It is an awesome prospect about meeting God. But, people tend to not give it much serious consideration until life, limb or well-being is threatened.
When I was a teenager, I had a paper route for several years. Growing up in Wardensville in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, most of our news came from the Winchester Evening Star newspaper of Winchester, Virginia, which was about 30 miles away.
I maintained consistently a route of 120 customers. My papers were dropped off at W.D. Orndoff’s garage/service station there in Wardensville late each evening, Monday through Saturday. I would prop the bundle of papers up on the long soda cooler and quickly roll each with a rubber band, which took me about 10 minutes to roll the whole bundle. I usually took the time to consume a soda (15 cents) and a Smoothie (5 cents). Then, I would stuff the rolled papers into my paper-carrying sack, drape it over my shoulders, front and back, and hop on my bike for the long ride of home deliveries.
During the winter months, it was very dark by the time I got to the Sandfield area about a mile outside of Wardensville. The Hawkins’ home was the farthest part of the ride going out Wait’s Run Road a short distance.
About the time that I slipped a paper into the Hawkins’ paper box, something happened that gave me a startling scare. From my perspective in that dark isolated location, it was as though the sky blinked, and rolled over, and did a great cosmic shimmy.
It had happened, oh, so quickly, like, as the Scripture says, “in the twinkling of an eye.” It also caused me to get off my bike and stare at the sky. To make matters worse, it happened a second time. A terrifying thought occurred to me in that moment. Jesus Christ had come back in the Rapture, and I had been left behind. The thought paralyzed me that I had had plenty of time to prepare to meet God, but I had not done so.
It is the Prophet Amos who uttered the shuttering statement, “Prepare to meet thy God.” Inherent with that startling exhortation is inevitability. It is inevitable that each of us will, at some point, encounter God. There will be no getting around it. Some think that physical death is the only inevitability. But, physical death is merely the transition time of being confronted by God. What will it be like to be confronted by Almighty God when our souls pass into eternity?
Also inherent with that startling exhortation is time. “Prepare” suggests that there is presently time to prepare to meet God. Time in this our present life means that there is opportunity for us to avail for ourselves. In other words, do it while you can! God has given timely warning to us to prepare for the inevitability of His coming confrontation of us.
Lastly, inherent with this inescapable prospect is the question of how to properly prepare. It is answered in the person of Jesus Christ. The world may not like this answer. Secret societies may not like this answer. Religious groups may not like this answer.
But, receiving Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior is the solitary answer for proper preparations for meeting God. That is why Christ died on the Cross. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Receiving Christ is the only way of being properly prepared to get into God’s Heaven.
In the meantime, I thought to myself I needed to get home as quickly as I could. If Mom and Dad were there, then I would be assured that the Rapture had not happened and that I had not been left behind. If it had happened, they would not be there for sure. I put the pedal to the metal of that Western Flyer bicycle, and got home (probably) in record time. When I ran into the house, they were not there as I checked the rooms. But, then the porch door opened and they walked in from having been on a little walk down along the creek behind the house. I never did tell them why I was so glad to see them.
In retrospect, what I had seen was probably the aurora borealis.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.