It was 1970 or 1971, I don’t remember exactly. The man stood on a street corner in Elba, Alabama. My wife and I would see him every time we took the hour and a half trip to see her parents. Driving through Elba was the closest route. What was so special about this fellow and why was he always standing on the same street corner when we would pass by?
He was dressed plainly – old shirt and pants. His beard reached down to his chest. His hair was long – kind of “Hippy” like. (I just chuckled to myself – most of you have probably have never seen a Hippy – oh well, now you have a better idea as to how old I am.) Only one thing really made him stand out – his sign he was always holding. “The End Is Coming! Repent!” You would have expected to see this guy on a corner in San Francisco or Berkley, California – but little ol’ Elba, Alabama.
Did he mean the Apocalypse as foretold in the Bible? Probably.
Yet, today I think back to that time and I wonder if that was all he meant. I just heard of another cult recently forecasting the Second Coming of Christ. This always makes me wonder if people giving an exact date as to the return of our Savior ever actually read the scripture where Jesus said that, in effect, the time of His Return is unknown to even Him (Matthew 24:36). Jesus admitted that ONLY the Father knows! People that are searching, albeit in the wrong places, have lives usually that are not full of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, they would be about their Master’s business and not worried about when He is returning.
So what did this fellow’s sign mean? Was he referring to the Second Coming? Possibly. But was he also referring to “our” end is coming and are we ready to stand before Jesus for Judgement?
I bring this whole subject up today so we might focus on how fragile our time on earth really is. Yes, Jesus is going to Return at a time and date known only to the Father (Matthew 24:36). And yes, we want to be ready if that time arrives before we leave this earth to return home eternally. The chances are real that we will die from this life and enter eternal life before His “world-wide Return.” But who knows – certainly not me.
The headline of our local newspapers and TV news reports, all too frequently, lead with someone being killed or dying of “natural causes (I have always wondered how dying in any fashion is “natural.”) The news business, or journalism if you prefer, lives by an old adage, “If it bleeds, it leads!” Then you, if so inclined, look in the obituary column. According to the geographical size of the town, city or area you live in, often determines the number of souls names you’ll find there in the “local” obituary column.
So, back to my guy on the street corner in Elba, Alabama. I think he was speaking of both dimensions – the potential date of Christ’s Return and/or one’s own passing.
I used to think the “big deal” would be Christ’s Return while I am still living on earth! I’m getting older now and it has become increasingly obvious to me that an individual’s passing is probably the biggest deal going down in that person’s time here on earth. Not that Christ’s Return is anti-climactic, but the chances are that most of us will return home to heaven first (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15).
So really this guy’s message pertained to each one of us. Our repentance is a personal joining with our Lord, Jesus. He gave us the way home (I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43). Let us not lose our perspective as to how much time we really have left. Not meaning to sound morbid, but if each of us are waiting to repent just when the heaven’s open up and Jesus comes down to the earth for His Return, then we could be missing what He has tried to teach us over the centuries since He walked this earth. If our departure from this earth happens to be sudden or without the chance to make last minute spiritual adjustments – it may be a little late for that to occur.
I guess my point in all of this is that it doesn’t matter how we die or rise to meet our Savior in mid-air (1 Thessalonians 4:17), it matters that we are ready to “meet our Maker” at ALL times! So, maybe it is time for me to re-evaluate my position to my Lord. Maybe there are things I need to address NOW so as not to get caught with my “spirit down.” (Forgive my attempt at spiritual humor, it is still early in the morning right now.)
So, I do not know about you, but I think I will re-evaluate my position to my Lord and see if I am meeting His expectations of me. Just after writing that last sentence, this feeling came over me saying maybe I am farther “off base” than I realized. Please forgive me, dear friends in Christ, but I feel a serious prayer coming on. I wish you each a great and spiritually meaningful week and pray for each of you and your families. Stay well and God Bless you!!!
In Christ’s Love,