Awhile back there were murmurs that this eclipse was special. Special in a apocalyptic-Jesus-is-coming-back sort of way. I was going to look into it, but I decided that if He was coming back I’d let Him surprise me.
The Rapture: the experience anticipated by some fundamentalist Christians, of meeting Christ midway in the air upon His return to earth.
I’m a bit jaded when it comes to talk of Jesus returning. It started in 1988 with a book titled, ’88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988′. The title alone sounds like something from the pages of the Enquirer and seriously should have been a big clue that nothing was going to happen.
Edgar C. Whisenant (September 25, 1932 – May 16, 2001), was a former NASA engineer and Bible student who predicted the Rapture would occur in 1988, sometime between Sept. 11 and Sept. 13. He published two books about this, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 and On Borrowed Time.
Sadly, I wasn’t the only one in my evangelical circle to eat this book up. There was a frenzy of talk in my church and everything was gearing up for the return of Jesus. The author believed that God revealed to him when Jesus would return. It was to be during the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah starting September 11, 1988.
Matthew 24:36 King James Version (KJV)
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Why I would believe some schmuck who wrote a book with a cheesy title and not the bible I don’t know. I got caught up in the frenzy.
It was a depressing year for me as I looked around and wondered who would go and who would stay. I was obsessed. Everyone I crossed paths with had me worrying if they would go or not. All I could see were the walking dead. People that would be left behind to face a torment so terrible it made me a little mental just to think about it.
As the week of September 11th neared my anxiety was through the roof. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go which must sound odd coming from a believer, but I was only 25 and there was so much living I still wanted to do. I felt immensly guilty for not warning everyone about the coming apocalypse. If I truly believed this was going to happen, and I did, why wasn’t I out warning the world.
When September arrived the waiting was excruciating. September 11th came and I watched and waited for the moment to happen. When Rosh Hashanah was over I still waited. What if the revelation was off by a month, two months, three? What if it was Rosh Hashanah 1989? 1990? 1991, etc?
Every year for years I would become anxious around Rosh Hashanah. Then it was Y2K and another prophecy that Jesus was coming. When Obama became president there was talk that he was the anti-Christ and his rule would see the end of the world. The next big event was in 2012 with the end of the Mayan calendar. I watched and waited. Then there was the 2016 election and when Trump was elected I again felt that old worry flare up. Maybe Jesus comes, maybe He doesn’t.
So, here I am on the day of the great eclipse. Michael, the man I love and live with, picked up a couple of sheets of welders glass to safely view the eclipse. We sit on the deck out back with our protective eyewear and a drink. He’s drinking Keith’s Pale Ale and I’m drinking Jose Cuervo’s Classic Margarita in a glass rimmed with salt. Before the eclipse is fully underway Michael suggests we watch it naked.
“Why?” I ask.
“Why not? It’s not every day you can watch an eclipse naked”
We strip down and sit in the heat of a sunny day and enjoy the moment.
But in the back of my mind I’m wondering if this is it. I joke with Michael about the possibility that the rapture might happen.
“When this is over, if I suddenly disappear I just want you to know what happened.” I giggle.
I giggle partly because I think it’s ridiculous and partly because I’m anxious. He knows what I’m talking about and grins, saying nothing.
“Now, if the rapture happens and I’m still here, then I seriously over-estimated my relationship with God. I don’t want you to think I’m being cocky.”
We watch the eclipse together sipping our drinks, in our birthday suits, in total awe of this spectacular moment. I tell Michael that I wouldn’t have watched the eclipse if not for him. He smiles. We sit there for a while watching the moon pass the sun.
“I’m still here! I have to check the news!”
Michael just shakes his head as I pull up the news on the internet and I realize that I was not left behind. Another false alarm.
I have to wonder why Jesus would pick this particular time to return. In a world more Godless than ever doesn’t He want His ambassadors spreading the good news? Isn’t this the ideal time for us to be here? Shouldn’t we want to be here?
We are so focussed on Jesus returning that we forget to live in the moment and touch the lives around us. There is so much we can do to show the world why we believe.
Matthew 25:35-36 New International Version (NIV)
35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
This is what Jesus wants the world to see. His love in us. Taking care of the needy, loving our neighbour as ourselves. Maybe, God is waiting for us to step up to the plate, so when He sends His Son it will be to find His people worthy of the Rapture.