June 6, 2011
Be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming…for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Matthew 24:42, 44
Did you know that some our nation’s waterways are part of the Park Service?
The Missouri National Recreational River (MMNR) in Nebraska and South Dakota, falls into NPS’s National Wild and Scenic River category. According to the park’s website, “[t]he Missouri River is rich in cultural resources, in places that have a national, regional or local significance. Numerous historic sites and two archeological sites that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places are located in counties along the corridor but outside the park boundary. However, three historic sites are within the park: Spirit Mound, Meridian Bridge and Fort Randall.”
The Missouri is in the news right now because “[d]ue to usually high rainfall and snowpack conditions in the Upper Missouri River Basin, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must release an unprecedented amount of water from its six mainstem dams.” In other words, low-lying areas along the river’s route—in Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Iowa—are being swamped. The MNRR site is posting warnings about closures and dangerous conditions on its lands and waters.
Enough already with all the disasters, Lord!
Coupled with all the hoopla over the recent prediction of the end of the world (full disclosure: Many years ago, I used to work at one of the radio stations Mr. Camping’s organization owns. He wasn’t crazy then, honest!), all these recent physical calamities here and abroad can make a person feel uneasy. But I don’t think that’s what God intends. Matthew chapter 24 details many things that will happen become Jesus comes again—false teachers, wars, famines, earthquakes, lawlessness, increasing evil and decreasing love for God—but He also says, “see that you are not frightened” (v. 6).
And He adds, “’See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying “I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many…many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many…even the elect [true believers], if possible’” (vv. 4, 5, 11, 24). When Jesus comes again, there will be no guessing, no mistaking and no doubt about what’s happening (vv. 27-31).
But like those unfortunate people who live in areas prone to flooding, tornadoes and earthquakes, it pays to be prepared. Those who rode out the tornadoes did so because they heeded the advance warning and found a safe place to hide. Flood victims moved to higher ground. Earthquake survivors found shelter under strong supports or in buildings that didn’t fall. Certainly a lot of property was destroyed—and I’m not minimizing the loss in the least—but over and over again, you hear those who came through with family and friends intact, “We can always rebuild; at least we have each other. That’s what’s most important.”
Those same principles of vigilance and readiness are necessary for the Christian life. Jesus used several parables—earthly stories that convey a spiritual meaning—back to back in Matthew 24 and 25 to emphasize them as relates to His coming again. To me, three of the most striking are these:
–an aware householder who, if he knew what time at night a thief was coming, would thwart the robbery (24:43);
–a slave who has the honor of being in charge of the house while his master is away, yet decides to mistreat the staff and get drunk instead, then is caught when the master unexpectedly comes home early (24:45-51); and
–the ten young women who, in the custom of the times, waited for the bride and groom to resume the wedding celebration; half didn’t bring enough oil for their lamps and had to go get some more, and thus missed out on all the festivities (25:1-13).
The contrast between the responsible and ready, the foolish and unprepared made a significant difference in each case.
God makes it clear in these chapters that we don’t know when the world will end. We don’t even know what tomorrow will bring, whether terrible calamity or the same old, same old.
We can’t cover all our bases in preparing for the future. But one thing we can do is hang our hat on the One who does hold today and tomorrow (and yes, even yesterday) in His hands, the Alpha and Omega—the beginning and the end—of all creation (Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13). He alone is our “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1), our hiding place (Psalm 32:7), our strong tower where we can run and be safe (Proverbs 18:10), and the one who leads us to higher ground (Psalm 27:5, 40:2, 61:2).
You just can’t go wrong with that foundation, no matter what the world throws at you!