Here Comes the Reign!
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.” –Acts 1:11
As I write this, I am waiting for the rain to pass so I can return to what I was formerly doing…mowing the lawn. Of my list of things to complete today, mowing the yard is at the top. The grass is in desperate need of a length adjustment and I knew my time could be, might be, hampered by the forecast of rain. As I mowed, the clouds built and I found myself keeping one eye on the lawn and the other on the sky. The thought crossed my mind that, perhaps, it was silly to even begin something that I might not be able to finish. But, while it looked like the rain was imminent, it wasn’t here yet, so I figured I might as well work until it did arrive. As the appearance of rain seemed more and more likely, I found myself mentally dividing the lawn up into sections in accordance to need; some parts would be easier to mow later if the rain did come where as some parts would become more difficult. I went after the thickest grass first, hoping to get those parts finished…just in case.
As I continued with my mowing madness, and mentally singing songs from last week’s VBS (Vacation Bible School), I began to see a similarity between the last day’s lesson and my current approach to yard work. On Friday, we were reminded to keep watching for Christ’s return; we went over John’s vision of Heaven as recorded in Revelation and were encouraged to live in light of Jesus’ second coming. As I reflected on my current approach to lawn mowing, God reminded me that I needed to apply this same attitude to my daily living. How quickly I dove into the task of yard work when I thought my time was limited. Shouldn’t I have this same outlook with my desire to witness? Shouldn’t I “be about my Father’s business’’ knowing that His return could be at any moment? I looked to the sky wondering when the rain would come; isn’t there another reign that is even more imminent and important? I started to see the parallels between the two, and I was saddened to learn that I am far more purpose-driven in my approach to yard work than I am in my attitude toward kingdom work.
For centuries, believers have been waiting for Christ’s return. We have Jesus’ words telling us that He has gone to prepare a place for us and that, one day…in the twinkling of an eye…He will return (I Cor. 15:52). No sooner than Jesus had left this earth, we hear the disciples proclaiming His impending return. Peter preached of it, John persevered for it, and Paul pined for it. Today, almost 2,000 years later, we are still waiting for the forecasted “reign”. We do not know when Christ will return but we do know He is coming and, when He does, it will be unexpectedly. Therefore, we are always to be ready; we are to keep one eye on the sky while still keeping both hands on the plow. As time has passed, there has been a tendency, just as there was in the early church, to think we have more time than we truly do. The more appropriate, and accurate, view we should have is that with the passing of time we now have less time in which to prepare for the “reign”. Shouldn’t we be even more diligent in our duty to share the gospel with others? Shouldn’t we, shouldn’t I, be looking around and dividing my field of ministry into sections based upon need so that I can be certain to reach all the areas entrusted to my care? There is the section of family, those who are literally the closest to me. Then, there are my neighbors and my colleagues. Another section would be those who have not heard God’s word, those in remote areas around the world…or around the corner. When Jesus gave His final marching orders to the disciples, He spoke these words, “And you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” (Acts 1:8b). The same mandate Jesus gave to His disciples He has also given to us. This directive was passed on through Paul to Timothy as he was instructed to build up faithful followers who would “teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). And so, today, we are given the same assignment.
As I stated earlier, I have come inside to await the passing of the rain. The funny thing is how God stopped my mowing and seared this lesson in one fell swoop. Since I was determined to mow until I knew the threat of rain was real, I didn’t stop when I felt the first drop. I kept going because one drop does not a shower make. One drop led to two drops; two drops quickly became twenty drops, and by the time I realized it was really going to rain, I had no time to make it any further than to the edge of the yard and to park under some trees. It didn’t just rain, it poured; the sky bottomed out and there was nowhere to go that the rain couldn’t reach. How fitting! I had thought the rain would occur gradually, giving me plenty of time to go park the mower. My presumption crashed into God’s providence, and the episode left me ditched, drenched, and dumbfounded. I couldn’t help but laugh as God illustrated the lesson He had presently brought to my mind! How ironic it was that I should think I had more time than I actually did; to think that I could keep at it until I saw the evidence of rain and then, and only then, move out of harm’s way and seek shelter. Doesn’t God’s word tell us that His return will be as quick as lightening? (Matt. 24:27) Just as suddenly as this rain began, so too will His reign begin. It will be quick and powerful; shelter will be in Him alone, there will be no other hiding place. And making a run for it? Well, that will not be an option! Forget the “I’ll get ready when the first drop falls.” That mode of thinking will be futile and foolish.
I thought the lawn was the only thing that needed an adjustment today. God determined that I too needed an adjustment. He used the onset of a rain shower to remind me that I needed to look to the skies to gauge more than just the amount of time I might have to mow; I also needed to make the most of the time I had to sow. I have learned that I operate under a ‘more to less’ ratio; I accomplish more work when I realize I have less time. While this can be an effective task management tool, it should be an even greater witnessing tool. As I await Christ’s return, each passing day draws me closer to that event; my time is ebbing so my telling should be flowing. The reign is coming, will you too prepare for it?