by Marilyn Ehle
“Stay alert. You have no idea when He might arrive.”
Matthew 25:13 (The Message)
A friend who fills her days with teaching music to children, serving in her church and in the community visited her doctor at a friend’s urging. She had been experiencing shortness of breath and the friend was concerned. The doctor gave an unexpected diagnosis requiring immediate hospitalization and major heart surgery. Her response?
“But I haven’t cleaned the drawers yet!”
My friend not only survived but healed faster than expected and returned within a few weeks to her teaching and service. Her daughters willingly cleaned those drawers, and she laughs while telling this story.
While growing up I heard many sermons focused on the return of Jesus. I was always warned to “stay alert,” with the warning that such a state of alertness meant avoiding certain people or places because “would you want Jesus to find you there? – with them?” Instead of encouraging joyful anticipation for His return, I found myself fearful of His coming.
We have all experienced the anticipated arrival of much loved friends. The house has been cleaned and the aroma of a meal fills every corner. We glance out the window to see if they have finally reached our house. We throw open the door with smiles and we share warm hugs. That is being alert for the return of Jesus. None of us knows the day or hour of His return—or the moment we will step into His presence, ushered by death—but He longs for us to joyfully stay alert.
Chris Tomlin beautifully captures what can be our attitude of waiting:
I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by your side.
I can only imagine what my eyes will see when your face is before me
Surrounded by your glory what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you Jesus, or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah or will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine…
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