The End Times

Summer, 1999

You get cancer...

And you get to spend a lot of time in doctors' waiting rooms...

...paging through three-year-old Time and Newsweek magazines. Or the "Ladies Home Journal" I was looking through the other day while I was waiting for my MUGA scan (a heart scan to see if my heart is up to the rigors of my upcoming bone marrow transplant).

I came across a recipe for baked chicken.

Now, I am not what you would call a "Gourmet Chef." I don't make vichie soire. I don't even know how to remotely spell vichie soire! But I like to make things, and I make a few things really well.

It is a small repertoire. Rice Krispie Treats (the secret there is fresh ingredients, the right marshmallows (not the cheap, store brand ones), more butter than they say, and don't put in quite as much Rice Krispies), Toll House cookies (I just follow the recipe on the bag of chocolate chips... and add the smallest pinch of cinnamon), Chex Mix (basically I double everything the seasoning recipe calls for), a really good Chicken Chowder (the kids eat it three or four bowls at a time), and a great pot of Chili (take out the chili powder and add a bunch of cheese and the same recipe becomes our all-purpose spaghetti sauce...and lasagna...).

Anyway, baked chicken sounded really good (and I am towards the end of my second cycle of chemo and my taste buds are coming back)... and easy.

So the other day I made plans for a baked chicken dinner.

It was a disaster.

It's not really worth getting into exactly why. It wasn't that the chicken had caught fire or anything like. It was okay... but just okay. Nothing to write home about.

The main thing was, by the time we all sat down to eat it, everyone was so mad at each other for one reason or another, it didn't much matter. It was just one little family drama after another. Dumb, dumb, little things that somehow escalated into a major crisis.

You know how that goes, I am sure. One of those deals, where looking back, you realize if you had just zagged instead of zigged - if you had just said, "That's okay," instead of "Why did you do that?" - all would be well... But you didn't. You zigged - just a little zig - and the next thing you know, you don't know WHAT'S going on...

Let's just say I had been looking forward to a pleasant, relaxing evening of real family building - and I got just the opposite.

I am not sure we have fully recovered even yet.

So once again I am lying awake in bed late at night, and God seems far away.

I had prayed for peace and harmony, and got anything but.

It doesn't seem like God has things in control at all.

I am tired of being sick. Instead of drawing together, it feels like our family is drifting apart, no matter how hard I try.

The whole rest of the world seems totally out of control - the bombing in Kosovo, the killings in Colorado, the tornadoes in Oklahoma City...

God, are you really out there?

But then I got to thinking, this is just like the Bible says it will be.

The Bible talks about the "End Times," and with the year 2000 rapidly approaching, a lot of people think we are in them. It sure seems like it. The Bible says that in the end times there will be "wars and rumors of war," famines and earthquakes and disasters....

That has never sounded very encouraging to me!

Not that I think we are IN the "End Times." I don't know about that. But there certainly have been enough wars and earthquakes and terrible disasters lately. You turn on the news, and that's all you see. Terrible disasters.

And it certainly doesn't much look like there is a loving God watching over things.

Except that - this is exactly how he said things would be... before the end. BEFORE he turns all things his way - BEFORE he restores the world to the goodness and light he created here in the first place.

God said things would be bad before they got good.

The thing is, if the Bible had said everything would always be fine and wonderful - and you turned on the news this evening, you would immediately know the Bible was lying. Everything is NOT fine wonderful. Not all the time. Things go wrong. Bad things happen.

But God knows this. He told us it would be that way. It isn't a surprise to him. He is still with us, he is not asleep.

His plan is still unfolding, just the way he said it would, thousands of years ago.

One day evil will be crushed. Fortunes will be restored. Pain and suffering and death will be no more. It is a day that is coming. It IS coming. There is no doubt about it.

I am sitting here at my little computer desk at 2:00 in the morning, imaging that day. Imagine it! A day - a day just like this past day - where the sun rises on a misty morning - and there is no more evil in the world. No more hatred. No more shooting. No more bombs. What a wonderful, glorious day that will be!

It is a day that exists already. Even now it exists somewhere out there in time. And every day that passes brings us one day closer to it.

But until that day - and I guess you could call ALL the days before that the "End Times," whether that day comes tomorrow or a thousand years from now, things are going to LOOK bad. It isn't always going to look like God is in control.

That's how the Bible says it is going to be.

But no matter how things might appear, God IS in control. Always.

That is the encouragement.

That is why the Bible was written. Not so much (I don't think) so we can predict the future, but so that we can know that God IS with us, and he is in control.

So that we can know in the end God wins.

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2011 Paul Dallgas-Frey

Originally written, 1999