Waiting for the End of Days, Again

Photo by Glampaolo Macorig

Photo by Glampaolo Macorig

Have you heard the one about the pastor who predicted the Rapture and the end of the world?  Which one, you ask?  Yes, despite the unusual amount of media attention this is getting, the predictions for this Saturday are not unprecedented.  Even my beloved John Wesley got it wrong, thinking the antichrist was set to show up in 1836.

I remember the 88 Reasons the Rapture Will Be in 1988.  That false prediction is the traumatic memory for many younger Christians like Jason Boyett and Matthew Paul Turner, both of whom have written eloquently about that event.  But in 1988 I was an adult, a newlywed, and less susceptible to apocalyptic fever.  I’d already been through it.

I have memories of being a little girl in the 1970s and watching movies like Thief in the Night (Mr. Right reports being scarred by that one as well), of hearing the grownups at church discussing The Late Great Planet Earth and seeing prophecy charts hanging in the Sunday school rooms.  The end of days was always just around the corner back then, and it was terrifying.

Of course, I felt guilty for being terrified.  I was supposed to be praying “Come, Lord Jesus,” wasn’t I?  Sometimes I worried that my parents would be raptured and I would be left behind.  I had my childish version of secret sins, and even though I loved Jesus I wasn’t sure I loved him enough to compensate for the bad things I thought and did.  Later, as a teenager, I was more confident of my standing before God, but I prayed that the rapture wouldn’t come before I had a chance to marry and have children.  I knew that heaven was supposed to be more wonderful than all of that, but the descriptions of heaven didn’t connect with anything I knew.  And so to my secret sins, I added the secret guilt of not being anxious to go see God.

Now it’s Harold Camping’s turn to concoct a brew of fear and guilt and religious ecstasy.  His prediction that Christians – well, some of them, anyway – will be raptured out of the world this Saturday, May 21, is delivered with the kind of absolute certainty that renders it instantly credible to some believers.  Camping and his followers repeat his Rube Goldberg version of prophecy over and over, never shaken from their story, unwilling to even consider the possibility that they will be here to see May 22.

A few people believe Camping is right, but most others are having a good laugh.  You know who’s not laughing?  People who’ve lived in the midst of these failed prophecies before.  Read Boyett and Turner’s posts.  They aren’t amused:  they are sad and angry and worried.  They’re worried about what will happen to the people who have staked their lives and livelihoods on this prediction coming true.  And even more, they are worried about the children caught up in this.  It’s concern born of experience, and I share it.  One of Cheesy’s friends – a second grader, mind you – came home from school last week and told her mother that a classmate had said the world was going to end on May 21.  I felt sick to my stomach hearing that.  Children shouldn’t have to carry the weight of such things.

I’m not buying the numerology that Harold Camping is selling for the usual reasons:  Jesus said no one would know the day or the hour, except the Father, and Camping has been wrong before.  Other than that, I may not have changed that much since I was a child.  I still love Jesus and I still worry sometimes about where the future is headed, to be honest.  It’s a crazy world out there.  But I’ve pinned my hopes on a God who is a restorer and not a destroyer, who has not given birth to this entire teeming, beautiful universe for the purpose of eliminating all but a tiny remnant of human beings.  Whether my end of days comes on Saturday (because, hey, anything is possible) or 50 years from now, I won’t spend my energy trying to see it coming.   I’ve been there.  I’ve done that.  I won’t get fooled again.

About Sharon Autenrieth

Wife, mom to 5, homeschooler, Christian Education Director, idealist, malcontent, follower of Jesus.
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10 Responses to Waiting for the End of Days, Again

  1. Yeah I’m with you Sharon. If the end is Saturday, it’s coincedental. Somewhat along the same line of thought, I recently recieved insight that the definition of a prophet is one who speaks God’s word. It just so happened that prophets of old testament times spoke God’s message which included future events. However, a prophet shares God’s message (in their case directly from the Boss) and is NOT a fortune-teller or sooth-sayer. As Sharon points out – these people are not prophets, they seem to like numbers (not the book of) more than God’s word. As for me, I’ve decided to go ahead and make next months electric bill payment. Peace.


  2. kevin b says:

    You know what used to scare me? Movies about nuclear war…The Day After, Testament, Special Bulletin.
    I am not worried about tomorrow. I know where I am going and, as I get older, kind of long for “home” more everyday.
    To know people I love are waiting on the other side of the river for me…I’m good.


    • As I just told Shellymybaby on Facebook, I’m totally down with heaven and people being happy to go there. It’s the OTHER stuff that troubles me. The billions and billions of people who are supposed to be left behind for what one of Harold Camping’s followers called “the horror movie of all horror movies”, with no chance of redemption if they missed it the first time. It’s the soft hearted liberal in me, I guess, but I can’t get stoked about that. 🙂


  3. HP says:

    I have classes on Monday, so I will be very disappointed if this one is right. I have been through a lot to get registered and arrange child care and it would just suck if I did all that work for nothing. 😉


  4. Hollie says:

    here Sharon…here is my comment….

    Can’t wait for this…

    1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
    Rev. 21

    But Mr. Camping is missing the whole know no one knows the hour thing. I can think of at least 2 maybe 3 other “the world will end or the rapture will happen” dates in my 35 year lifetime. They were wrong. Why do we just skip over this verse and think we can know better. We don’t. Jesus told us no one knows for a reason. In my opinion probably so that we could recognize the false “prophets” spouting off this nonsense.

    I, too, as a younger person remember thinking – Oh Lord, please don’t come ’til….(just fill in the blank here). Now, I can’t wait. This world is too full of grief and sorrow. And as much as I would like to see my grandchildren. The thought of my children being spared so much of the pains of this world is much more desirable to me at this point.

    and as controversial as Revelation can be in the Christian world. There are a lot a scary things whether taken that happen before those verses take place whether taken literally or figuratively. I do not wish these judgements on my worst enemies…let alone all of mankind. My interest in the “end times” is much more centered on God making this world right, perfect as it was before the fall. Not the decimation of man.

    This I know…

    God is good.
    God is Just.
    God has it ALL under control.
    God has it ALL perfectly timed.

    I don’t have to worry about any of it. He will take care of it ALL.

    okay…enough rambling from me…

    just hoping I make some sort of sense. I am kinda tired.


  5. Pingback: It’s never too late to be sorry | Strange Figures

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