over three years. And I was very much looking forward to setting foot in the States after our finishing a 3 ½ year-stint in Indonesia.

But the American woman next to me, after having learned that we serve with a ministry overseas, asked me a question.

“Do you think the end is near?”

She did not mean the end of the flight, which I was very much hoping was near. She meant the end of the world.

It was October, the week the stock market had crashed, and Americans were panicking as they watched economic prosperity and all its “security” wash down the drain.

I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by the economic news. I had been looking forward to six months of rest, time with family, the convenience of America, and well, plenty of shopping. I had been living in a country that is in a depression—not merely a recession—with no safety nets for its poorest people. I wanted to forget about tough times, at least for a little while.

I think this woman thought that because we are serving God overseas that perhaps somehow we have a direct line to God about such things.

But I don’t. I don’t know when the end will come. And I don’t know exactly what will happen when it does come. I had no reassuring words for her, no words of prophecy. Nothing.

And if I did or ever do tell anyone that I know the date and time of the end, then I have no place to continue to serve in as ministry. Because no human does know.

But I’ve continued to ponder this whole thing. I have a son now, so I can’t help but think about the life he will have. Will this world be safe? Will he someday get to have a family of his own? I could easily begin to worry if I think about all that the book of Revelation predicts for the end times.

But then I remember the things God has been teaching me in those 3 ½ years serving in Indonesia. And they help me to keep my head a bit and remember the truth.
Here’s what I have learned:

· This world (in whatever state it is in—prosperity or hard times) is not my home.
· We will experience hard times, but God gives us strength and courage to deal with those hard times. He really does.
· Believers become a family during hard times, and you end up with some really special relationships that you may not have had during the easy times.
· God knows what He’s doing and isn’t surprised by anything.
· Much of what happens in this world is temporary—both the good and the bad. And that which lasts forever is worth doing.

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