My King will soon come back again!

“The Lord’s Return”: I’m not exactly sure what kind of feeling the phrase generated in me before the College Retreat last weekend. I guess “indifference” would probably describe it pretty closely: I knew the Lord’s second coming as a fact, but I also knew that there are a few signs yet to be fulfilled before He comes, so I was basically very 不冷不热 (lukewarm). Praise the Lord, by His mercy, the speaking last weekend really overturned me. “The energy of our endurance is the hope of seeing His face.” This is the only real hope! All other hopes — for a good career, a good family, a good future — have no positive destiny. Those less self-centered might hope for greater things: social justice, racial equality, world peace. These also are to no avail… unless they’re embodied in the hope for Christ in His second coming as the unique solution to every world problem. Call us Christians naive — we only believe what’s written in the Bible! Here’s just one (particularly appealing) example from Isaiah 11:

And the wolf will dwell with the lamb; And the leopard will lie down with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a young boy will lead them about. The cow and the bear will graze; Their young will lie down together; And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the cobra’s hole, And upon the viper’s den The weaned child will stretch his hand. They will not harm nor destroy In all My holy mountain, For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah, As water covers the sea.

“Does our living bear the testimony of waiting for His return?” What a probing question. I still don’t know all of what this living should look like, but certainly it’s a living

  • in the divine history within human history
  • in Christ, by Christ, with Christ, for Christ, one with Christ
  • as a heavenly citizen, taking no root in this earth (Hebrews 11:16)
  • that does not allow eating, drinking, and marrying (Matthew 24:38; the necessities of human existence) to drug and dull the senses; that instead is vigilant in watching and beseeching (Luke 21:36)
  • of paying the price to gain a reserve supply of oil (the Spirit) in one’s vessel (soul) (Matthew 25:1-13)
  • of being faithful to trade with one’s talents — to use the gift given by the Lord (Matthew 25:14-30)
  • of not only believing in His return, but also loving it, expecting it, and even hastening it — by preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 24:14) and building the church
  • of aspiring to be ripened early for His satisfaction, to be precious enough to be “stolen” by Him (Revelation 3:3)
  • that echoes His promise of “I come quickly” with the prayer “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”  (Revelation 22:20)

Thou healing sun! Thou hope of man!
I really love Thy ray.
Oh, righteous Lord! oh, glorious King!
I bow to Thee and pray:
Oh, may Thou soon ascend Thy throne
And quickly show Thy face;
Thy heav’nly kingdom may Thou found
And grant all men Thy grace.

(full lyrics)

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Moon musings

It’s 8/15 on the lunar calendar today (in China) and tomorrow (in Canada). 中秋节. There’s none of that festive atmosphere here, of course, but we do have homemade moon cakes… and seeing the moon on its (arguably) brightest night does make me somewhat nostalgic. About what, you ask? There’s no particular person or thing that I substantially miss in China; what’s there is the pull — however intangible — toward one’s homeland. Now, I’d never describe myself as an “exile”, and Canada’s too much my home to be “alien soil”, but I was reminded of this stanza of a particularly precious hymn:

What exile cannot but desire his homeland
And long his people once again to greet?
What soul on alien soil forgets his kindred?
What parted lovers never yearn to meet?
O Lord, how can these earthly loves and pleasures
With all the joy of Thy return compare?
Then, if I cannot here behold Thy countenance,
What can I do but sigh till Thou, my Lord, appear?

(full lyrics)

When I first chanced upon this hymn (while sitting at the piano some time ago), I was a little taken aback that even Christians filled with the holy Spirit experience a certain sense of void. Now, after the retreat last weekend (see upcoming post), I think I understand just a tiny little bit what the writer of this hymn meant. I can’t describe the sentiment to you; I can only tell you that I want my Lord Jesus to come back.

Lord, how long? My Beloved, when will You return?