Luke 21:25-36 (NRSV)
25 "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." 29 Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 34 "Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Have you ever experienced an earthquake? I have on several occasions. It's not a pleasant experience. When an earthquake begins, it's hard to understand what's happening. Once you realize it's an earthquake, fear quickly sets in. Your future seems uncertain. Will the building you are in fall down? Will you survive?
I experienced my first earthquake as a young child during worship at the Quechan Indian Reservation in Yuma, California. My dad was standing with the rest of the congregation singing a hymn. My mother was at the piano. Suddenly the building begin to shake. There were audible gasps as people tried to fathom what was happening. My mother continued to play the hymn but struggled as the piano begin to move away from her because of the vibrations and rolling effect of the earthquake. Suddenly everything stopped shaking and things returned to normal.
Sometimes there are things that happen in our lives that are hard to understand. Why am I suddenly having heart trouble or why cancer? Why did this accident happen to me? Why did my friend have to die? Why did I lose my job? Why now? These events feel like personal earthquakes and sometimes we wonder if we will make it through. We begin to question the future. What is God up to?
It's like the grasshopper sitting on a milkweed plant near a railroad track in rural Montana. Suddenly a train comes zooming by. It creates a huge ruckus and the milkweed starts to bounce, bob, and weave. Does the grasshopper understand what is going on? Probably not.
Sometimes we feel like a grasshopper on a milkweed plant. Things are happening all around us and we are not sure what it is all about. It's beyond our understanding. And, yes, sometimes it is more than our faith can handle.
The future can change in a blink of an eye. When it does, it throws us off balance. It altars everything. The future was getting ready to change for the disciples and Jesus wanted them to be ready. He wanted them to open their eyes and see all the things that were happening around them. The old world was being dismantled and a new one was taking its place. Jesus disciples lived in a momentous time and so do we.
Uncertainty is a scary thing. We are challenged in this season of Advent to watch and wait. Jesus wants us to know that even though we do not know what the future holds we must learn that God holds the future. We have a future that belongs to God. May our journey into the future always be with God at our side. May our sometimes wavering faith hold us and carry us. Think about it.