“Is today the birthday and camping yet?” my three-year-old asks me this morning for probably the three hundredth time.
“Nope,” I tell her, “your sister’s birthday and camping trip is not happening for another two months.”
“Is it time for the water park?”
“Nope, that one’s not happening for months either.”
“Are we going to visit our friends at Bible study?”
“Nope, not for a few days.”
“Ok, so after naps?”
"Nope, lots and lots of sleep times, and then we will get to do all of those things.”
“I’m just so excited, mama! How about we go to naps, and then when we wake up, we will go to camping and to the water park?!” She exclaims this as though it is the best idea she has ever invented. Even though it was the same idea she had yesterday.
“Nope, those things are not coming for a long time yet. But they will be here before you know it! One day you will wake up and they will be here. But right now is not the time.”
“Ok, I will just go and put on my swimsuit!” she exclaims. “I just need to get a tent and my sleeping bag first, though.”
I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to outline several months worth of our exciting plans for our three-year-old a few weeks ago. I know that she has no concept of time and as such expects everything I tell her to happen instantly. This leads to relentless questioning and never-ending excitement. Every time. I know better than to tell her things in advance because keeping up with her questioning and excitement is exhausting. No matter how many times I explain time to her, show her clocks and calendars, she just doesn’t fully comprehend how long she needs to wait. Of course I know that we have several months to go before we get to go camping or to a water park, but she has no concept of what “months” means. She has no concept of adult scheduling at all. As far as she knows, any single moment in time could be the one that we pick up and go camping. And she lives in that constant expectation of fun and excitement.
Maybe that’s why I choose to forego my sanity and tell her about our future plans sometimes. Her excitement may be exhausting, but at the same time, it’s a bit infectious. Since she reminds me about camping and the water park just about every day, I really can’t wait to go either, if only because then maybe she will stop talking about it. ;)
After Jesus ascended into heaven, his believers remembered he had promised his followers he would return some day.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)
Unaware of God’s timing and scheduling, however, early Christians more or less behaved like my three-year-old. As soon as Jesus ascended into heaven, they hung around staring at the sky, waiting for Jesus’ return, as though it was going to happen any second.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1: 10-11)
Something I notice about my daughter: when I tell her something is going to happen someday, for a long time she is passionate in her excitement and enthusiasm for its potential to occur at any moment. Over time, however, her enthusiasm dwindles. She asks questions less frequently. And then one day, when she least expects it and has all but forgotten about it, I get the pleasure of waking her up and whispering, “Today’s the day! We’re going camping today!”
I think many of us as Christians are a bit like children when it comes to our expectations about judgment day. We go through phases. At times, we are excited for Jesus’ coming and focus on preparing our hearts and minds for it to occur at any moment. Over time, however, we get wrapped up in our busy lives and often push Jesus and his return to the back of our minds. Sure, it can happen at any moment. We know that. But very few of us expect it to happen in the next second, hour, or even today. We’ve grown tired of expecting and anticipating and have settled into complacency.
As I watch my daughter entering her fourth week of never-ending enthusiasm for our upcoming vacations, I pray that I might keep up the same child-like enthusiasm for Christ’s return. I may not know the day or the hour, but God does. Any moment could be the one he “wakes us up” and says “Today’s the day you’re coming home!”
How often do you think and pray about Judgment Day?