I sobbed and sniffed in my bunk. Mom left Johnny Carson’s opening monologue to sit on the edge of my bed, pat my chest and hear my fears. Our pastor had preached yet another sermon about the rapture – that fabled day when he said Jesus would return and take every living Christian to heaven. In the process, he said, unmanned cars would careen into homes and pedestrians, planes would collide with suburbs and skyscrapers.
I was six and scared that I hadn’t repeated that sinner’s prayer after the pastor exactly right. That I’d be left behind fighting for my life in an apocalyptic America run by the anti-Christ and his minions. Without mom and dad.
A few years later I slept in on a Saturday morning. When I woke to an empty house I called for my parents, my sister. No answer. On the front sidewalk I did the same. Then from the back porch. Not knowing they were next door talking to neighbors I decided to call my grandmother – my mom’s mom – four hours away – the woman who knew every word to every hymn and got up at 4:30 each morning to read her bible. If she answered the phone, I figured, Jesus either didn’t come snatch his people in the night after all or he had the oddest standards. Taking my sister to heaven and not my grandmother?
Then Jesus was supposed to take us during art class my freshman year. I put down my pencil, squinted out at the clouds through large plate glass windows, counted all I’d miss. OK, honestly, I just mostly mourned that I’d not seen a girl naked yet. This is the value system of a fifteen year-old boy.
Harold Camping has done the math and says Jesus is coming back tomorrow. He’s probably wrong. But if he’s not I have no fear of going or longing to stay.
I’ve seen a girl naked. At least three times.
And I trust.
I trust that the death and resurrection of Jesus appeased a God who hates sin and turned away his wrath. I trust that He keeps His promises – that He will never leave me in this life or the next. I trust that life beside Him anywhere is better than life at a distance down here. I trust that He knows history because He is its Author. And I trust He’ll forgive Harold Camping for getting it wrong tomorrow and forgive me for not always wishing the Harolds of this world were right.
I trust now.
But my son’s going to be really ticked if he misses his last flag football game of the season. This is the value system of an eight year-old boy.