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How I Spent the Day the World Ended, and the Years that Followed

Feb 21 2011

Once again, events in the Middle East are sending the faithful (or should I say fearful) scrambling for their Bibles and dusting off copies of Hal Lidsey and Tim LaHaye books. I remember, as a young Christian, finding it very confusing when the fall of the Iron Curtain had this same effect on fellow believers: “Gorbachev will be killed and rise up again in three day; That stain on his head is really the mark of the beast; Freedom coming to these Communist countries is all part of Satan’s master plan;” on and on it went.

Then came Desert Storm. Sue and I were trying to conceive our first child then, and I remember a sister in Christ saying, “We’re on the verge of war, the economy’s a mess, the end is near, and here you are trying to start a family.” Some encouragement. That particular story ends with us having three daughters, and the world not ending yet.

And who that was alive at the time can forget the classic book “88 Reasons Why Jesus Will Return in 1988”. A lady we knew at the time said, “I don’t believe in date setting, but I’m staying home on the 11th (the day in 1988 when Jesus returned) just to be sure.” ‘What’s the point of that?’ I silently wondered. We spent that evening juggling in the Windham Mall. No trumpets sounded there, either, but if Jesus had returned, I’d like to think He’d prefer to find us there preaching His Word than home hiding under our beds. Ironically, author Edgar Whisenant wrote a sequel the next year, “89 Reasons Jesus Will Return in 1989”. I wish I was joking. If this were Old Testament times, I’m not sure there’d be enough stones for all the false prophets.

Of course, the end times were really going to start in conjunction with the Y2K crisis, perhaps the biggest urban legend ever circulated. I kinda believed this one for a while, but we didn’t have the money to stockpile food, and had to keep dipping into whatever small cache we had. In October, 1999, “Cornerstone” ran an article exposing the myth for what it was, and we stopped being concerned.

Then, of course, in 2008, the US elected the anti-Christ for President. This confused me, too, because I’m pretty convinced Emperor Nero fit the biblical description of the ’man of lawlessness’ much more precisely than Mr. Obama does. But books about Nero don’t sell nearly as many copies as the “Left Behind” series did, and it’s hard for FOX newscasters to get people fired up about Nero’s abuses since they happened way back in 70 AD. False prophecies sell so much better.

So what do I make of the revolutions in the Middle East? I’m not sure, but it certainly seems God, not Satan, is on the move. He’s in charge, and He’s not sleeping on the job; nor is He a doddering old fool who is unaware of events here on earth. He’s got our backs, and He’s got the backs of our brothers and sisters around the world. We need not hide under our beds. He holds the future firmly in His hands, and some day history will cease. May He find us faithful, not fearful.

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