I come from a line of women who made a celebration of nearly every holiday and special event – even Groundhog Day did not go unnoticed. So when my husband was due to return in late spring of 2003, I wanted to have a grand reception. I had been waiting since the previous summer and as the time for his return got closer, so did my anticipation. I made buttons and mailed them to family, found the perfect dress, and planned a vacation after his return. But as he was delayed, I learned what it must be like to live inside the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Mathew 25).
In the previous blog (The Extra Oil: A Military Wife’s Perspective Part 1), I talked about the spouses of the deployed soldiers in my husband’s unit. There were basically two types: Those who were accustomed to deployments and felt it was their duty to serve and help the other families to “wait well”. And the spouses who were irritated by the whole waiting process and were overwhelmed by life issues. When the spring of 2003 came, our soldiers were to be the first-in, first-out group. This was great news! We began to make preparations. Some of us excitedly discussed “the return” and exchanged ideas of how to make redeployment special. Family Support Group meetings had an air of expectation. Then came the news: Well, the band would be the first soldiers returning. The band. God bless them. This became a “ready-and-not” waiting that required the extra oil in Mathew 25.
For three weeks, the now kind of grumpy "wise virgins" were given information that went something like this: “The soldiers are at the port and ready to redeploy. They should be leaving in three days.” Wonderful! I set out my dress, bought the extra groceries, mowed the lawn, and waited expectantly. Then the news came: “Sorry. Another ten days.” This went on for over a month. Eventually, the spouse groups stopped meeting for fear of too many negative comments that would hurt morale. It was reported to us that the only information regarding our soldier's redeployment would occur when they were "in the air”.
So it is true with the return of Jesus. Ever since He ascended to heaven, people have been wondering when He is coming back. Some have grown up with preachers warning them that Jesus was coming at any moment and they watched for a while but got weary. Others have witnessed fringe groups sell all they had and stand on a mountain wearing white and waiting for Jesus. Recently, I heard someone say something like this: “Yeah, I have been told Jesus is coming for a long time. They have been saying this for thousands of years, but He has still not come.” (Paraphrase of 2Peter 3:4). Sadly, they are mocking His return and this is something warned about in the Bible. There is a day coming when those of us who love the Lord Jesus and are watching for His return will be caught up and taken instantly to heaven. It will happen so quickly that Paul describes it as “the twinkling of an eye”. 1Corinthians 15:51-52 describes the event – it is real and will absolutely happen just as the Bible describes. 1Thessalonians 4:16-18 says that the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds and we will always be with the Lord! I will talk about this event, the signs of the times, and the reason we should be watchful, hopeful, and rejoicing in future blogs.
The day of Jesus's return for His bride is coming: My husband returned from Iraq a little short of a year. I received a call one day in mid-summer saying “He's in the air!” I was so excited I locked the keys in my car twice in one day. But I was ready. I had my dress pressed and the house ready. It was a glorious celebration that happened at night – just a handful of people waiting for the hangar doors to open. A song about coming home was playing and slowly, the hangar doors parted and revealed one soldier, then another, until all eight were standing there in a row. The little American flags were waved and we welcomed them home with all of our hearts. My husband was home safe and did exactly what he promised and we believed: He returned.
"Surely I am coming quickly!” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.