…or at least it seems like it is some days!
I don’t know how many of you follow the news. For better or for worse, I do. There’s been a lot of natural disasters happening lately: cyclone in Burma, tornadoes in the USA, 7.9 earthquake in China. Add to that the economy spiraling downward, gas prices rising (which causes the price of everything else to rise), the perpetual presidential campaign news (I’m not excited by any of the candidates), and I’m makes me start to question why I even watch the news. And, close to home, we’re having major budget issues in our church, and there are no easy answers or quick solutions presenting themselves to us. Lots and lots of problems, lots and lots of questions, and not a lot of answers.
A few nights ago, all of this was really starting to get to me. I began to think, “The end of the world MUST be coming soon! Everything seems to be falling apart!” It was really starting to get my anxiety level up. But, thankfully, my faith brought my thoughts back to God, and so I turned to the Bible to look up the chapters on the End Times: Matthew 24 and Luke 20/21-ish. Reading those sections didn’t exactly ease my fears in the sense that there’s going to be a happy earthly resolution to all this, but at the same time it re-focused my thoughts on the fact that there IS going to be a happy ending — heaven. All of these disasters and hard times are “birth pains,” reminders that this world is in transition to a new world. And, God still promises to be with his people, he promises the seedtime and harvest will endure (despite global warming!), he promises us daily bread, and he promises us forgiveness of our sins. This world, with all of its problems, is NOT forever. What a relief!
Now that I’m a parent, I have the wonderful priviledge to raise two lovely girls with my husband. But when I start thinking about the end of the world, it terrifies me a bit to think that people I love and care about might not end up there. These thoughts “put the fear of God” into me, so to speak, to renew my efforts to raise my children to know Jesus as their Savior. It’s just not enough to believe in God, as so many people around here claim to believe. It’s not enough even to believe that he’s all-powerful, all-mighty, and all-knowing. He is our Savior, he is our life jacket, he is the one that we literally have to cling to every day of our life; he’s the only hope we have for getting out of this world alive. It’s strange: I’ve known these facts all my life, and for years I have been able to spout doctrine and creeds and beliefs at the drop of a hat (and be happily willing to debate those same things). I still can do all those things, but lately, all those beliefs of mine have become viscerally real to me. Perhaps it’s that I’m a parent and am now half of the duo that is to bring up my children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Honestly, I am terrified at the thought of a massive earthquake destroying my home, trapping me (or worse, my children) inside a building, being cut off from food, water, electricity, etc. I pray God that I never have to be in that situation. I am thankful every night for the safe, disaster-free day I just had. But I also trust that God will see me through anything that comes my way, and that even if I have to endure the worst, it will be nothing compared to the eternal bliss of heaven. And, for my children’s sake, I am so incredibly thankful for the sacrament of Baptism. I absolutely know that my children are part of God’s family. Baptizing my kids doesn’t mean my work teaching them about God is done, of course. Not at all! But just like in the Old Testament, God required his people to circumcise their sons on the 8th day to make them part of God’s family, I am so thankful to God for providing Baptism, a way to make even my babies a part of God’s family, too.
These days, hard times seem unavoidable. Seeing the devastation in Burma and China makes me feel like death is imminent. All of this spurs me on to do all I can to be absolutely sure that everyone I love, but especially my children, are there in heaven with me. I’ve been talking about religion with Lyd more than usual, and I continue to sing hymns to Baby J as I put her to sleep. JJ and I talk about these things, too, and all of it is very helpful to me.
It reminds me of a line from the hymn “Rock of Ages” that says “nothing in my hand I bring, simply to your cross I cling.” I feel like that today more than I ever have in my life. The forgiveness won at the cross and the promise of heaven that it guarantees is my life preserver in an endless sea of despair and confusion and disaster.
(By the way, whatever do people do who don’t believe in Jesus? How in the world do they sleep at night? Perhaps that’s why depression medications are the 3rd most prescribed medication in the USA, according to a story I read in the newspaper today.)
I suppose that this whole blog entry sounds a little devotional or preachy, but somehow, the reality of my faith has never meant more to me than what it has the last few days. And I want to share that with you, yes, YOU reading this blog. I want to share this with YOU. Think about it. Pray about it. And realize that Jesus is THE ONLY way.
(And, hey, if it turns out I’m wrong, and Jesus is not the only way, you won’t lose by believing in Jesus! You’ll still get to whatever higher spiritual plane you were hoping for, since it turns out that God is just some kindly old grandpa figure who pats us all on the head, proclaims us cute, and ushers us into his nice little heaven. But if I’m right … then there just may be hell to pay if you don’t believe in him. That’s a scary thought, and it’s one that makes me pray and teach my children and cling even harder to the cross.)