May 23, 2007

When We Least Expect It....

2007 1515 page31 capake a bunch of healthy, active teenage girls, put them together in a dormitory, add long winter nights of being cooped up in the housing facility, and you’ve got the recipe for mayhem. Loud shrieking voices and pounding feet echoing down hallways as girls chase each other or run to rooms after hearing a scary story. Creative but bored adolescents dreaming up and executing practical jokes on other students well into all hours of the night (quietly, though, as to not wake up the deans).
Not too many years ago I was a teen girl living in an academy dorm. And on several occasions I partook in the aforementioned activities. I did tell quite a few creepy stories in my time; pranks held much less appeal for me—having the golden rule pop up in the head each time I contemplated joining in the joke-playing kept my nose fairly clean.
I do, however, remember one incident that involved my roommates (and hence me). They had purchased some chips at the general store we were allowed to walk to on Sundays. Leaving the bags on their beds and our door unlocked we went to visit the girls next door. An hour later we went back to our room and were met with a mess. A trail of yellow crumbs deliberately set tracked to their beds. The crumb pathway continued across the beds and up onto the pillows, where the empty bags, nicely flattened, sat. One of my roommates raced out of the room and barged into another. We followed. Not bothering to hide dirty fingers or the diminishing pile of Ruffles sitting on a desk, the girls smirked and said (with mouths full), “You should have locked your door.”
2007 1515 page31“OK,” she replied. “You’re right. I’ll remember that.” She turned to go, paused, and added cryptically, “Make sure you lock your door. And when you least expect it, expect it.”
We devised our retaliation and waited. Three weeks later, when most everyone had gone to Sabbath school (our prey was habitually tardy on Saturday mornings), we tied a pair of pantyhose taut across the hall—doorknob to doorknob. Snickering, we stood around the corner and watched as, a few moments later, the girls tried to leave their room. They pulled and pulled but could only crack their door open a quarter inch.
Boldly strutting past their room, my roommate reminded: “When you least expect it, expect it.”
Since this experience that phrase has always caused me to think of Christ’s second coming. No, not because I expect Him to get back at me for past wrongs but because I simply won’t know He’s coming back until He’s here. And, if I’m not ready for His return—not expecting Him—I’ll be, well, stuck in my room.
In 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul writes: “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (verses 2 and 3, KJV).
Scripture cannot be misunderstood. We can guesstimate about His return, citing the conflagration of war and peace, the disasters plaguing the world, or the changing of laws and times (Dan. 7:25). But the reality is that we don’t know when He will show up. Centuries or seconds—we cannot know for certain when Christ will return. And so we wait, expecting—or not.
The dread those girls felt immediately after the issued warning lessened until they likely forgot about what would be coming. Then retribution came. They weren’t ready, and it was unpleasant. Those unrepentant in the last days, those who haven’t made their decision for Christ, will receive a nasty surprise.
But here’s an encouraging little tidbit (and this is where my history and the future part ways). Christians, called children of light by Paul, are reminded that they aren’t of the night. And while Jesus will come unexpectedly, His return will not surprise the faithful (verses 4 and 5). Indeed, we who are His will be ready, even when we least expect Him.
Kimberly Luste Maran, an assistant editor of the Adventist Review, is attempting to live expecting the unexpected.