It was scripted long ago: Surely I am coming soon.
Yet most of my life I’ve had a detached view on that statement, while feeling guilty that I really should feel more when I hear it. End times, Revelation, the whole Bible is lunging toward the second coming of Jesus. I thought I was just way-laid by fear of the chaos and pain preceding His coming. I thought it was like being excited for summer vacation yet consumed with studying for finals. However, mostly anyone can get through their last week of school– you can always taste summer, no matter how hard the last assignments are.
So what was the gap in my heart? I loved Jesus, so much. I moved countries for Him, spent hours with Him, rejected and chose jobs because of Him. Surely the thought of Him, here, would provoke some sort of emotional response.
Why not? Simply enough, I believed that the Jesus coming didn’t know me.
I’m sure you’ve been to a huge concert or conference in a stadium. At the very least, you’ve been in a room where everyone knows the name of the person standing at the front. I grew up on a small island, so stadiums were non-existent, and you had to fly to our state capital in order to make it to big-name shows. However, I also grew up on a missionary training university, and as a result, I was used to wading through a crowd of at least eight hundred people.
With that many people knowing the musician or speaker– you can feel small, insignificant, or just plain unknown. But ever so often, the worship leader was my good family friend or even a boarder at my house. The speaker was a friend of my parents, or even my parents themselves. This connection to the stage demystified the whole “celebrity” complex, that yes, you know happens in Christian communities. I knew they were human, just like me, who made mistakes and were awesome just the same.
Yet this demystification didn’t take away the thrill when they snuck a secret smirk to only me or if they mentioned my name in a sermon. I loved it– not because I wanted to feel famous (though I can’t deny the intoxicating joy of being noticed)– but because it was a public recognition of our relationship. And when all the fanfare and applause was over, I loved to just be with them, even more so if they were visiting and I’d missed them heaps– laughing our heads off while precariously balancing cups of tea on the couch, no more distance or absence.
Because of these experiences, I could easily imagine present-day Jesus singling me out in a crowd. I knew so well that He saw me, and if He was on a stage, He’d smile at me, share an inside joke with me, or tell everyone that He loved me. But when it came to me reading Revelation and imagining Jesus coming when “every eye will see him” (Revelation 1:7)– my emotions went dull. Dead. Passive. I never really understood it, and just blamed it that I “didn’t love Jesus enough” and didn’t have my hope fully in God.
Why? Even though the apostle John wrote in Revelation about a future Jesus, one that would know me intimately– I had put Jesus-when-He-comes in the same category as other historical characters. A distant man in a Bible story. Not the person who I’ve talked to every day for over a decade. Not someone who’s whispered comfort to me when I’ve cried. Not my closest friend. My heart had taken on the author’s Jesus. And at that time in human history on the earth, I did not exist. Imagining Jesus coming back was relatively interesting, but did not provoke any emotions of closeness like I had in my day-to-day relationship with Him.
But in one moment, I got it.
We were singing Hallelujah, our Bridegroom is coming! for the hundredth time last year.
That’s when it hit me.
I saw Him. With every eye on Him, on the highest stage in all the earth, coming to Jerusalem. The Day we’ve been singing about for thousands of years. Crowds were in awe, separating us– and He was the farthest He could be from me.
And yet… suddenly He was looking at me. Smiling.
The weight of all our memories so close to His heart. All our tears, laughter, and adventures– right there on His face as He gazed down at me. Rather than a kind stranger– oh He really was my best friend. He knows me today, and He will know me that day, too.
Do you love Him, dear reader? Do you have difficulty imagining what it will be like?
Well, before you go back to flicking through social media or emails, please picture a place I suspect you know very well: the Arrivals hall of an airport. Can you hear it? The rattle of suitcases, the announcements in the intercom, the sudden squeals of exquisite joy?
Then, read this quote by Jonathan Safran Foer:
“I like to see people reunited, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can’t tell fast enough, the ears that aren’t big enough, the eyes that can’t take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.”
Seeing Jesus will be the end of missing someone– not a vague story-book celebrity, no.
You will finally collide with someone who knows you very well.
“Surely I am coming soon.”
Song Lyrics: ‘From the Ends of the Earth’ by Ryan Kondo