Sunday, May 22, 2011

On the Fact that We Are All Still Here

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only.

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came, and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Then shall two be in the field: the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

Matthew 24: 36-42

I don't know how much attention this story got in Kentucky, but up here in Washington we were told that the world would end yesterday. For weeks, we've had preachers on the Mall and on Pennsylvania Avenue warning us that the Day of the Lord is at hand.

As it turned out, yesterday was one of the most beautiful days of the whole year -- a bright clear day, with spectacular fluffy clouds. A day for reveling in the bright red of roses, the spangling blue of the sky, and the rich green of grass. All day, nature gleamed with health -- as if mocking the preachers of doom. Not only did the world not end, it looked as if it had never been better.

Throughout the day, I couldn't help but ponder the true believers as they sat inside through such beautiful weather, waiting for the rest of us to die. Many of them made real sacrifices to spread the faith. Some quit their jobs. Some left school. All of them risked looking foolish. And now, like so many others who have made similar predictions, they must have been tempted to feel that God had let them down.

He hadn't, of course. The splendid day was, to those willing to read it, a remarkable sign of God's mercy and grace. In the Middle Ages, St. Thomas Aquinas taught that one could derive the existence of God from the fact that someone had to be the "prime mover" -- the force that put our world in motion. Yesterday's beauty seemed to be an advertisement for this view. The same day that brought disillusion to some undoubtedly strengthened the faith of others.

And here, I think, we hit upon a lesson that can apply to all of us -- not just the few doom-mongers who were disappointed yesterday. It would be easy to mock their beliefs -- easy to look down on their disappointment. But what happened to them yesterday happens to all Christians: God gave them a great blessing (the beautiful day), but He didn't give them the blessing that they wanted. So often in life we claim to be disappointed by God, but we have the Story the wrong way around. We are not the heroes of the Story -- He is. If we set out an agenda for Him to follow, we will always be disappointed. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth. (John 3:8).


  1. I was very disappointed with how some of the mainstream media covered this story in mocking tones of the believers.

  2. For what it's worth, the believers were pretty cocksure and obnoxious, at least around here.

  3. Yes and yes to both comments. A lot of other Christians mocked the believers, too. I would just point out that these folks got more people reading, talking and thinking about Matthew 24 than most Sunday-school teachers are able to.