Star of Bethlehem ornament on my tree, Haven, KS

Some things are worth the wait

Something really exciting is happening this coming Wednesday. It’s something I’ve been waiting for almost a whole year: my best friend is coming home! If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ve heard about her. And if you follow my writing blog, you probably saw my adventures in England and Scotland when I went to visit her this summer.

I can’t even explain how eager I am to have her home. I’ve felt like I’ve been missing a limb this year, or maybe the other half of my heart. And as I was sitting here freezing in my unheated upstairs office (it’s 13 degrees outside), I started thinking about another instance where Someone long-expected dropped by for a visit.

Star of Bethlehem ornament on my tree, Haven, KS

Star of Bethlehem ornament on my tree, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Titus 2:11-14.

For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

Did you realize God promised to send Jesus to save us in the book of Genesis? That’s the first book of the Bible. Shortly after Adam and Eve sinned, God promised to send a Savior. From that moment on, people were waiting for Him. Prophets wrote about Him. Writers composed songs about Him. And believers in every nation of the world never stopped searching the skies for Him.

They waited thousands and thousands of years. Shoot, that makes my mere 11 months of waiting for my Katie to come home seem like nothing. Thousands and thousands of years? Good grief. And I’m going to be giddy with excitement when I see her. Imagine how people felt when Christ came!

It’s no wonder the wise men travelled so far. It’s no wonder the shepherds bowed at the manger. They had been waiting a very, very long time.

When you get right down to it, we’re still waiting for Him. He came, yes, and He left again, but He promised to come back. And Jesus always keeps His promises. So the world has lapsed back into
watchful skepticism, waiting for Him to appear on the clouds and take us home.

How many people died waiting for Him to come in the first place? How many people dreamed of the moment that He would come to Earth and what they would do and what they would say, and then they died before that moment could come to fruition? I’m sure it happened. There have been many people who have died before they got to experience the fulfillment of God’s promises on Earth. True, they got to experience the fulfillment of God’s promises in Heaven, which is ten times better than experiencing it down here. But waiting can be disheartening.

Sometimes the longer you wait, the harder it is to believe that those promises will ever actually come to be. In those moments when you want to give up and despair, remember who God is. This is the God who made the universe, who knew we would betray Him and loved us anyway. This is the God who has kept every promise He ever made, even when we didn’t deserve His kindness. This is the God who sacrificed His own Son so we could have life.

God promised to send Jesus to save us, and He did. God has promised to redeem us, and He has. God has promised Christ will come again. So we’re waiting, and we’ll keep waiting until we finally get to see Him.

It’s like knowing you’re going to get a Christmas present but not being able to see it until the day you can open it. It’s like waiting for your best friend to come home after a year away, knowing that she will be there soon but not being able to hug her until you’re in the same room. It’s something you know but you can’t experience yet.

Waiting is hard, but we don’t wait in vain. God isn’t late; He’ll show up exactly when He means to, exactly when the time is right. So don’t give up. Keep waiting. And imagine how exciting it will be when we finally get to meet face to face.

Mayan ruin - Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

How do you live at the end of the world?

I don’t trust the Mayans. So when I see a lot of people up in arms about the world supposedly ending on December 21 this year, I don’t exactly roll my eyes, but I certainly don’t take them seriously. People thought there would be a catastrophe in 2001 too. Remember Y2K? And I think it was this year or maybe last year when someone started assuring everyone that the end of the world would come then. But it didn’t. And unfortunately, those folks have been made into the Boy who cried wolf.

It’s unfortunate because the world as we know it will end someday soon. The Bible promises that it will, but the Bible assures us that no man knows the day it’s going to happen. Not sure how this is possible, but even Christ said that only God the Father knows that date (Matthew 24:36).

So where does that leave us? It leaves us on the cusp; that’s where we are. I’m no scholar, but if I’m right, there’s only one prophecy that remains to be fulfilled. And that is for the whole world to have the opportunity to know Christ. Folks are still working on that because there are still some areas of the globe where Christ hasn’t been shared, but once that happens? Everything else the Bible has prophesied would happen has happened.

And this isn’t like some wild-eyed prophet preaching about the end of the world. It’s not like a blockbuster movie where the world experiences all sorts of crazy natural disasters. It’s not like a computer bug that will send our culture rocketing back to the stone age. This is a promise in a Book that was written thousands of years ago by more than 60 different authors over a period of thousands of years, a Book that doesn’t contradict itself once and that has remained relevant to culture in spite of radical changes in the world. It’s not a promise made in chaos; it’s a promise that comes from a trustworthy, consistent source. And actually, it’s not even the end of the world; it’s the beginning of the end of the world, and the only thing we know is that it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

Mayan ruin - Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

Mayan ruin – Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verses are Romans 13:8-11

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

The Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites so that they would know what God expected of them. If anyone can follow the Ten Commandments word-for-word perfectly every day of their lives, they are worthy to have a relationship with God. But no one can do that. That’s the true point of the Ten Commandments, to show us that we need God and that we need His forgiveness if we want to walk with Him. So the Ten Commandments show us what God expects from us and how to live, but since we are incapable of meeting His expectations and He offers us forgiveness for that, the Ten Commandments represent a lifestyle instead.

But who can keep track of ten laws? Maybe that’s lazy of me to say, but that’s a lot, especially in day-to-day life. I’m all for summaries, although I’m sure you would never believe it because of the length of these crazy devos.

The Ten Commandments can be summarized in two phrases: Love God. Love people.

God should come first in our lives. No one should be a higher priority than He is. Our lives belong to Him anyway, and the least we can do is give ourselves back to Him. That’s salvation. That’s why Christ came and died for us.

But what about the rest? Love people. That’s how we show we’re different from people who don’t believe. That’s how we demonstrate that what we believe is real. We love people who don’t deserve to be loved, because God loved us when we didn’t deserve to be loved. That’s what this verse is saying: love people.

Why? Well, other than the fact that God has commanded it, because we don’t have a lot of time left. Yes, Romans was written a very long time ago, and, yes, Paul was saying even then that we didn’t have a lot of time. But look how long it’s taken to get the word out. Thousands of years have passed and the whole world still doesn’t know.

So what does all this mean for today?

I’m tired. I’m bone weary of our culture and the darkness. I’m tired of being looked at funny when I talk about living the way Christ has told us to. And I’m tired of being sad and grieving for a world (and even other believers) that has turned their backs on the God who gave so much to save them. But I can be encouraged because I trust Scripture and I trust God, and everything points to the fact that Christ is coming back soon. Very soon.

So I’m going to keep pressing forward. I’m going to love people, and I’m going to love people now more than I did yesterday because if God can use my love to turn someone’s heart toward Him in these last days, it will be worth it. And love has a better chance of that than pounding them on the head with a Bible.

And who knows? Maybe December 21 is it. Because, seriously, who really does know for sure?