May 23rd, 2011 – Caught Up in the Rapture…Of A False Prophecy

Movie poster for the movie, A Thief in the Night

Yes, I’m still here.  And if you’re reading this, you’re still here, too.  We’re all still here.

The Rapture didn’t happen on May 21st as predicted.  I knew it wouldn’t.  A lifetime of attending church services gives me that assured confidence.

All of my life, I’ve heard the same thing.  “Jesus is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle”.  Or “He’s coming like a thief in the night”.  Or “you better get your house in order before He gets back”. 

I heard it from my grandmothers.  I heard it from my mother.  And I heard it at church.  When I was about 10 years old, a lot of young people from our church district went to see a movie on the Rapture.  It was called A Thief in the Night.  The timing of the film’s release was perfect.  It was 1972.  We had just passed through the civil rights movement and entering the decade of peace, the women’s movement, marijuana and free love.  The woman in the movie had been raised a Christian but also enjoying a secular lifestyle.  While her husband had given his life to Christ, Patty simply felt that being a good person was enough. 

One day, she wakes up and realizes that her husband and all other Christians are gone.  She has been left behind and must endure the trials and tribulations under the Antichrist. 

I seem to remember a scene where she’s running across a bridge and encounters a devastating scene.  There are many cars abandoned on the bridge.  The drivers and passengers are gone but their clothes and shoes remain…as if someone had just draped them on car seats and placed them on floor boards.  That feeling of all of her loved ones gone, of being left behind, and being alone really hit me. 

The night we watched the film, many of my young friends approached the church altar to give their lives to Christ.   Some were very genuine in their desire, tears streaming down their cheeks.  Some were just scared by the film and decided they didn’t want to be left behind. 

I didn’t go.  Although the movie scared the “hell” out of me, I was even more scared to go to the altar.  I wanted my friends to think I was cool and didn’t need God in my life.  But I also didn’t want the judgement of other Christians because I had not ALREADY become SAVED or a BORN AGAIN Christian.  Some of my friends had already gotten saved and were excited about God and the church.  If I went to the altar, people might realize that I still was not saved.   And oddly enough, I felt Patty – alone, feeling left behind at the back of the church as I saw some friends walking towards the front 

The other impact left by the film is the signs occurring before the coming of Christ.  This month, most Sunday school lessons are focusing on those signs from the book of Revelation.  But even the signs won’t reveal the date or time when Christ shall return. 

Many Christians who have studied the Bible were not worried about being ready at 6 PM EST on Saturday, May 21st.  They went about their normal lives.  Of course, many non-believers were doing the same.  But I’m sure there were even some “Christians” who believed the prophecy of American Christian radio host Harold Camping. 

Where was I at 6 PM EST?  I was at the home of some friends for dinner and a movie.  Although we had some classic films to consider, we narrowed our decision between two contemporary films.  Two of us had already seen The King’s Speech.  So we chose instead Hereafter.

Movie poster for Hereafter

Although it was a little slow, the film was powerful enough to make the viewer think about life and death.  Each character in the movie is forced to either deal with their current lives…or deal with the death of someone else. 

I did not wake up Saturday thinking about the rapture.  I woke up thinking about the death of someone else.  My day began at the funeral of someone from those days of A Thief in the Night.  Many of the young people I grew up with around that time were there.  We grieved the loss of a friend, a talented violinist, a fellow Christian.  We celebrated a life and our impromptu reunion with hugs and kisses…and some tears.  We said goodbye to Sam and exchanged numbers for a future, and more organized, reunion sometime this summer.

Yeah, we’re all still here…and life goes on. 

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.                                                                                                                                               I Thessalonians 5:2

That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.                        II Thessalonians 2:2

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