I'm not quite sure what prompted me to start praying, but I often do when I am driving to or from work. It's a half an hour drive on straight highway, and so a perfect time to talk to God uninterrupted. Without closing my eyes, obviously.
So yesterday driving home from work I began praying. I was close to home when I started, and so when I turned into my driveway I wasn't ready to stop. Sitting in my car in the carport, I was overwhelmed by the presence of God. I hope my neighbours didn't choose that time to look over their fences, or they may have wondered why I was apparently sitting in my car with my eyes closed, talking to myself.
I prayed about many things that were on my heart, and then was overcome by a feeling of silent awe. It is amazing, and fearful, to feel the presence of God, even in the tiny doses he allows us to feel.
I had the feeling of imminence. Of the urgency of what God is doing. Of His desire for us to be expectant and ready. The time is near. That is what He was saying to me. The time is near. But even as He impressed that upon me, I knew it may not even be in my life time. And yet the time is near.
It's another one of those experiences that is almost impossible to put into words. The simultaneous feeling of the imminence of the end in God's timing, and yet the distance by ours.
It has been on my mind, since the recent discussion about predictions of the end of the world. The Bible clearly says "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" Matthew 24:36.
If only God knows, no human being will ever accurately 'predict' the end of the world. And yet God tells us to be ready. "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Matthew 24:42-44
He want us to be ready. He doesn't want us sitting complacent because we think 'it's still a long way off, we've got time, what's the big deal if I wait a few more years?'
He wants us to be ready, to feel the imminence of the end; if he was saying 2000 years ago to 'be ready', how is it any less urgent now?
I don't think we are meant to think about the 'end' as if that is the time we are meant to be ready for. After that, what comes? Eternity. It is eternity we are preparing for, not the end. God wouldn't have created the world and given us time to live in it, if none of it had a purpose.
Keep watch! Be ready! Like a man protecting his house because he knows a thief is coming - he wouldn't go to bed and sleep, saying "Hopefully I'll wake up just in time to stop him robbing me. Why should I stay awake the rest of the time too?" He would wait, and keep watch and be vigilant. He would take steps to protect his home and ready himself.
Keep watch! Be ready! Whether the end is in our lifetime, or generations from now, it is eternity we are preparing for. And the time is near.