Do you remember playing the game hide-and-seek when you were younger? Perhaps you play it with your children now! In this game, the thrill comes from preparation of a good hiding place, anticipation of suddenly getting found, and expectation of getting the opportunity to be the seeker. This is much like the way a Christian is to live as we prepare for Christ’s immanent return, anticipate the glory of meeting Him in the air, and the expectation of being with God and with loved ones forever. All of this is to generate hope (confident expectation, not uncertainty for the future) and cause us to live a certain way. John Macarthur reminds us, “From the very earliest days of the church, the apostles and first-generation Christians nurtured an earnest expectation and fervent hope that Christ might suddenly return at any time to gather His church to heaven. James, writing what was probably the earliest of the New Testament epistles, expressly told his readers that the Lord’s return was imminent: ‘Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:7-9)’”
Ten, nine, eight, seven, six ... as the numbers count down, you frantically try to find the perfect hiding place. Five, four, three ... you are not ready! Please, may the counting slow down so that you are not caught first. In the game of hide-and-seek, the preparation does not catch you unawares if you can hear the countdown. Sometimes, however, you struggle with finding the right place, and the countdown ends before you are ready. God has given us His countdown by laying out some of the events we will see before the end, but most of those have to do with the timed events of the tribulation and the millennium. The Bible makes it clear that nothing is prerequisite to the rapture of the church. In fact, most of the New Testament writers thought that it might come in their lifetime (James 5:9; Philippians 4:5; 1 Peter 4:7; Hebrews 10:25; Revelation 3:11)! The key to being prepared in the game was to find a good hiding place quickly. When it comes to Christ’s return, the key is to ‘abide’ in Him, which is to allow Christ to direct every area of your life. John reminds his readers (1 John 2:28), “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.”
You wait. It is dark and cramped, but it is worth the effort. You want to be the last one found, but you do want to be found. The glory of having the best hiding place is usually the privilege of being the next seeker. While you wait, much goes through your mind (perhaps, or maybe you are the type that doesn’t think about anything!). :) So, how much are you anticipating the Lord’s return? Too many people, I think, have a list of things that they want to accomplish before His return. Perhaps you want to get married and have kids first, or maybe you feel the need to grow to a certain point of maturity in your faith first. Jesus taught His disciples to anticipate His return with hope and gladness, to look forward to the reunion with excitement. Once you have properly prepared, you can anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ with excitement. What are the reasons for this anticipation? Recognizing the glories of Heaven, looking forward to the absence of sin are the best, but there is also rewards to look forward to. Paul reminded Timothy (2 Timothy 4:8) that, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
One of the things going through your mind as you wait in your hiding spot could be the expectation of what it will be like to be found, or perhaps seeing in what order you and your friends are found. You also expect the opportunity to be the one seeking, or even the opportunity to up the ante and find an even better hiding place next time. What is your expectation when Christ returns? Another important question we need to ask ourselves is ‘What is Christ’s expectation of us as He plans His return?’ The one who will be returning says clearly to us (Revelation 22:7), “Behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” If we are truly prepared and anticipating His return, then the expectations will be fulfilled! Our expectation of Heaven and rewards will come to pass, and His expectation of our readiness will be true. What a wonderful thing to look forward to!
“Ready or not, here I come!” The cry we all anticipated (or at times feared) rings out to begin the hunt. A similar cry will be shouted by the archangel when Christ comes in the clouds to receive those who are His (1 Thessalonians 4:16)! When we have the correct attitude and anticipation of the Lord’s return, otherwise known as The Day of the Lord (in two parts: rapture first, tribulation, then full return), then we will desire to be focused on doing God’s will. It should be a full-time focus, 24/7, so that when Christ returns, He catches us doing what He has called us to do. The writer of Hebrews reminds us (Hebrews 10:24-25), “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” If you are wondering what that looks like, then study your Bible! There are many passages that explain what God’s will is for you, and His purpose for your life. Peter gives one of those (1 Peter 4:7) saying, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”
So, what are you going to do about this?
If Jesus was to return today, what would He catch you doing?