I was a regular activity every summer evening: attending evangelistic tent meetings with slides that depicted biblical themes. Most memorable—due to the nightmares they literally gave me—were the slides of the beasts of Daniel 7.
But what excited me the most were the slides depicting the Second Coming. Christ’s return seemed so real, so imminent. I asked myself, “Am I ready to meet Jesus when He comes?”
Many years have elapsed, and life has pushed other thoughts to the forefront more than I care to admit. Why? What happened? Three things in particular have transpired, personally. First, the “cares of this life” (Luke 21:34, KJV) have consumed my time and attention more than I ever thought they would. Even though many of these things are noble pursuits, the most insidious are: children’s school extracurricular activities, Pathfinder meetings, and church work.
Second, I hear fewer sermons preached that focus on the Second Coming. It seems that there is a greater focus on the “now,” whereas many preachers talked more extensively about the blessed hope, the “not yet,” in years past. There often appears to be an emphasis on how God heals us when we are sick and pays our bills when we are broke— that God’s ultimate role is to come to our rescue when we are in trouble.
Third, there has been a shift in music themes. While many churches still sing hymns and other churches incorporate a variety of musical genres, in many cases there has been a moving away from the songs that herald the Second Coming. I love the songs that pointed me toward a glorious future, such as “It May Be at Morn,” “Lift Up the Trumpet,” and “Lo, He Comes.” I still chuckle when I think back to my favorite eight-track cassette of music that I owned in the mid-1970s: This Is Another Day, a collection of songs written by the gospel musician, Andraé Crouch. Two of the nine songs on that cassette spoke of the imminent return of Christ (“We Expect You,” and “Soon and Very Soon”).
What needs to happen?
I confess that I spend more time reading newspapers, listening to news radio channels, and watching sporting events than I should. There’s nothing wrong with that; but I have to keep things in perspective. Today’s events quickly become tomorrow’s history—as evidenced by the volume of newspapers I discard in the recycling bin after holding on to them for only a few days. But the Word of God endures forever.
So, what do I want to see happen, both for me and the church I love? First, I have intentionally increased my efforts to spend more time in prayer and Bible study. I do so by listening to less classical music on the radio en route to work and devote that time to prayer (multitasking in a positive fashion) as well as watching less television in the evening and spending more time with the Scriptures. It refreshes me to spend time contemplating the blessed hope, the return of Jesus for His chosen ones. It thrills me to wrap my imagination around knowing that one day I’ll walk on streets of gold. It excites me that one day I’ll see my grandparents after Christ resurrects them.
Second, I vow to preach more on the Second Coming. I remember hearing a sermon that Calvin B. Rock, at that time the president of Oakwood College (now Oakwood University), preached in Dallas, Texas, in 1980, just prior to the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists’ session. I vividly remember how, in his conclusion, he vowed that he was going to preach more on the Second Coming, for it was, he articulated, the solution to all the ailments of humanity.
Third, I want to see a greater emphasis on Christ’s soon return in our church music. I think back to yet another gospel music classic written by Andraé Crouch: “Soon and very soon we are going to see the King . . . hallelujah, hallelujah! We’re going to see the King,” and I recall how such songs filled my heart with hope for something bigger than what this world could offer.
The ultimate solution
The only true answer to the issues of life is the blessed hope, for this hope lifts us above the temporal and fixes our gaze upon the eternal. In this life we move from one challenge, one frustration, to another. But God offers us an eternity with no pain, death, sorrow, or crying (Rev. 21:4).
So let’s dream about it, talk about it, and prepare for it!