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The End Is Near!

Today is my 49th birthday.  Typing that makes me feel old.  Typing that makes me feel like that old barrel-rider and burglar Bilbo Baggins announcing to the party-going Shire that today was his one hundred and eleventh birthday.  I should follow up by telling you all that I don’t like half of you twice as much as you deserve and three quarters of you are known by twice the number of you as much as you like… 

Wait… how did that go again?

Whatever. You get the gist.

Here’s the thing about Bilbo however. He was convinced that there was more adventure ahead of him and indeed he was preparing that very day to walk off towards the misty mountains once more. Leaving the precious ring behind however changed that all. His age finally got the best of him and all the adventure he had left was to wait out his final days with the elves until he was ready to disappear into the Grey Havens.

Don’t get me wrong. Traveling from this world into the next is a great journey. Peter Pan is famously quoted saying, “To die would be an awfully big adventure”. Still, that is an adventure I would like to reserve for much later, when all other adventures are complete! There are many more adventures I still wish to have.

Which brings me back to my original statement. Today is my 49th birthday. 49 is a serious age. So serious in fact that my brain can’t really wrap itself around the concept. I keep thinking that today is my 39th. I think it and then have to translate it to myself, “What you mean, brain, is 49. You keep ignoring the last 10 years”

“No” it argues. “That can’t be right. You are legendarily bad a math. I’m pretty sure you are mistaken”.

“Nope, brain. The facts check out.”

“But… but… that means you only have one final year in your 40’s and then you have to step over into the ‘End Game’!!”

The End Game? Really brain? Don’t you know that 50 is the new 40. They keep saying that. Except the only people that tell me that are people in their 50’s. I want to believe it. I don’t feel this old. I want to believe the core of my life and adventures still lay ahead. And yet, 49 is a serious age!

Maybe I still have 50 years left! Maybe 40! Maybe 30! Maybe only 20? None of it is guaranteed and no matter what the actual number is, it’s going to go fast. It always goes so fast.

The days are slow, but the years slip by.

This is the way my brain works. I’m having a wonderful day and a peaceful birthday, and it’s decides to be like a crazed conspiracy theorist standing on the street corner with a blow-horn and a sign that reads, “The End is Near”!

Now don’t get me wrong. I have very little fear of the end. It will, however, be an awfully big adventure. But like I said, there are many more adventures I want to have before it. Perhaps if it was the only voice on a lonely street corner, I could more easily ignore it. It seems however that many more have been joining the chorus.

“The virus is here! The end is near”

“Here comes World War 3. The end is near”

“It’s rapture time! The end is near”

“Here comes the promised persecution! The end is near”

Frankly, there are so many “prophets” saying so many different things that I’m beginning to create odds and and take bets. Just exactly WHO is going to be the closest in predicting the accurate end of all things???

“Ladies and Gentlemen, make your bets. According to some, better do so FAST!!!”

I’m going to be honest with you from the very bottom of my heart. You ready for it? It might shock some of you. Total spoil alert. Here goes…

I… don’t… care… !

In fact, nothing seems to bore me more these days. I really, practically don’t care about when the end of the world comes. I really, practically don’t care about when the end of Kevin comes. I’m not fatalistic at all, but realistically speaking that kind of thing is more or less going to take care of itself. I can do all I can to prolong the timing of it all but eventually it’s going to happen. You all can continue the debates how and when and why and who. You all can follow your prophet d’jour and repost their predictions to your hearts delight.

Probably your wrong (I mean, it’s been the the claim since the days of the early church)

Possibly your right (if so, act surprised. Who wants their final words on this earth to be “I told you so!”)

Here’s the thing however. You bore me. I couldn’t care less about you or your prophet’s prediction that the “End is Near”.

I have a much more exciting adventure to focus on!

In Matthew 24 Jesus himself starts to unravel what the end of all things will look like. I imagine that the debate on his meaning and the intended timeline was debated from that very moment. Was this the end of all time or simply the period of the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.? Was it a little of both, either slipping from one time to the other, or all as a dual-time line?

Would-be theologians, start your debate!

“Wait a minute here, Kevin. Are you saying that Jesus’ own words should be ignored?”

Anything but! In fact what I’m saying here is the opposite. We tend to get so bogged down in the preamble of Jesus’ message here that we spend all our time debating the timeline that we fail to make it to his point.

Matthew 24:45-46 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.”

This is the adventure I want to go on now!

I got news over Facebook last week that a man of God I greatly admired passes away last week. The end had come for Brother Stacy Cline after a lifetime of blessing and challenge, rejoicing and morning, welcomes and good-byes, sacrifice and selfishness, failure and success. He was a saint, and not because he lead a perfect, sinless life, but because he was in love with a holy God. He taught some of his best classes at Elim, but to be honest the greatest life-long lessons I learned from this man of God weren’t in his lectures, but in his failures. I saw him broken, but not without hope. I saw his lost but not without direction. I saw his humbled but never without a humility that would exalt him.

Last week he went on his last great adventure here on this earth. He saw it coming though.

I brought my son to the campus of Elim last September and as we ate dinner that night, Brother Stacy came to sit with us. We talked a little about legacy and the blessing he and his family had been to me over the years. In it, he shared his heart with us.

He knew his was sick and that his body was beginning to fail him. So why was here here? Why did he continue to teach this next generation of adventure-seekers? Why not go off and enjoy the last unknown time upon this earth? No one deserved to do so more that him!

It was for one reason only. He wanted to leave everything on the field. The game was coming to an end for him and so his precious time was just that. Precious. And what a better use of his time to do at the end what motivated him to do all through his life… to prepare others for the adventure of serving and loving a God who had given everything to us. A fellow teacher of his at Elim posted a quote from him this week.

“A relationship with God based out of fear will hold you for a little while, but only his love will keep you for a lifetime.”

This was the adventure Brother Stacy was on his whole life and I don’t know anyone who would debate the fact that he left everything he had on the field.

This is the adventure I want.

Perhaps it will be less grand than my heroes of the faith, such as Brother Stacy, was. Perhaps I will reflect the words of Bilbo’s nephew Frodo when he said,

“I spent all my childhood pretending I was off somewhere else… off with you on one of your adventures! My own adventure turned out to be quite different. I’m not like you, Bilbo.”

Perhaps I will respond to such “end of times” events in the same words he later uses,

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,”

Perhaps I will have to hear the corrective words of that grand mystic Gandalf when he says,

“So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

And what do I want to do with whatever time I have be given? Well, the same as Brother Stacy. I want to leave it all on the field.

The end will come one way or the other. And no matter how long it takes, it will alway be too fast. I’m not worried about that part. I am more excited about the promise that comes FIRST!!!

Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Lord, my birthday wish is this… Let me so enamored about preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God that everything is left on the field! This is the adventure I wish to have.

After all, we all know that when the end finally comes, well.. it’s just the beginning after all!

So today is my 49th birthday and the end of this post is near! Let me finish it with a warning for us all who are lacing up their shoes to go on a grand adventure. I started with the words from Bilbo Baggins, let me finish with his warning,

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

See you out there.

The End

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