Usually I can relate to a poem that I read many years ago. I don’t remember the exact words of it but I remember well the thrust of it. It was the way we pray for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The mother prays: Come Lord Jesus… but then she adds: But please let me first see my daughter grow up. A farmer prays: Come Lord Jesus… but then he adds: But please let me first finish my work with that new breeding program. A businessman has his reservations too: Come Lord Jesus… but let me first see that new dealership succeed. A teacher prays: Come Lord Jesus… but then she adds: But let me please first see my favourite class graduate. Even the minister prays with reservations: Come Lord Jesus… but let me first do that preaching series on ‘Love’ from John’s first epistle.
We really do want to see the Lord Jesus return on the clouds of heaven. But we’ve also still got so much living to do. Of course we want to see the kingdom come in glory. But we’ve still got lots of plans and ambitions to keep us busy for many years yet.
There are, however, moments when our reservations fall away and that prayer for the return of Jesus takes on new urgency. I recall dealing once with a particularly unexpected and messy marriage break-up that gave me some sleepless nights and that sent the congregation into somewhat of a state of depression. In the middle of dealing with all of that I found myself thinking: Lord Jesus, if only you’d come back and straighten out the mess that life has becomes at present.
It’s a little strange isn’t it? Our plans and ambitions seem so important to us that they prevent us from being really serious about praying for Jesus to return. Yet the reality is that the event of Jesus’ return would trump our very best plans and activities.
This prayer, of course, is found a number of times in the final book of the Bible – particularly in the last chapter. When I reflect on that I can see why that prayer is so urgent in the book of Revelation. It was a time of fierce persecution. John is given these apocalyptic visions against the background of the reign of the emperor Nero. The persecuted know how to pray this prayer without reservations. So do those for whom life has become unbearable and who long to be released from this ‘vale of tears’. So do pastors and other church leaders when they have to deal with a very messy marriage break up that is affecting the whole church.
It’s when life becomes very messy and difficult and when we realise again that we just can’t fix the brokenness of life that we as Christians throw aside the reservations of that poem and plead with God for the return of His Son from heaven. We know that when He comes it will not only be to “judge the living and the dead” – as the Apostle’s Creed reminds us. He also comes to restore this shattered and bruised creation in which we live and move and have our being. More importantly, he will bring about the perfect health and wholeness that is so often lacking in our own lives.
The book of Revelation holds before us the wonderful images of a restored Paradise in which there will be no more weeping and crying, suffering and death. And it’s a world in which my own battles against sin will be finished forever. It’s not only the messiness of life that removes my reservations to pray for Jesus to return. So does the vision of that glorious new world that is awaiting all those who trust in the Saviour.