Last week I wrote about a lesson in practicing patience when stopped at a train crossing. The same day I was having those thoughts, another thought occurred to me about a train. Every train has a caboose. The caboose signals the end of the train, at least this time. So whenever I find myself waiting for a train there is always a sense of excitement and hope when I see the caboose. The end is near. Soon my journey will continue. The train will no longer be my obstacle.
This caboose thought, this “end thought,” probably occurred to me because I’ve been reading and studying Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians with some college students this semester. Every chapter of this letter is filled with talk of Jesus coming again. In chapter 1 the call is “to wait for the Son from heaven.” In chapter 2, Paul says the Thessalonian believers are his hope and joy and boasting when Jesus comes again. In chapter 3 it is Paul’s prayer that God will strengthen the hearts of believers in holiness so that we may be blameless before God at the coming of Jesus. In chapter 4 there is a reminder that all believers, those who have died and those who live, together will be with Jesus forever, when he returns. In chapter 5 Paul returns to a prayer, really a blessing saying, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This “end thought” for Paul, this coming of Jesus Christ seemed to be a pretty big deal. For him this was the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. As I waited on a train to pass, I first thought of my impatience and how I needed to grow in that area of my life, but then I thought about why often it seems like I have more excitement over the coming of the caboose then I have about the second coming of Jesus. Oh, not theologically mind you, but in practice, in day to day living. See the passing caboose allows me to get on with my day, my way, my things and my schedule. The coming of Jesus reminds me though of a new day; a day I do look forward to, but a day that is not about my stuff at all. That day is about God’s stuff: His Kingdom and the full Lordship of Jesus Christ. This is the teaching of the New Testament.
So how do I keep this truth and reality at the forefront of my thinking and practice? How do I keep myself waiting with excitement and yet with patience? How do I begin to live with Jesus as Lord over my life right now, so I will be ready and waiting when he comes?