Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Fury

The fury waits above the sky; the Lord of Hosts will purify.
He pours His wrath upon the earth to His kingdom giving birth.
(Kerry Livgren, "The Fury")

Birth pains.
I know them well.
There is no way to prepare a first time mother for what is about to happen to her. Her body will go into labor. The contractions will come. And they will come again. And they will get longer, stronger, and closer together. Her body will ride a wave so intense and so beyond her control that she will never experience anything else like it. She can seek solace in water, walking, position changes, massages, even drugs. But the body will continue the process. The baby will come. And there is nothing she can do to stop it.

For a control freak like me, it is an uncomfortable position to be in. And labor is always the first thing I think after I see a "positive" test. Truthfully, I feel claustrophobic. I am in a condition for which there is only one way out, and the only thing to do is set my face like flint and face down what I know is to come.

When Jesus compares the end of all things to birth pains, it makes me shudder.
I know birth pains for what they are.
Wave after wave after longer, stronger wave.

In Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, the gospel writers document Jesus' warning to us to be alert to birth pains. He also reminds us that no one will know the hour, but the thrust of the conversation is really a heads' up from the Lord Himself. "Stay awake!"

And what will those birth pains consist of?
Rumors of wars.

There is nothing quite like the elements of nature to make mankind feel so utterly helpless and out of control. The farmer can sow his seed; but he can't make it rain, and he can't stop the grasshoppers. The city can build its seawall; but it can't stop the tsunami. The architects and engineers can put their skyscrapers on rollers; but they can't prevent the earthquake.

When I look at pictures of the latest earthquake in Japan, I am reminded of Jesus' warnings to us. The devastation there is utter. The grief, the loss, is excruciating.

One earthquake.
Numerous aftershocks.
And a tsunami.
And at least three nuclear meltdowns.

There are tens of thousands missing.
Missing humans made in God's image.
Missing humans with real souls destined for a real eternity.

On a normal day, one soul meets his Maker every three seconds. But in a natural disaster of the proportions of this last earthquake, thousands went to their eternity in just a few minutes' time.

At the hand of God.
The God whom the wind and the waves obey.
It chills me--for the sake of every lost soul.

For this may not even be the wrath of God yet. This may just be living in a fallen world--just a little foretaste of what is to come. And if Jesus testified that it will be like birth pains, then I can testify that it will be unstoppable, uncontrollable, and fierce. It will be a divine fury let loose on a creation that has rejected and rebelled against its Creator.

"But because of your hard and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of God's wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed." (Romans 2:5)

Are you ready?

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