I blame my youth.
And that we had no gas appliances growing up.
I had no idea we were in danger.
Because I didn’t know the signs.
A quiet neighborhood in Silver Spring, tucked away in old growth trees, backing up to Rock Creek Park.
Older homes, full of character. And tiny, narrow streets to match.
It was the early 90’s and I was in my early 20’s, housesitting for a lovely lady in the neighborhood.
She had a very old gas stove in her house.
And I had a friend come over for dinner.
After dinner we left for some reason – I don’t recall why – but when we came back, the house reeked of gas. So we called the gas company.
They said they would send someone right away.
So my friend and I hung out on the screened-in porch just off the kitchen.
No idea of the danger.
Or the response that was coming.
Because we didn’t know the signs.
And then we heard it.
Off in the distance, a faint wail.
Sirens. Getting closer.
I looked at my friend, laughing in disbelief, and said, “No…Are they coming here? No…”
She said, “No… Really? No….”
We were still in denial as multiple trucks pulled into the long, narrow dead-end street.
And wailed to a stop at the bottom of the driveway.
The fireman fussed at us for being in the house.
And rightly so.
Because, while the stove appeared to be off, it wasn’t.
A knob had malfunctioned and was allowing gas to pump into the house.
We didn’t know the signs.
We were blissfully ignorant of how close we were to going “Boom!”
And taking half the neighborhood with us.
Fortunately, it all ended well.
They cut off the gas.
And I didn’t use the stove again while I was housesitting.
Thankfully the home owner handled it with grace.
Although I am certain the peering neighbors may still be talking about this misadventure.
But it was all because we didn’t know.
We didn’t understand what we were seeing.
What we were experiencing.
So we were not prepared.
It reminds me of things that Jesus told His followers towards to the end of his earthly life.
He very clearly told them that he would leave them – but that He also would come back again one day.
He explained that there would be signs of his return and that they should always be watching, always be ready, always be looking for Him to come again.
And he warned them that there would be many who would not be ready.
I don’t know when He is coming.
In fact, Jesus said that only the Father knows the day and the hour of His return.
So I am not saying it will be today.
Or a week from Thursday.
It may be.
Or He may tarry for another 1,000 years.
But I am saying that there are signs.
He is trying, desperately, to get our attention.
He is begging us to look to Him instead of our own strength, our own wisdom, our own understanding.
Because He controls the weather.
He is still the Lord of the wind and waves.
He is master over the earthquakes.
As well as all the other natural disasters.
And, while they are a result of living in a fallen, sinful world, He is still Sovereign over them.
You may not believe that.
You may choose to say instead that we have caused these things, that we have impacted the earth so much that they are inevitable.
But He is the one who said they would be signs of His return in Matthew 24 and Luke 21.
And, even if you discount those signs, look to Paul’s words in his last letter to Timothy:
“But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith].”
I have rarely read a more fitting description of our culture today.
What are you thinking?
“Oh, Kathy, people have been saying this for two thousand years!”
Yes, they have. And with every heartbeat, we are that much closer to His return. Are you ready?
“Oh, Kathy, don’t be a fear-monger! For all the bad there’s a ton of good going on as well.”
Yes, there is. And I am not afraid of His return. I look forward to the day, not because I am wonderful but because I have been saved by grace through faith. Are you ready?
“Oh, Kathy, the Bible is an outdated piece of literature! He didn’t mean that literally. It’s figurative at best!”
But what if it’s not? What if Jesus literally lived 2000 years ago? What if He literally died to take your place on Calvary? What if He literally rose again? And what if He is literally coming again to judge the earth and all of its inhabitants? Are you ready?
I can’t prove to you that He is coming back any more than I can prove to you that He exists.
But He can.
And He will.
And regardless of what you believe about the signs or His return, I know this to be 100% true:
One day I will see Him face to face.
And so will you.
It may be because He has returned.
Or it may be because our bodies give out, our hearts stop beating, our brains stop firing.
So whether or not He returns in my lifetime or yours, we will see Him.
We will give an account.
It is 100% inevitable.
Are you ready to meet Him face to face?
Because death is inevitable.
And it may be far sooner than His return.
So I – we – have to live today like it is our last.
Because we don’t know.
My lack of knowledge about gas stoves did not change the fact that my friend and I were in extreme danger. We just didn’t recognize it.
But God has clearly said that He is real.
And that we need to acknowledge Him as Lord.
And then accept the salvation He offers.
When I see Him face to face – whether that is through death or the day He returns – there will be no scales to weigh the good and bad of my life.
Because my very best good is done with mixed motives. And it is nowhere near the perfection of Who He is. I have fallen far short of the standard of complete perfection. I cannot achieve heaven on my merit. But I can say to Him, “I don’t deserve to be here with You. But I accepted the gift of grace that You offered. I took Jesus up on His willingness to die in my place. I’m with Him.”
And He will say, “Enter.”
Are you ready for His return?
Or your own demise?
If you knew today was your last day on earth, how would you live?
What would you change?
Are you ready?
Because you are facing the inevitable.
Whether you know the signs or not.
Whether you believe it or not.
Are you ready?
If the answer is “no”, let’s talk.
You can know for sure that you are. You can have peace with God.
No matter what is happening in this world. No matter the signs.
You can know for sure that you’re ready.