Tag Archives: Rapture

Scared me to death!

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When I was in 1st grade, a series of Christian movies were made about “the Rapture”.  According to some churches, Jesus will return to Earth to collect all of his followers right before all Hell breaks loose, Apocalypse-style. Other churches teach that the believers will be “Raptured” some time during this horrible time of tribulation.  (Scholars have debated about the timing of the Last Days for centuries.)  It could go either way.  But this movie was made to scare lukewarm believers who would be “left behind”.

The first movie in the series was called, A Thief in the Night.  And it scared the Jesus into me!  I was only in first grade, and we were not a family that watched horror movies, so this whole genre seemed very real to me.  To make matters worse, the movie was filmed in my hometown of Des Moines, Iowa and some of the actors were people that we knew in real life!  The worst of it was that our PASTOR played the role of the BAD GUY!  It totally freaked me out!

I remember going to “Family Movie Night” in our local Christian school cafa-gym-atorium (as Ray Romano calls it).  I remember sitting on folding chairs with the smell of popcorn wafting through the air.  I was excited!  I had no idea that after this night, I would have nightmares for years to come!

So fast forward about 20 years to our days as youth pastors.  One time we told our teenagers about these movies and they literally begged us to find them and show them at youth group.  So we did.  We searched high and low and finally found some used copies for sale on-line.  Fortunately they were in VHS form, because no one had the old reel-to-reel projectors anymore.  So we arranged a movie night in youth group.

I have to say that for the first 20 minutes, there was a lot of laughing and joking about the 70’s style hair-dos and bell bottoms.  And I agreed.  I wondered if it would have the same impact after all these years.  The acting was corny and the fashions were frightening enough, but after an hour and 20 minutes, the room was silent and tense.  Some kids covered their eyes with horror.  Some kids shed a few tears.  It was a good altar call at the end.

So it WAS a scary movie after all.  I wasn’t sure if today’s jaded teenager would be as terrified as I was as an innocent 1st grader back in the late 70s.  The theme proved a popular one when a few years later the entire “Left Behind” book series became available.  Our teenagers gobbled those books up!  The fear of being left behind is one that has haunted generations of Christian kids, and I was glad (in a twisted sort of way) to pass along that fear to a new generation of teenagers.  Misery loves company, you know.

But the point of my telling this story is that none of us knows how much time we have left here on this Earth.  If it were to all end suddenly, would you be ready?

Here’s the frighteningly corny theme song from those old movies.  Careful, it will get stuck in your head!

Taxes and the Rapture

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If there’s any subject 100% certain to cause me stress, it’s money.  When I was a child, my family was in financial distress all the time.  There was always talk of not enough and of the grand-daddy of all money woes:  Taxes.  My parents’ business owed back taxes, so this word was always floating through their conversations.  They didn’t realize it, but I was listening, always listening.  I didn’t know what taxes were, but they sounded so scary!

I had another great fear as a child, also due to a mysterious word floating through the adults’ conversations:  The Rapture.  In the type of church that I grew up in, the preacher often taught about the Second coming of Christ, also called the Rapture, when all the believers would be snatched up to heaven in “the twinkling of an eye”.  There were songs written about it, sermons preached about it, and even movies made about it.  From the movies, I had the idea that we would all fly upwards naked, leaving our pile of clothing as an ominous indicator of whatever activity we were engaged in at that singular moment.  I was OK with flying naked into Heaven, but my major concern lay in the final destination of my blankie.  If we weren’t bringing any fabric to Heaven, then what would become of my beloved blankie?  I wasn’t sure I could enjoy Heaven without it.  This caused me deep anguish.

As an adult, I have out grown my blankie-love and it’s accompanying fear of loss, but I still carry tension where money is concerned.  I have over and over again experienced God’s faithfulness in providing for our financial needs, but it’s a hard lesson for me to retain.  I seem to have to learn it over and over again.  I’m like those block-headed Children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years learning and forgetting how to trust God.  Learning and forgetting, relearning and forgetting again.  So last night when my husband said, “it’s another bad month for us” my heart clenched in my chest.

Our livelihood, every penny we need, comes from supporting churches and individuals back home.  And when times are tough back home, times are tough overseas too.  Month-to-month we are thankful for our faithful supporters who don’t forget that we are still “out there”, who don’t abandon us.  And month-to-month, God stretches the money somehow.  We’ve cut corners, eliminated luxuries (from an American’s perspective), and pinched pennies.  It’s just tight all around.  And it’s tight around my heart too.

We do what we have to do to survive.  This week I accepted a teaching position at my kids’ school.  Due to the kind of visas we have, I can’t actually receive payment, but I worked out a deal with the administration to convert what I would get paid into free tuition for my 3 kids.  This is huge for us!  Schooling isn’t free overseas.

We have made tough choices for our family.  We feel responsible to our supporters and want to respect their sacrifices as well, so we are careful about how we spend our money.  We chose a school that fits within our missionary way of life, yet is not the most expensive school there is.  We don’t have our kids in the expensive sports clubs.  They just have the after school activities that meet in the dusty old barn of a gym at their school.  They don’t get expensive music lessons.  We pay a friend to teach guitar lessons.  We are careful with how we spend our money.

My point is, we do make tough decisions, just like many of you have to make.  We make sacrifices to survive, just like you do.  And I have to remind myself constantly that God has been faithful to us… just like you have to remind yourselves of this.  Ultimately, the style of life that we have chosen is a life of faith.  We believe, though we don’t see it yet.  We believe that God will pull us through at the end of the month, but we don’t see it until the last minute.  Just like we believe that Jesus is coming back for us, though we haven’t seen it yet.

The Christian life is a faith walk… it’s meant to be.  It’s supposed to challenge us.  It’s designed to teach us how to remember- through repetition we remember the lessons of how to Trust in our Faithful God.  These are the faith-building stories that we tell ourselves and tell our children.  God has been faithful, and He will be again.