Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Trumpet or Train?

When I was a young girl, I was awakened out of my sleep by a distant sound. After hearing message after message and invitation after invitation in our little church, but still not having come to a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, I was certain the sound was that of the trumpet heralding the rapture of Christians:

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. " I Corinthians 15: 52,53

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
I Thessalonians 4:16,17

Immediately, my heart was filled with fear. The rapture was happening, and I was still in my bed . . . I had been left behind. Having heard the Scriptures all my life, I knew about the tribulations which were to happen to those who were left after the rapture, and my heart raced with the thought. Suddenly I had an idea, if this truly was the rapture, I knew my parents would be gone. I would go to their room to see if they were still there.

I crept to their room and peeked inside, they were both sleeping soundly in their bed. My fearful child heart so wanted to wake my mother for comfort and reassurance, but I knew I would receive neither for waking my mom up in the middle of the night. No, I found my solace by laying on the floor at the foot of her bed, being comforted in her proximity if not by her caress.

Laying there, in the dark quiet of my parent's bedroom, I heart the sound again. This time awake, I realized that the sound that I had thought before was the sound of the trumpet of the rapture, was merely a distant train whistle blowing. I felt embarrassed and relieved at the same time. A little later, before my parents could get up and realize where I had spent the wee hours of the morning, I returned to my own bed.

The odd thing about this whole experience is that several times in my youth I would wake up in a fearfulness about dying and spending eternity in hell. I credit a very exuberant Spanish preacher for these moments, during which I would fervently pray to God not to send me to hell, but to instead, save me. Never after any of these prayers did I feel myself to be what the Scriptures describe as a "new creature". Days, weeks, even months might have passed before I would have another fearful episode and I would pray the same prayer with the same results.

Then, two weeks before my sixteenth birthday, I prayed quite a different prayer, with quite a different attitude. This time there was no fear, but great humility and a total loss of any sense of my own ability to do anything to save myself. I was completely aware that there was only one thing I needed in my life to satisfy and sustain me, and that was the Lord Jesus Christ. I knew I would forever be empty and lost without Him. Alone in my bedroom, on my knees, I asked Him to come into my heart, to take over my life and to be my Lord and Savior.

In that instant, my whole life changed. I was indeed that "new creature". The old things, and as the Scripture teaches, that old person, was passed away and all things were new. There was birthed in me an assurance that I never again needed to fear hearing the trumpet in the night, or the train either.

V43 staying at a stationImage via Wikipedia

I wonder how many people have prayed "prayers" for a "god" to save them, that were not prayers from the right heart. Perhaps they are like my selfish "save me because I don't want to go to hell" prayers, instead of a true admission of Christ as Lord and a willingness to enter into a relationship with Him. How many people, like the young me, wanted salvation without a Savior; redemption without relationship; comfort without commitment? How many want to consider themselves "Christians", but yet want to eschew all the Scriptures have to teach and everything that Christ taught?

When we look at our physical births, we are completely certain there is a time in which we were born. Even if for some reason we do not know the exact day or moment, it is obvious to someone that we stopped living inside the womb and started living outside the womb. If we have truly come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we should be just as certain that there was a time in which we were "born again", to quote the Lord. We may not know the exact day or moment, but it should have been obvious to us and to others witnessing the change in us that we stopped living in and of ourselves and started living with the Holy Spirit inside of us. A person doesn't become a "new creature" in the dark, in secret, without anyone noticing. Christianity isn't, and shouldn't be a secret society.

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