Why the end of the world not being tomorrow makes me sad

It’s been all over Facebook: RSVP now to the post-rapture looting party on May 21, 2011!

The idea that the world is going to end tomorrow, supported by those who follow the calculations of Harold Camping, has become a giant joke to the larger part of those who know about it. It’s far from the first (and certainly will not be the last) time folks have proclaimed that the end of the world will be on such-and-such very specific date. To me, it breaks my heart a little. People have quit jobs, broken their families, and left everything behind in preparation for an event which I, like so many others, am pretty sure won’t happen tomorrow. I can’t imagine the emotional state they’ll be in if dawn breaks on Sunday.

You have to understand that I’m coming at this from the perspective of someone who also believes the world (society) as we know it is likely in its death throes, and that Armageddon is a real thing that I sincerely hope to see begin during my lifetime. I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and we tend to take Biblical prophesies at lot more seriously than many folks in main-stream branches of Christianity. We do the same thing Harold Camping’s group is doing – getting out and warning people – but we’ve been doing it for so long (and mostly without megaphones), that we’re more of an ongoing knock-knock joke than a news item.

And Witnesses have had their run-ins with badly-chosen doomsdays too. The most recent was a date in 1975,  but that didn’t pan out, and it left a lot of people broken-hearted. Perhaps that was a lesson that needed to be learned the hard way. It seems so clear to me, in Matthew 24:36 when Jesus says, regarding the end of this world as we know it, “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” If Jesus himself was not given access to that information, why should we be? We are, however, given plenty of opportunities to recognize that the time is getting close, as outline in the rest of Matthew 24.

As someone who believes that such an end will eventually come (though the end I anticipate bears very little resemblance to the end being trumpeted for tomorrow – no rapture, for example), I have undertaken to live my life simply, so that I will not be reluctant to let it go; to keep my priorities straight, so that spiritual matters and not material ones are kept at the forefront; to help any who will listen see that life cannot go on as it is and encourage them to form their own relationships with God. In such a way, I am capable of living in the “end times,” when life is difficult and disasters too abundant, with both hope and patience, without worrying too much about exact dates and times and what the implications to my faith might be if that doesn’t pan out.

So here’s hoping that if it’s not tomorrow, it’s soon. And to my friends and family: I understand that you may think I’m every bit as nuts as the folks who’ve cashed out their 401ks because they won’t be needing them after tomorrow, and respect that this is not the path you’ve chosen. Thank you for continuing to love and support me. I have every confidence that death – by natural causes, unnatural causes, or divine intervention – will not be the end for any of us.

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