"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NIV)
I find myself praying something my father's mother used to pray a lot when I was a little girl:
Come, Lord Jesus, come!
I used to pray that He would come after I got married and had children. My almost twelve-year-old daughter confided to me the other day that she prays that same prayer. I assured her that her desire to grow up and have the joy of marriage and motherhood is natural. But I also told her that one day she would start praying the way I do now and so many others before me have prayed when she has tasted enough of this world's sorrow and injustice.
I used the following story in my Bible study, Living With Unmet Desires, to illustrate the truth of why the glad reality of heaven can be forgotten in the middle of the muck we might find ourselves in. I cannot read it without tears coming to my eyes.
Forty years after leaving their homeland of America to serve as missionaries in Africa, Henry Morrison and his wife were pulling into the port for the last time at New York Harbor. As Henry looked at the dock where the ship carrying them home was to pull in, he saw a large crowd awaiting the ship’s arrival. Astonished at the excitement of the people in the port, Henry turned to his wife and said,
“They haven’t forgotten about us!”
Unbeknownst to the Morrisons was the fact that their ship also carried President Teddy Roosevelt returning home from a hunting expedition to Africa. The crowd was in a frenzied state of excitement as President Roosevelt emerged from the ship. Deafening cheers from those welcoming the president engulfed the Morrisons as they slowly walked away from the ship, unnoticed, to hail a cab to take them to their one bedroom apartment. Not one person had been waiting in the vast crowd to greet the missionary couple on their return.
Henry Morrison fell into a depression as he tried to put the incident at the harbor out of his mind. After several weeks of wrestling with his feelings, he turned to his wife one day to confess his bitterness concerning the matter. Henry shared how dejected he felt as he compared the warmth of the crowd toward President Roosevelt returning from a hunting trip with the coldness of having no one to greet the Morrisons.
Mrs. Morrison encouraged Henry to go to the Lord with his sorrow, reminding her husband that God did not mind Henry’s questioning Him over his feelings. Henry decided to take his wife’s advice and quietly went into the bedroom and closed the door.
Henry Morrision poured out his grief to the Lord on his knees in the small room. He told the Lord that he felt it just wasn’t right that the president had received such an enormous welcome when Henry and his wife had received rejection after faithfully serving God for forty years without complaining.
Several minutes passed before Henry returned to his wife’s side. Mrs. Morrison wondered at the change in Henry’s face. His expression was peaceful as he explained to her what had taken place in the bedroom between the Lord and him.
“The Lord settled it for me,” Henry conﬁded in his wife. “I told Him how bitter I was that the President received this tremendous homecoming, but no one even met us as we returned home. As I ﬁnished, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said:
‘But, Henry, you are not home yet!’”
My sweet Jesus, how often I forget that I not home yet. You have gone to prepare a place for me and You are coming back to get me so that where You are, I also may be! The seventy or eighty years here in these shadowlands are only a vapor. Strengthen my heart today to know: the best is yet to come! Even so, Lord Jesus, come!