The bones of Jesus and his wife and children have been found. There is the rattling of swords in Palestine. Islam’s Messiah may rise to power sometime this spring. Iran is only a year away from mass-producing nuclear warheads. Studies show our children are more narcissistic and bratty than ever (who knew?). Al Gore is putting Oscars on his mantel. Oh, and Michael Jackson wants to convert to Islam.
These are just today’s headlines!
To live in this modern world is akin to a haunted house ride at Disney World. There are moments of spookiness and fear. Weird organ music, shadows and gloom. At times something will jump out at you and even the ‘jockiest’ among us will experience racing of heart and catching of breath. And, of course, there will be displays that are downright laughable and corny. No matter what happens inside that house of terror, everyone in that swinging, twisting, turning car knows it will end in a flash of light and return to normalcy.
For the apprentice of Jesus (aka, disciple), we know this: there is Someone whose Hand is on the controls and He is watching out for us. We know also that the gloominess and uneasiness will give way to a curtain’s parting and with it, the infusion of Light and Glory. The Son, whom modern intellectuals claim is still in the ground, will flash onto the scene, very much alive, accompanied by His invading army of angels, and we along with Him, and bring to this world its Day of Reckoning.
Paul’s words, “none of these things move me,” are the mantra of the True Church. This stubborn little apostle walked heads-up straight into another Hall of Horror, facing off with incarnate terrors and otherworldly sorceries, and he did it with the resolute conviction that his journey was necessary for the protuberance of the Kingdom. He was not shaken, nor should we be, by what lies ahead. It is Who is walking with us and Who is waiting for us that should be our confidence. The One whose Hand is on all the levers is the One we walk with and journey toward. He’s moving us forward, on pre-laid tracks, as it were, ever nearer to our ultimate destiny: consummated union with the Lover of our Soul.
Hey, I just switched rides. We’ve jumped the tracks and now Murder Manor has become Lover’s Lane.
Ah, but not so fast. There is something that should move us, however. Imagine being locked into a car born by tracks through a gloomy castle of abject fright, uncertainty and unease. Murder, mayhem and devilish brooding abound. Now just imagine that, as the ride ends, you are not ushered into a harbor of light and serenaded by soothing music, but rather the tracks through your “ride” suddenly jolt you around a vicious curve where darkness no longer is primarily a sense but rather a physical enemy. Where the playthings of man’s inventions turn morosely into the sure and enduring tools of the trade of evil. Imagine being thrust downward, ever downward, into an abyss of eternal terror and torment. Forever. Never will there be the slowing down of mechanics and docking in a welcome station. Downward, ever downward, each clacking of wheel on metal taking you into a lower dungeon of blackened fire.
Not very amusing now, is it? You say, I thought this was Green Pastures? Where is the sound of babbling brook and breezes through the grasses? Consider: the picture just painted is the destiny of our loved ones without Christ. Right now, beloved, we are with them in the car on this sometimes scary ride through life and it is ours to go with them in these twists and turns, compelling them to come with us to the safe place of His Light and Life. Let us go. For them. For Him.
I fear, too often, that we are much like those who pass on the Haunted House ride and let our loved ones go there instead. Not my bag, we think to ourselves. They’ll somehow make it through, we reason. We watch them pay the fare, and with a wave and a whoosh, see them disappear behind a veil of dark. That being done, we hunch our shoulders, turn and search longingly for the line to “It’s A Small World After All.”