Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Happily Ever After?

Do you think there is such a thing as happily ever after? When I was little, I loved the fairy tales that would end with "and they lived happily ever after". No more conflict as the conflict in the story had been resolved, usually by the handsome prince, and just like that, the couple is launched into "happily ever after". Growing up in a dysfunctional family, I used to dream of days such as these, the day that all my troubles would be over and happily ever after would kick in. Of course, as we get older and we go through life, we quickly learn there's a reason those stories are called fairy tales, right?

I never thought that by the age of 37, I would personally know several people who have experienced tragedies in their life; divorce, death of a child, cancer, alcoholism, drug abuse. Suffering is such a part of our life here on earth. There's no avoiding it, there's no getting around it, it's here. Sufferings, temptations, sin, it's all here.

I attend a Community Bible Study, which is an in-depth study of a book of the Bible. My particular group is a group for women and we have been studying Genesis. (I would encourage you to find a CBS in your community. The time spent studying is priceless and so worth it!) As we go through Genesis, we have looked closely at the life of Abraham and Lot. I was really struck this week by something and wanted to work through it a bit here.

I will admit that one of my ongoing struggles is to fight the stronghold of materialism. I am always wanting something more. I love to buy things for my house, things for my kids, etc. Just when I think I've got it all, I can make a list of 10 more things I must have. Bottom line, I love to spend money. With the Christmas season here, it's really bad. Jason and I are sticking to a smaller Christmas this year, trying to focus on the real reason we celebrate Christmas. I have to confess, I'm already itching! Who signed up for all these catalogs anyway?

In my study this week, I read a verse in Luke that has been on my brain since. I'll start with Genesis 19, which is the chapter I studied this week. In Genesis 19, God destroys Sodom & Gomorrah because the town was so wicked that God could not find just one righteous person living there. Lot had been living in S&G and God told him to leave the town as He would be destroying it. In God's instructions, he told Lot and his family to keep walking and not look back. If you're familiar with this story, you know that Lot's wife disobeyed God and she looked back. Immediately, she became a pillar of salt. (God means business! There's no bluffing with Him.)

As I studied this chapter in depth, I was lead to Luke 17:30-32. In this story, Luke is referencing the story of S&G. It was a typical day in the city. Folks were working, women were shopping; everyone was going about their business on a day that began like any other. However, in an instant, God destroyed the city. I wonder if those people had a second to think, to regret...

Luke goes on to compare this to the day when Christ returns. Here are his words: "It will be just like this (S&G) on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot's wife!"

Wow! Does this hit you like it hit me? Of course, I won't be on my roof, but I'm sure I'll be going about my day with the things that normally occupy my time. In an instant, He will come! It won't matter what things I have waiting for me in my comfy house, in an instant, my Savior will appear and I will walk away from it all. I will not have a second thought to go back and get those shoes that I just had to have or that toy that my kids love so much, or the new comforter I just bought for my bed, or that necklace that I just couldn't live without. It won't matter! I'll be with my King! I'll have all the treasures I would ever want or need. The hardships of this life will be behind me and I'll get my happily ever after!

I've shared this before, but just love how Max Lucado paints the day of when Christ returns. I get chills when I read it, so thought I'd share it again here.

You are in your car driving home. Thoughts wander to the game you want to see or meal you want to eat, when suddenly a sound unlike any you’ve ever heard fills the air. The sound is high above you. A trumpet? A choir? A choir of trumpets? You don’t know, but you want to know.

So you pull over, get out of your car, and look up. As you do, you see you aren’t the only curious one. The roadside has become a parking lot. Car doors are open, and people are staring at the sky. Shoppers are racing out of the grocery store.

The Little League baseball game across the street has come to a halt. Players and parents are searching the clouds. And what they see, and what you see, has never before been seen.

As if the sky were a curtain, the drapes of the atmosphere part. A brilliant light spills onto the earth. There are no shadows. None. From whence came the light begins to tumble a river of color spiking crystals of every hue ever seen and a million more never seen. Riding on the flow is an endless fleet of angels. They pass through the curtains one myriad at a time, until they occupy every square inch of the sky.





Thousands of silvery wings rise and fall in unison, and over the sound of the trumpets, you can hear the cherubim and seraphim chanting, Holy, holy, holy. The final flank of angels is followed by twenty-four silver-bearded elders and a multitude of souls who join the angels in worship.

Presently the movement stops and the trumpets are silent, leaving only the triumphant triplet: Holy, holy, holy. Between each word is a pause. With each word, a profound reverence. You hear your voice join in the chorus. You don’t know why you say the words, but you know you must.

Suddenly, the heavens are quiet. All is quiet. The angels turn, you turn, the entire world turns and there He is.


Through waves of light you see the silhouetted figure of Christ the King. He is atop a great stallion, and the stallion is atop a billowing cloud. He opens his mouth, and you are surrounded by his declaration:

I am the Alpha and the Omega.

The angels bow their heads. The elders remove their crowns. And before you is a Figure so consuming that you know, instantly you know:

Nothing else matters. Forget stock markets and school reports. Sales meetings and football games. Nothing is newsworthy...

All that mattered, matters no more...

for Christ has come...

Does this make you wonder where you will be when The Day comes? What will you be doing? Does it make you hope that you are ready? If you are not sure, read this.

Lord, keep my mind focused on You. Let all things that are unnecessary fade into the background. Oh, how I want to be ready on that amazing day when You return!

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