Friday, December 12, 2008

if the Lord tarries

Mom knows a preacher who says that phrase, "If the Lord tarries," when he makes announcements and such.  You know, the meeting is tonight . . . if the Lord tarries.  

It has been a long time, don't you think?  Two thousand years ago - give or take - I know his disciples never would have guessed it would be this long.  It leaves a lot of room for doubt.  I like what Den said in the comments Wednesday, that Jesus left his legacy to people who had consistently failed him.  And sometimes that feels even more true than others.  Here we are, so many years later, trying to figure out just what he meant by coming at all - just what he was trying to say and to show us.  

"If the Lord tarries," seems to come from someone who really wishes that he wouldn't.  I heard a preacher speak on that once, that we should wish for Jesus' return more than we wished for anything.  I went to lunch that Sunday distraught.  I knew I didn't wish for that.  I wished for marriage and children and meeting new people and discovering new things.  I didn't want him to come and interrupt all that cool stuff life had to offer.  That's the famous day in our family history when I opened my fortune cookie after lunch, and it was blank.  (Was it blank, Mom, or completely empty?  I can never remember.)  Either way, it was eerie.  

Now I'm on the other side of some of the coolness and find that life has hardship too that would be nice to escape.  After 9/11 when my cousin was in a church in Pakistan that was bombed, I was thinking, "This might be a good time, Lord."  It seemed the world was falling apart.  But then, yet again, it didn't.  It didn't actually fall apart, and he didn't feel the need to swoop in and rescue us.  We keep stumbling about trying to figure out life and love (smile) and faith, and then we die and another generation is born to - it sometimes seems - start the learning process all over again.

It's bright and sunny here today, especially reflecting off the little patches of snow.  And something like the return of Jesus on clouds of glory always seems more possible on days like this.  But I find that despite everything in life - or actually, because of it - I still don't mind that he tarries (as perhaps a proper Christian should).  I really like the learning process of life.  It's so stressful in seasons but so rewarding when you come through them with something new discovered.

There were several good comments yesterday and Wednesday.  As Tracy H. pointed out (you can find her on the blog roll at Strengthened by Words), there is a lot of mystery and balance to our faith.  We struggle to find it between grace and works, love and justice, humility and understanding.  I'm not even sure there is perfect balance between them, or if perhaps we make up the balance by our differences.  Which is both trying - and oddly freeing, if you let it be.

This is one of my favorite movie quotes.  I'm convinced there's truth in it.

"If there's any kind of God, it wouldn't be in any of us, not you or me, but just this little space in between.  If there's any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something.  I know it's almost impossible to succeed.  But who cares really?  The answer must be in the attempt." 


Felicity said...

I remember the fortune cookie being totally empty, not even the slip of paper was there. And that was hilarious.

Matt Bowman said...

Beautiful post. Mystery and balance. The answer in the attempt. Oh yeah.

Kathy said...

Yep. The cookie was empty. You broke it open just as you were saying, "I just think there are so many things I'm still supposed to do on earth..."

And the sixth grade you would have been delirious with joy if she could have anticipated these two ornaments on the same tree! (and it would have saved us a decade of drama)

Paul Nickerson said...

Did you see Nick Mangine's comment regarding your comment about ecumenicity? I have copied it below in case you wanted to see it.

"I think I can see the point your previous pastor was making. If we want Christians to be united, it's going to have to happen on a personal level, then hopefully, the organizations will follow."

Kelly Hoeckelberg-Young said...

Wow ... the fortune cookie was empty ... on that particular day. Beautiful post. And, I LOVE all the ornaments! :-) The ones you've kept from 6th grade ... so sweet.

Anonymous said...

Seren I HATE being "behind" on the reading of your blog, sigh. But I had to comment to your mom actually, I lol'd on the drama comment. I think I'm seeing where some of your sense of humor came from.....(hi Kathy!)

And the fortune not being there of course also cracked me up because I was wondering what sort of dramatic moment that might have caused.

At any rate, once again, I say this may be my favorite post. But I say that every time I read one because they keep going and getting better and inspiring me.

Widney Woman said...

Seren, I'm going to have to catch up on your posts but I liked this one. It is something I've wrestled with. More recently, I've been thinking about the whole thing about the end of the world.

It's Obama. So many Christians make him out as the anti-Christ. Which, recall Gorbachev and his birthmarked forehead - he died without being the anti-Christ. And Ronald Reagan was the anti-Christ because his names each have 6 numbers - 666.

My thing about Christians freaking out over whomever is the "next" anti-Christ is - aren't we supposed to want to go to Heaven? Isn't that our goal? Shouldn't we be jumping up and down at the prospect of making it to the big prize in the sky?

But really, we don't want to leave the earth just yet. We want to continue living and experiencing and doing our part to increase the numbers when we finally do get to Heaven. Even when we don't want the Lord to tarry because we don't want to right that final, or are so mortified we want the rapture to come that second. Silly humans.

Paul Thomas said...

Regarding your empty fortune cookie, the Lord is trying to get your attention about something. God is not a far away God. He is actually right next to you all of your life. From your first cry to your final breath, Jesus is there. There is one act that you must do in order to return to your real home (no this super temporary experience on Earth is not your real eternal life), and that is accept Jesus into your heart, ask him for forgiveness of your sins and believe with all of your heart and declare with your mouth that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and that God has risen Him from the dead. When you do this with all of your heart and declare Jesus as Lord of your life, the Holy Spirit will indwell in your very soul. This is what Jesus was referring to when He said you must become born again in order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. He was talking about being born in the spirit and attaining the Holy Spirit. He was not joking. All who fail to do this and take their last breath do not make it. Its sounds harsh, but you are not fighting against flesh and blood, but you are fighting a spiritual battle. And there IS an enemy, and he wants you just as much as Jesus wants you. God will continue to try to get your attention regarding this, using people like me, friends, family, and will move mountains until you give your life over to Him and begin to live for Him rather than yourself (this is your walk with Jesus). Jesus was not kidding when he said the wide path (majority of people) leads to damnation and the narrow path that is found by very few leads to eternal life.

1 John 2:15-16
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but from the world.

Who was the one in the world that tempted Jesus to become Cesar? The world or Jesus, that is the choice that every soul must make. The consequences for both are eternal. I pray that you find Jesus and become born again, and begin your walk away from the temporary wiles of the world and toward the loving arms of Jesus. For Jesus said I will never forsake you or leave you. He is right next to you right now, waiting......

SafeInJesus said...

I remember people saying "if the Lord tarries". As a child it was a comforting expression. It reminded of Jesus' promise to return at the Father's appointed time and signified the constant renewal of hope and expectation. It also reminded that God was "not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness, but long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance". (2 Peter 3:9)

Watching the world and people grow worse and worse, I used to be impatient. But, of late, I have learned to appreciate and value God's patience with mankind. He waited for me to come to Him through His Son, so how can I begrudge His patience to others who will come to Him now or in the future, though the times grow ever more perilous? But, when time is up, time will be up. Meanwhile, we do as Jesus commanded, "occupy till I come". God is not constrained by time, His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts, but He can totally be trusted...with everything. So, let Him tarry as He will.