During an April holiday some years ago, I was house-sitting for Mrs. Brown* (pseudonym for my mother’s employer). Since this was my usual holiday job, I knew the rules around the house. The April holidays in South Africa are very short – just a mini break from school and work. On a Friday evening, a week after Mrs. Brown had left, I picked up a paper that looked like a confirmation of an aeroplane ticket purchase that said she would be coming back on Sunday. I chuckled to myself and threw the paper into a nearby trash can, thinking, “She cannot go to Germany for just a week. That would be a waste of money.”
That Sunday morning, I woke up extra late, around 9 a.m. Just as I had finished eating breakfast, I heard the garage door open and the children screaming. Yes, the ticket had been right, Mrs. Brown was here.
I almost went into cardiac arrest at that moment. The house was dirty, the sink filled with dishes, the patio and veranda filled with papers and cotton from a cushion the puppy had torn. There was puppy poo in the pool area, and that was not all. One thing she had clearly asked me not to do was to have visitors inside the house. But I had a visitor too! At that moment, I knew that I was not ready for her return.
The sad thing is that, while this is a true story, it will be repeated in the near future. The coming of Jesus will be a surprise to those stewards who have forgotten about His coming – whose lives do not testify that there is a coming King. A surprise of a high order awaits those whose houses are not in order and filled with the clutter of this life.
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. (Matthew 24:4 )
It is not a coincidence that Jesus in this passage mentions deception as the first thing to watch out for when the world nears its close. It is the enemy’s much-used device to lull the servants of God into a deep sleep about the coming of Jesus Christ. While it is very true that deception will come from without, it is also worth remembering that it is very easy to deceive ourselves and forget to put the coming of Jesus as a priority in our lives. In my experience, the signs were there – I saw the printed confirmation and I knew that April is never a long holiday, but decided to ignore the signs. Is it not the same with us? We have the knowledge that He is coming soon; He has given us all the clues and even given us the truth of His word as testimony that He is coming back. It would serve us well to pay close attention to all that we have been given and live as though Christ is coming tomorrow.
Peter gives a timely reminder for stewards that may slowly be growing complacent about the Second Advent: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)
Our forefathers in the faith died in hope and left this assurance that, when we begin to forget, we may be strengthened that He will be coming soon indeed:
“There is great need that our weakening faith should be quickened, and that we should ever keep before the mind the evidences that our Lord is soon coming, that we may ever be found not only waiting, but watching and working. We are not to be found in idle expectancy; for this leads to carelessness of life, and deficiency of character. We are to realize that the judgments of God are about to fall upon the earth, and we should most earnestly present before the people the warning that the Lord has commissioned us to give: ‘For then shall be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.’ ” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, The Perils and Privileges of the Last Days, p. 1073.
The Lord Jesus Christ is really coming. Are you living in readiness for His Coming? Don’t be like me. (I’m glad that event was a demo that gave me a serious awakening.) We only get one shot at the Second Coming! Let’s not miss it!