I remember seeing signs up in Sacramento that said, the world will end on October 9, 1993. I’m not sure how they came up with October 9th since it’s not a special day, not an important holy day, or witch’s holiday or Marilyn Manson’s birthday (PS I do not believe he is the antichrist- just a very broken and sad man). But, I remember thinking, what if they are right- what if the world ends in three weeks? Then October 10 came around and I thought the people who made those flyers must feel like the biggest idiots. I tried to predict the end of the world shortly after that, thinking it would give me the greatest bragging rights of all time- the ultimate victory as the know-it-all ten year old I was. I was wrong too, not surprising since I just kept guessing tomorrow until I learned more about the Rapture and Tribulation.
I was in fifth grade when my Sunday School teacher, Lori, thought we should discuss how the world would end. It was not a good class. I remember we prayed and did a craft. I wish I could remember what craft we did on Rapture lesson day since I think it would be pretty funny. But she began to tell us that someone would become a powerful world leader and would tell people to do things they shouldn’t. This would be the anti-Christ. True story- when I was in high school, my friend Ben swore Bill Clinton was the anti-Christ. He was also wrong. But Lori told us that the anti-Christ would ask us to get bar codes printed on our hands or computer chips implanted in the back of our hands. And we should not do that- it was the mark of the beast. If we received the mark of the beast, we would not go to Heaven, even if we had accepted Jesus. And then everyone would get sick and no one would be happy and then Jesus would come back and rescue all the Christians in the world. We would all vanish, as if we had been vaporized. Our clothes would still be there and our cars, much like the bumper sticker says, would be unoccupied and crash into things. We would be safe. But he would only rescue the real Christians. The other people would have to stay on the earth for the Tribulation, which would be way worse. The Tribulation would involve bombs and wars and darkness and smog (at least the way I imagined it). We all had to be sure we were real Christians and did not receive a micro-chip, or we would not be rescued. This is what I learned in fifth grade.
A few years later, I read an article about the GPS locator chips implanted in dogs. I thought to myself, well, the end of the world is coming now that they can actually easily implant chips into animals’ skin.
Then in high school, I came home one day to find a half-eaten quesadilla on the counter, a deck of cards left strewn on the floor and a letter half-opened on the dining room table. My first thought was that Jesus had come back and taken my family and left me behind. I would have to live through the Tribulation, without my family. I then prayed to accept Jesus into my heart for the fiftieth time in my life. A few minutes later I discovered my dog had been hit by a car and they had all dropped everything to take him to the vet. I did not share my Rapture fear with anyone. It seemed like I was admitting I wasn’t a real Christian.
For good reason, I used to hate the book of Revelation. So many people think it describes the future and exactly how the world will end. I don’t understand the fascination with the end of the world. When it comes to Armageddon, my policy is strictly “Ignorance is bliss.” I figure that when the world ends, if I am alive, I will not have the time or energy to run around saying “Told you so.” So I might as well act like it’s not going to end for awhile. People have always argued that the end is just around the corner. Then the day they predicted for Jesus’ return comes and they go to sleep that night, waiting to be raptured, only to wake up and realize they were wrong and have to face their neighbors who probably already thought they were crazy.
I’m beginning to appreciate Revelation now though because it tells us who Jesus is. And that no matter what we struggle with in the present moment, he defeats all of that. I don’t really like the idea of heaven as a golden city with pearly gates and fountains of joy. I also hope we do not really have to stand around singing praise songs forever. That does not sound fun to me. I do however like the part in Revelation when John describes how no one will be sick or cry or be depressed or anxious (my own translation). And I like how there will be people from all different tribes and nations there. And I like that we will be eternally happy and have purpose in our lives and be just like we were made to be. When you describe it like that, I am happy to join John in saying, Come, Lord Jesus, come.