The other day, my two-year-old daughter was standing in the kitchen, randomly saying, “Jesus was born, Jesus was born!” So I said, “Jesus died. He rose again, He went to Heaven, and – guess what? He’s coming back to see us!”
As soon as the phrase, “He’s coming back to see us” left my mouth, I winced, reflexively thinking, “I shouldn’t tell her that. She might actually expect Him to come visit sometime soon.”
My knee-jerk reaction kind of embarrassed me. Christians have believed in Jesus’ impending return for over 2000 years. But there I was, a professing Christian, worried about my daughter thinking He could arrive at any time.
Standing there contemplating all this, I realized that although I believe Jesus is coming back, I’ve pushed it so far into the future that it almost has no impact on me. And then I remembered a time when it wasn’t that way.
I was nine years old, and our pastor was doing a series on Jesus’ impending return. I was beside myself with excitement. In fact, I remember thinking it would be a good idea to dress in a white sheet (not sure why), climb a tree, and wait for Him to come sweep me away.
One afternoon around that time, I was at home in my family’s apartment, and I let my imagination – and my vocal chords – run wild with excitement over the idea of Jesus coming back. Using a microphone my parents owned, I started belting out the rapture-ready song “We Shall See the King When He Comes” at the top of my lungs.
Although my dad typically encouraged singing, it got so out-of-control that he burst into the apartment and hollered at me to get quiet (if he hadn’t have done it, I’m sure the police would have).
But the most important thing about my childhood enthusiasm for Jesus’ impending return was how it impacted the way I thought about my nine-year-old life. I figured, if Jesus could show up at any moment, I wanted Him to be pleased with the way I was living when He arrived.
Yet here I was, 24 years later, emotionally disconnected from the idea that Jesus’ return might be around the corner – and worse, I was afraid of teaching my little girl the same thing that got my nine-year-old heart all fired up.
There in the kitchen, a short conversation with my little girl forced me to decide whether I believed – not just that Jesus was coming back – but that Jesus might be coming for a visit in the next couple of weeks.
An unbelieving part of me tried to urge caution – it was the part of me that doesn’t want to be looked down upon by non-Christians, the part of me that is embarrassed by the poorly-made “Left Behind” movies and all the gullible people who, in 2011, sold everything because some quack on the radio told them Jesus was coming on May 21. But a nine-year-old boy inside was singing “We Shall See the King” so loudly that he drowned out these fears and actually got me a little excited about the prospect of seeing Jesus sometime soon.
“Jesus was born!” my daughter said.
“Yep, He sure was,” I said. “And remember what I said about Him coming back? He is coming back – He’s coming to see us really soon.”