Get ready now because you won’t have time later

Yesterday evening started out like a normal Sunday night. I was getting ready for my workday in the morning (packing up goody bags for Christmas presents, if you must know). My folks were doing their own thing in another room.

That’s when a huge clap of thunder rattled the house.

We live in Kansas. A thunderstorm isn’t necessarily unusual–but a thunderclap that loud in the middle of December? That’s a bit strange. Even for us. But I wasn’t prepared for what I heard next: Dad shouting from the living room that our county had just been placed in a tornado warning.

A tornado warning? Seriously? Not just a “hey, watch out because you might get some bad wind” sort of a thing. But a Tornado Warning, which usually means there’s a tornado on the ground, and you need to get to shelter almost immediately (after you run outside and take pictures of it).

I dropped everything I was doing and verified that he was right. Yes. Big glaring red spot on the radar map. Heading straight for our house.

Of course.

Click for Video of the December 14, 2014 Tornado

Click for Video of the December 14, 2014 Tornado

The next thing I did? I grabbed my backpack from the corner and took it downstairs to the basement. My backpack has everything that really matters to me in it. My laptop with all my latest writing, and my flash drives with all my latest backups. Then, I put on my shoes and helped my mom carry down some valuables. Then, I went outside with Dad and watched the crazy amount of lightning.

And then, because I’m a hard-nosed, vicious, uncaring farm person, I grabbed my outdoor farm kitty (the unflappable and ridiculous Amelia Pond) and brought her inside to the basement too.

Just as we all got settled, waiting to jump under the stairwell with the twin mattress off the guest bed on top of us–the National Weather Service canceled the warning.

And that was it. We got some wind. More lightning and thunder. A bit of rain. But the rest of it went around us, or it died out before it got to us.

Some folks who don’t live in Kansas might think we were overreacting, but you don’t screw around with night tornadoes. Just like rain-wrapped tornadoes, you can’t see them, and you have to rely on the Doppler indications. By the time they’re close enough for you to feel the pressure drop in your ears, it’s probably too late.

Now, was it weird to have a possible tornado less than two weeks before Christmas? Sure. But it’s Kansas and anything can happen. Heck, they’re forecasting snow on Wednesday.

What I’ve learned after 20 years of living in this crazy, bipolar state is that you never take the weather for granted. Here it can change in the blink of an eye, and I’ve discovered that dyed-in-the-wool Kansans usually live very simple lives. Why? Because their material possessions may be blown away in a tornado a week before Christmas. If you live here, you have to be ready to dive into a shelter at a moment’s notice.

You have to be ready.

(not the tornado from yesterday)

(not the tornado from yesterday)

Today’s verses are Matthew 24:42-44.

“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

If you are a Christ-follower, you should know that this world isn’t our home. We’re just passing through. We will live forever in a place that God made for us Himself, but we don’t get to go there until Jesus comes back to get us.

The problem? We don’t know when He’s coming.

When you’re waiting for someone and you keep waiting and waiting and waiting, it’s tempting to lose focus. I mean, you’ve been waiting for so long, it feels like you’ll never stop. And then you start wondering if the person you’re waiting for is actually coming. What if you’ve been waiting for no reason? What if you’ve just been wasting your time watching for someone who never intended to come get you in the first place?

Christians, living on Earth with that mindset is like not believing that there can be a tornado at Christmastime.

That’s not to say that Jesus won’t take you if you aren’t ready. No, if you belong to Him, He’ll take you home when He comes back. But wouldn’t you hate to leave this life with unfinished business? Wouldn’t you have to leave people you love behind? Wouldn’t you hate losing your most precious possessions–your friends and family–because you didn’t take Jesus seriously enough?

Be ready all the time. Never stop watching for Him. He’s coming. Like a tornado at night. You might not be able to see Him coming, but you see the indications that the time is getting closer.

So don’t take it for granted. Don’t weigh yourself down living a complicated life with too many things that don’t matter. Live focused. Live simple. And secure the things that you never want to lose–like your own soul and like the souls of the people around you.

He’s coming. Nobody will expect Him. He’ll just be here. And then you’ll be gone.

Get ready now, because you won’t have time later.

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.

What’s taking so long?

Do you ever wonder why God is taking so long to keep His last promise to us? It’s frustrating too because that last promise of His (the one where He says He’ll come back for us) is the one that makes us all sound like we’re one fry short of a Happy Meal. But it’s in the Bible. So I believe it. And I don’t subscribe to the crazies who have the day picked out (I think it’s October 21 now) because no one but God knows when He’s returning. Not even Jesus knows . . . and He is God . . . He’s just not God the Father (just try to wrap your brain around that one) . . . . so if Jesus doesn’t know, I guarantee nobody on Earth has a clue.

But do you ever wonder why God is taking His sweet time?

There are days when I get so tired of waiting on Him to come back. I am so weary of this world, of dealing with fake Christians, of struggling with this dark nature inside me that makes me want to do things I know are wrong. I want to go home where none of that will exist and where I’ll be able to hang with Jesus face to face every day, where we’ll be able to approach God and thank Him for all He’s done for us — no longer separated by this wall of fallen humanity I’m stuck in. And it’ll never be night. And time won’t matter. And we’ll be able to do the things we love to do every day without having to worry about paying bills or having something to eat or making people angry.

Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? =)

So what’s taking Him so long? People have been talking about God’s returning for us for thousands of years. There are days when I feel like Noah building the ark, and all my neighbors pass by laughing at me. If you haven’t ever listened to the Bill Cosby routines about Noah and the Neighbor, click on the video below.

But on those days when I start getting frustrated, I think about today’s verse, 2 Peter 3:9.

9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

We humans are always moving so fast. We never like to slow down, and it’s hard for us to remember that God is patient. He loves this world so much that He doesn’t want to just snatch everyone up and forget the rest. No! That would contradict everything God is.

And while most prophecy has been fulfilled, there is still one outstanding. And that is that every nation will have the opportunity to come to know Christ. And that hasn’t happened yet. There are still nations of people who haven’t heard the truth yet. Like that tribe of folks they just discovered in the Amazon.

Everyone in the world needs to have the chance to make a choice. That’s why World Missions are so important. Bringing the Gospel to peoples who’ve never heard it before is something we’re commanded to do. But on that same note, I’d like to hope that He’s being patient for the U.S. too. Because while the rest of the world seems to be coming to Christ by the truckload, the U.S. is stuck in a rut. But can a country that was founded with a Christian heritage (it was; do your research and go read all the monuments in DC and you’ll see) who has fallen away from their roots ever go back to them again? Everyone in the U.S. has heard the truth, and the vast majority of people have chosen to ignore it, opting either to follow their own hearts or to follow some man’s teaching.

I’m glad God is patient. Because if He can be patient with all the people who are left in the world who don’t know His name, that means He can be patient with me when I forget who He is. And while I don’t think His patience will ever end, there is a day when He will have to move. And while I selfishly look forward to the day I can go home, I hope when that day comes that everyone I know is ready.