What If It Happened Tonight? - A Brief Study on the Imminent Return of Christ
People live their lives in patterns set learned early on in their childhood. As they get older they modify those patterns and begin to form the habits and behaviors that are uniquely them. The older the person is, the deeper ingrained is the life they lead. Years of trial and error have trained them so that they know, for them, the things they do are best for them. Lives are rarely changed radically. It takes a pressurized event to even make a dent in our life patterns. Almost never does a dream make one aware that changes need to be made. The following story is based on a dream that I had that awakened truths of which I was aware but had ignored. The dream was so real that I took the matter to God and made promise to be a different man from now on.
It happened one night, after I pillowed my head
I pondered on why, all my joy was dead,
Why my service to God, seemed so blase'
Why the urgency it seemed, had all drained away,
It seemed to me, that nothing was real
So I spoke to God, about the way I feel,
When last I did fall asleep, God gave me a dream
It's image more vivid, than life it seemed,
I opened my eyes, and I was in a room
A hollowness there, much like a tomb,
Then voices I heard, ones that I knew,
Then faces I saw, at first just a few,
Then more people, appeared one at a time
Friends I'd known, acquaintances of mine,
I tried to say "Hi," but they couldn't see me
There was Tom, Sam, and ex-girlfriend Arlene,
Sweet people they were, and I knew them all
They couldn't hear me, I listened to them talk,
They spoke of things, simple and trite,
Of shoe sizes, food colors, and somebody's height,
I remember thinking, "What simple folk!"
As they laughed, shook hands, cracked a few jokes,
"Nice to see you Sam", Tom said with a smile
"Likewise", said Sam, "haven't seen you a while"
Then, somehow I began, to hear their thoughts
The first was like the sound, of a baseball when caught
Tom thought, "If I had a chance, I'd steal your wife
And have hot sex with her, for the rest of my life!"
Thought Sam, "Tom, you always hog all the glory
If you just choke and die, I could rewrite our story!"
They continued to smile, as they thought these thoughts
Hypocritical, mean, I knew they were lost -
They were really needing Jesus, I was seeing that now
I was meaning to tell them, just didn't know how,
I listened embarrassed, stared at the floor
Then something odd happened, I couldn't ignore,
A shaking I felt, under my feet
I thought it was just me, so I quick took a seat,
Uncertain now, I kept looking down
And wondered why no one else, was feeling the ground,
They just kept talking their words, that were really so small,
And didn't seem to be bothered, with anything at all,
But now added to the tremble, a grinding sound
It started off tiny, but began to get loud -
I got to my feet and yelled, "Don't you care
'Bout how your lives are in danger, and how you will fare?"
But they just smiled and chatted, thinking their thoughts
Believing those things, they've always been taught,
Suddenly a crack appeared, and then a hole,
Two of my friends fell, I counted the toll
I knew it was hell, before I smelled the smoke
That got in my eyes, and caused me to choke,
"Get back!" I cried, why didn't they see?
They were still all chatting, with light gaiety!
Completely unaware - until they fell in
I still hear their screams, I felt it my sin,
Why didn't I tell them, before it was too late
So they wouldn't have had, to come to this fate?
The hole was widening, approaching Arlene
I ran to her side, to help, intervene,
I caught her hand, as she began to fall
Something pulled at her heels, I heard her call -
My name. And cried, "Save me please!"
I held on real tight, down on my knees
I felt something hold me, so I didn't fall in,
But I couldn't save Arlene, because of her sin,
Saw fear in her eyes, as she fell from my sight
...then I woke up and cried, for the rest of the night.
"What a nightmare!" I said, "It all seemed so real,"
It was a little while longer, before I started to feel
...normal again. And then, a sudden RING!!!
It was as if I had suffered, a bumblebee sting
I picked up the phone, I had no choice
The receiver was talking, a familiar voice,
"Hi, this is Arlene. I've just come to town
Do you have a moment to talk, or to just sit down?
Last night I had, the strangest dream
That you brought me a cone, of delicious ice cream,
And then you said, you had something to say
That would change my life, in a wonderful way -
So what about it, is any of it true?
At first I said, "Huh?" then "Yes, yes I do.
Can we meet later, our old meeting spot?
I'll buy you an ice cream, the weather is hot."
So you want to know, why I behave this way
Why I'm frantic, emphatic, never going away,
Because God let me see, deep in his Word
And I know that hell, is far worse than you've heard,
Oh yeah, a year later, I made Arlene my bride
We win souls together, side by side,
I looked around, at my student's faces
In the eyes of each, I saw small little traces -
Of understanding. And in my heart I knew
That I had reached the hearts, of only a few.
Some eager voices said, "Tell us more."
So I showed 'em all, salvation's door.
This dream really happened (all except the Arlene part). I had a dream and most of the things I felt afterward are in this story about a spiritual realization and awakening. I think that God has done something to me as I've gotten older. It often happens as we get older that we really begin to take seriously the fact that our lives won't last forever. My mid-life crisis did not come in the form of a race car I couldn't afford or having an affair behind my wife's back. No, my mid-life crisis was my realization that I wanted my life to mean something when I presented it to God. I realized just how much of my life I wasted on trivial things, on being too scared, too ignorant.
God, I believe, let me see myself and how I act around people. Anyone that really knows me, knows I have been given the ability to really care for people, they easily own a piece of my heart. I tell all my friendly acquaintances that I love them, and I do. I tell my close friends how very dear they are to me, and I mean it. I tell my inner circle people that my eternity has begun already and they are with me now and always. I tell my wife that we are "one." I tell her that each moment of each day with her is a gift and that I am not happy until I can get her to smile and laugh at least once a day.
I am no longer young and I realize now that my impact on those around me is limited by time and opportunity. Once I am in heaven, I can't reach back down and continue my witness to the unsaved for which I am truly burdened. So many people have touched my life over the years and I care for them deeply. Each had their reason for rejecting the gospel when offered. I have told them about Jesus coming to earth and how everyone must come to Him before it is too late. Some listened and turned to Him, others dismissed me as well-intentioned and some as a religious fanatic. Some quietly put up with me because they knew how I genuinely felt about them, others barely tolerated me and let me say what I felt I had to say and still others became angry. The more those people hated and tried to hurt me, the more God let me love and pray for them. For the time I have left to me to affect them, I have purposed to pray for each of them as I am moved by the Spirit.
The clock ticks by on all of us and each second is at a premium. I will not waste any more time as I have in the past. I have a circle of influence granted by God. I have a platform from which to reach out to the world and I plan to use it as long as the Lord allows.
So I say Dear Reader, as a fellow human being and citizen of this planet I say that God has given me a command to love you with my all my heart. He has told me to share what is inside of me. So this I do.
Once upon a time I was lost and did not know God. I nearly committed suicide and needed to be rescued. Then I learned that Jesus offered to me (and to everyone) a chance to have a "peace that passes understanding and a joy unspeakable and full of glory." I was desperate and I would have done anything to escape the pain that filled my life. I learned that I didn't have to do anything to receive this gift. All the work was already done over 2,000 years ago on Calvary's cross. "It is finished," He said. A Man hung on a cross to pay for crimes that He did not commit. I learned that this Man was all man but at the same time He was born of very strange circumstances. He had no human father. His Father was God. Somehow God had come to earth clothed in human flesh for one reason - to die for me and every other "me" in the world.
I remember resisting when I felt Jesus pull at me. I tried to ignore it and say it was too simple. I tried to tell God that there must be more to it. I argued and fought and God stood His ground. He let me exhaust myself beating against Him until I cried "uncle!" I bowed my head and invited Him into my heart. I turned my life from living my way and began to do things differently because God began to work with me.
What about you, dear reader? Do you know for sure if you died today you will be with Jesus? Do you remember a time when you understood your own soul and how there is sin inside you? If you did, you know the conviction of your heart and at that time Jesus was knocking at your life's door. Did you argue? or did you let Him in? If you let Him in you know the joy I know and have already begun to love and care for others in new and different ways. If you argued and pushed God away, it is not too late. You can still come to God and invite Him into your life to save you. Just look inside and see what you believe. Do you believe that Jesus is God the Son, God in human flesh who came to earth on a mission to save sinners? Do you see your sin and how it separates you from a holy God? Do you believe that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again to save you? Well then, you are one step away from knowing the peace that every child of God knows. All that's left is to cry out to Him out of a sincere heart, throwing yourself on Him, trusting Him with your eternal soul. Pray this:
Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner and that my sin will keep me out of heaven. I need a Savior to rescue my life from hell. I believe You died for me and I ask you to cover my sins with the blood of the covenant you shed for me. Please forgive me of my sins and save me. I ask that you make me your child. I believe that you died, were buried and rose again from the dead. I turn from my sin and throw myself into Your arms knowing You will catch me and hold me forever. I thank You for saving me. I pray this in your holy name, Jesus. Amen.
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