Sunday, December 23, 2012

Maranatha



When I was younger, I had a secret prayer that went something like this:

“Jesus, I am excited about Your return, I really am…but…if You don’t mind…please don’t come back until after I get married…”

If you are a woman and you are reading this, don’t even pretend like you didn’t have that same desire. We were young. And sheltered. And na├»ve. And in love.

And then my wish came true, and my prayer morphed just a little into, “…and if You don’t mind, I’d really like to have a baby as well…and then You are more than welcome to come back…”

And Jesus tarried once again and I got my desire, a sweet baby girl, soon to be followed by her beautiful baby sister.

And then my prayer changed again. Because I suddenly realized something my younger self did not.

Last week 26 souls in Newtown, Connecticut were violently cut off in a schoolhouse, of all places. When I heard the news, my heart crumbled. And my very first, instinctive reaction was to whisper, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

The fact that I had been missing in my younger, wistful days is that this world is no longer fitting for me or for you or for anyone. Because this world is ruled by a prince who has not come that we have life, but who has come to steal, kill, and destroy. A thief. Satan. This is his realm. And the irony for me is that the very reasons I prayed for Jesus to tarry, are the same reasons I now wish for Him to make haste and come back.

I have been given two precious souls to care for, to teach, to shepherd, to love. And along with the indescribable joy comes also a deeper awareness of the potential for evil in our world. 

Children and teachers are gunned down in the school…women and children are sold into the sex slave trade…untold numbers of babies are murdered before they are even given a chance to live…

Creation groans under the weight of the curse it was not meant to bear.

Rape…genocide…holocausts…abuse…

This is not our home.

Over two thousand years ago, on a not-so-silent night, to a frightened girl, in a bloody mess, the King of Kings entered the creation that He had set into motion and sustained since its birth. He humbled Himself to be born as a helpless, vulnerable baby in the hostile territory of His mortal enemy. He left the majesty of His heaven and clothed Himself with weak, lowly flesh. He identified with every broken soul so that He might eventually break the chains that weighed us down and kept us in Satan’s dominion. He would grow up and die so that we might live. It was a broken world when He came, but He delivered light and life and hope. He crushed Satan on the head when He came, when He lived, when He died, and when He rose again. One.blow.after.another.

And it’s not over yet.

Come, Lord Jesus. Come and deliver the final blow that will end the evil that never belonged in Your beautiful creation.

Come. Come and end the suffering that should not be so. For the same reason that You wept at Lazarus’ tomb – for the fact that death was not supposed to exist, and the suffering it causes was not Your plan – come and make it stop.

Come. Come and show Yourself as the victorious Warrior, the King to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Come and avenge the innocent souls that are slaughtered. Come and take away our fear of the future. Come and bring us home. Until then, we will live in hope and delight in the blessings that You give, and we will bear witness to the good news of great joy that You brought at Your first advent. But as I see the evil mounting up around me, and realize the depth of creation’s groaning, and as I prepare my girls to live in the strength of Your might, my prayer these days more closely resembles that of the early Christians, who greeted one another with “Maranatha – Come, oh Lord.”

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes. I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.