are not afraid of sparks.”
— Danish Proverb
Years ago, I heard a preacher tell a joke that has stuck with me through the years. It went something like this:
During a devastating flood, a man sat on the roof of his two-story house and prayed, “Lord, I trust you and I know that you can save me. So I will sit here and wait for you to come.”
The water rose higher and covered all the windows of the house. Its owner saw his neighbor in a rowboat coming toward him. “Henry,” the neighbor cried out, “climb down into my boat and we will row to safety!”
“Thank you, Fred,” the man replied. “But I have faith that God will save me!”
As the storm lashed him with torrents of rain and the water rose even higher, the man watched cars and uprooted trees rush past, caught up in the raging water, and he prayed, “God I know that you are more powerful than this storm. I know that you can save me!”
He spied an emergency rescue boat racing toward him. When the crew pulled up near the man, a first responder dressed in rain gear reached out to him and shouted, “Take my hand, and we will get you to safety!”
“It’s okay,” the man hollered back.” I have no doubt that God will save me!” He waved them away and hung on for his life.
The water was under his chin when the man heard a helicopter approaching. It hovered directly over him and a paramedic was lowered down on a rope. “Sir,” he cried out, “I’ve come to rescue you. Let me help you slip this harness on.”
But the man refused. “I’m still clinging to hope that God is going to save me.” After much persuasion, the paramedic signaled to the helicopter crew. They hoisted him up and left to search for other victims.
At last the man’s arms grew so weak that he had to let go. He fell into the brutally churning waters and drowned.
In heaven, the man stood before the pearly gates, and St. Peter welcomed him, saying, “That was quite a storm!”
The man nodded and said, “But I don’t understand. In the Bible, God promised to save me if I would just trust Him!”
St. Peter cocked his head and replied, “Well, He sent you a rowboat, a rescue crew, and paramedic in a helicopter! What more did you expect?”
Like the caring souls who tried their best to rescue the man on the roof, I find myself feeling concerned about those trusting individuals who have bought into the pre-tribulation rapture theory, as I did early on in my study of Bible prophecy. I understand that it’s comforting for sincere followers of Christ to cling to the flawed teaching that no matter how bad things get in their personal life or in the world around them, God is certain to save them from the dreaded “Tribulation” via “the rapture.”
It’s quite tempting to presume that rescue from any and every bad thing in life could happen at any moment when the rapture takes place, lifting true believers into the clouds.
But when I set aside what I’d been taught and researched the mystery for myself, I discovered that those teachings contradict what Jesus — referring to the prophet Daniel — foretold. At first, going against the pastoral flow seemed intimidating. But I kept reading and comparing verses, and in the process I have accepted and survived the difficult reality of something else that Jesus promised: “In this world you will have trouble. BUT, take heart [because] I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
“For He has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
He has not hidden His face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.”
A RUST REMOVER …
It’s tempting to follow along with trends that help us feel unconquerable and encouraged. But Jesus knew that courage is more resilient than comfort. More often than not, He led His disciples through trouble rather than around it. And He was only interested in pleasing the One who sent Him to perform a very unpleasant task. Jesus knew He was destined for the cross, and under great duress He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)