Friday, July 17, 2009

Come Lord Jesus

All this week, my mind has been on a sermon I heard last Sunday about the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. The preacher explained that Jesus was not directly comparing the unrighteous judge to God. Jesus was saying that if an evil man will answer a persistent plea, how much more will our Heavenly Father who loves us answer our diligent prayer. But this prayer, the preacher told us, isn't the "I want a new bike" kind of prayer. He said that Jesus told this parable to illustrate what he was explaining in the chapter before (Luke 17:20-37) about how we are to be expectant of God's Kingdom. He explained that we can see this kind of expectancy in the prayers of our persecuted brothers and sisters who persistently pray for Jesus' return so that they might be vindicated and find relief from the fear and pain that define their daily existence. The preacher pointed out that we in America, when confronted with praying for Jesus' return, can often be hesitant. He told of a young person who wants to experience prom, college, getting married, and having children. Knowing that everything will change when Jesus comes back, she is afraid she will miss out on those everyday life experiences. So she finds it difficult to pray, "Come, Lord Jesus. Come." with our persecuted brothers and sisters.

This is where my mind took over. Do I pray for Jesus' return as diligently as I do for my car to pass inspection or for the new iPhone? I had to answer no. So of course my next question was - shouldn't I? I've been through so much pain and abuse in my life that there are scars that will only be healed with Jesus' return and the ushering in of God's Kingdom. While I would not insult my persecuted brothers and sisters by comparing my life to theirs, I have a glimpse, from my own experience, of what it's like to fear for my life. I know what it's like to just want to die so that the pain and hardship would end. I know that on the day Jesus returns - I will finally see my little boy again and the aching hole his death has left in my heart will be filled with joy and love again. All very good, albeit selfish, reasons to be in constant prayer for his return.

But then I started thinking about those I love who don't know him yet and those who have never heard of the Lord and his gift of salvation. My thoughts drifted back to September 11, 2001. About how one minute life was going along like it always does for the people in New York, the Pentagon, and on the plane that went down in Pennsylvania, and the next moment...gone. All of a sudden, they didn't have any more time to come to a saving belief in the Lord Jesus. I cried that day for those people the most. When Jesus comes back, I believe that everyday life as we know it will be irrevocably changed and we will experience the wonder and joy of God's Kingdom in ways that we currently don't have the capacity to imagine. But, for those who have been putting off the decision, who have never heard of him, who have rejected him because they have been hurt by those who carry his name, for those people time will be up. Can I pray for that?

I can't speak for the persecuted. But for me, I'm willing to live with the emotional scars and the pain of my past just a little longer, if it gives those people the time they need to know and accept God's love. I can wait a little longer to hold Bryan in my arms again, if it gives them the opportunity to learn to love Jesus. So maybe my persistent prayer must be: "Come, Lord Jesus. Come into the moments of my life. Give me your strength to endure, your passion to love those around me, your wisdom to lead them to you, and your patience to wait for your return."
About the pictures:
Niagara Falls (August 2007)

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