Today you should read: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
On the 14th of August 2015, Erin woke me up from a dead sleep around 4:30 in the morning. For over 2-weeks the doctor had been telling Erin that her pregnancy wouldn’t last through the next couple days. With eager anticipation we had been expecting Josie to come into the world, but she had (and still has) a mind of her own.
Although her water still had not broken, Erin woke me in the wee hours of the morning because she was experiencing big-time contractions. We knew the 511 rule—go to the hospital when contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for 1 hour. Thus, when she told me that she had been having one-minute long contractions every 5-minutes for about 20-minutes and that she was going to shower, I said, “Great, wake me up if they keep going for the hour.”
Erin went into the bathroom and I rolled over, closed my eyes, and then realized what she’d just told me. In my mind it hit me, “Josie is coming TODAY!” I jumped out of bed like the family in the movie Home Alone. I busted into the bathroom and said, “You’re in labor!” To which Erin replied, “That’s more of the reaction that I expected.”
Throughout Church history, every generation has been preparing, waiting in eager expectation, for the Lord’s return. At the ascension of Jesus, the angels told the disciples that “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11). Jesus’ return will be sudden and unexpected like a “thief in the night,” or the “labor pains of a pregnant woman.”
My initial reaction to Erin telling me she was in labor was a groggy, sleep-induced incomprehension at her words amounting to, “Wake me up when it’s official.” Paul was saying that many people view Christ’s return in the same way. They live in darkness where sleep and sin prevent the proclamation of the Lord’s return from sinking in. Instead, Paul urges believers to “keep awake and be sober.” My reaction to my wife, although understandable, was foolish. How much more foolish are those who will be caught “sleeping” when the Lord returns?
The return of the Lord is our hope. So, how does Paul say we should respond? He wrote, “Encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” This hope should encourage you, but it should also be used to encourage others. We are in a time where “peace and security” have been shaken for many people. Their sleep has been disrupted, but they are not awake. As humanity does, many people have adapted, finding peace and security in different things than before. People are rolling over and going back to sleep. Yet, peace and security found in anything other than the Lord will lead to destruction.
Church, we are living through a tough time. However, it should serve as a reminder that this world is not our home. The Lord will return. That is our hope, but it also shapes how we live every moment of every day. While we wait, let us find ways to encourage others. Let us build one another up. We need each other, now as much as ever.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
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