Start of a Year, End of the World
The first time my world ended was in kindergarten when the little boy with blond hair and dreams of being a doctor said he didn't like me. I clearly haven't gotten over that since I still think about it to this day. I was crushed. I'd never like anyone else, ever! The next time my world ended was when I was about 11 years old. My sister told our parents that I didn't help her clean, so I had to stay home and she got to go to cook out and get a milkshake. I totally helped her clean! The betrayal was crushing and I'll forever wonder what flavor milkshake I could have chosen. Now, it is 2022, and social media is filled with people talking about how this year will bring the 2nd coming of Christ, and with Him, the end of the world as we know it.
"The moon is rusting!"
"The Jordan River is drying up!"
"People are lining up to get the mark of the beast!"
I'm not worried about any of that. If I had a dollar for every time someone thought they could predict the end of times, I wouldn't be wearing Wal-Mart pants right now. 1 Thessalonians tells us that "The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night". That pretty much settles any argument surrounding the predictions of Armageddon. Even with today's home security technology, you don't know a thief is coming until they arrive at your house, uninvited. So, I don't worry about knowing when He will come back. My worries center on where I will end up after He arrives. For the people named in the Lamb's Book of Life, the end of the world is actually the beginning of paradise. For everyone else, the end of the world is also a beginning, but of eternal separation and nothingness. Our concern shouldn't be when it will happen, but where will will end up once it does happen.
More than anything, I dread hearing "I never knew you". Just thinking of those words coming from Jesus to me starts a panic attack and I have to do breathing techniques to get my heart rate settled. Yeah, I consider myself a Christian, but I'm not a very good one. Sometimes I wonder if Jesus ever considers me one of His. Someone recently told me, "I trust your heart". It is nice to hear, but I wanted to say, "Yeah, uh, I wouldn't do that." I don't trust my heart, at all. Everyday is a constant battle between me and my heart, both in the literal sense and figuratively. With anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies, my physical heart and I don't get along. But, my figurative heart is so much worse! It wants things it can't have or afford. It wants to lie and cheat to get what it thinks it deserves. It want's everyone else to know they are wrong and that I should be the authority on all things. Worst of all, it doesn't care if everyone else is suffering, as long as it is getting what it wants. My heart is very much in tune with my fleshly desires. Everyday is a struggle between my heart and my soul, which is the exact opposite of my heart. Where my heart is dark and evil, my soul wants to do what Jesus calls us to do. My soul wants to help, wants to care, wants to live a pure life. Unfortunately, my heart has had many more years of practice in getting what it wants than my soul, and it doesn't play fair. So yeah, I am often worried about where I will end up for eternity.
If you read my first post on this site, you know I am a poor Christian. If you didn't, well, my name is Amanda and I am a poor Christian. I am way to shy, introverted and insecure to go around spreading the good news of Jesus. I struggle to read my Bible and that is just when I remember to even open it up. My faith does not have a strong foundation. It is more like a child who believes in Santa. I cover my ears and and chant, "Jesus is real! Jesus is real!" But, just like one photo of mom and dad (mostly mom) buying and wrapping gifts will destroy that fantasy, one thought, video, or biblically incorrect sermon will send my "foundation" to the bottom of the sea. A few years ago, my husband and I went on vacation to Kentucky. While we were driving random roads in the countryside, we came across a sign that had a name of a place or organization nearby. I remember thinking that it sounded like the name of a cult. I turned to Dustin and told him to get me out of there. Not because I was afraid we would be hurt or that we were in any kind of physical danger, but because I knew that I was exactly the kind of person a cult would want to wander into their base. I am a cult's dream, and I know it. I wouldn't last 5 minutes before I signing over everything I own and putting on a white tunic. I am easily persuaded and gullible. Without a firm understanding of the Bible or a strong foundation of faith, I am the exact candidate for a cult, and don't I know it.
Dustin took religion classes in college and will occasionally try to tell me something he learned about in class or what his professor mentioned or even try to get me to listen to a sermon on YouTube from someone I have never heard of. Immediately, I stop him and tell him that I'm interested. I am careful about who I read, listen to or believe because my faith is so shaky. "Amanda, just read your bible! Duh!"
Yeah, I know. But there are so many other things to do! Countless true crime documentaries, countless social media sites to scroll through, and so many things to Amazon to go through and buy! How can someone get into Heaven when they don't even know what 10% of the Bible says? And what about faith? Don't you need faith to get into Heaven? I know a mustard seed is very small, but it feels like my faith is smaller. When I meet Jesus, will He say He never knew me because I never took the time to read His word?
What about good works? I can be very selfish. My time, my energy, and my motivation are all incredibly lacking most days. You want me to go clean for someone? I can't... back problems, you know...
You want me to donate money and supplies? Um, what money? I am pretty sure I qualify as needy. Yeah, I live in a house with a steady flow of food and warm clothing... but I don't have that shiny car I've wanted for about 4 years, so, yeah... I'm definitely needy.
Oh, you want me to go tell others about Jesus and what He did for the world? I can't. Anxiety. Like, what if they get mad at me? What if they ask me questions I don't know the answer to, which would be just about any question that could be asked.
I don't spread the word, I don't go out of my way for others, and I a faith tank perpetually on empty. How can I possibly get into heaven?
The Bible tells us that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Sounds easy, right? But then, it also says that there will be those who will say, "Lord, Lord!" and Jesus will reply, "I never knew you." That is very scary to me. I pray and turn to Jesus when I need help or am thankful, but what if that isn't the type of calling on the Lord the Bible talks of? It is so confusing! How can I be certain that I will get to Heaven if I am not even certain that I am calling on the Lord in the right way?
A few weeks before Christmas, I was in Greensboro and saw someone on the sire of the road, with a dog, begging for food and money. In case you didn't know, I am the kind of person who is fine with people dying horrible deaths in scary movies, but will bawl my eyes out when an animal is hurt. When I saw that dog, my heart went out to it. I got in the drive thru line at Starbucks and I couldn't stop thinking about this woman and her dog. I just knew I had tot do something for them, so I did. I even got the dog a puppuccino, which just made me so happy. That is good right? I did something for someone in need. But I hid it. I didn't tell my husband because I knew our money was tight from Christmas shopping and every dollar was important. Did my good act done in the dark not count? Did I sin while trying to do something good? Did God toss that one out as invalid? Why does trying to make sure you go to Heaven have to be so confusing? Why can't God just send me a VIP pass in the mail so that I can be sure that I am on the list? (Oh, and does watching horror movies take my name off the list?)
2020 brought a lot of changes, mostly bad, but one thing it did was remove the veil and allow us to see each other and ourselves for who we really are. When times get tough, who are you going to be? The past 2 years taught me that I am horribly judgmental and quick to judge. I am also a very angry person inside. You won't be able to tell just from looking and talking to me, but trust me, it is there. With 2020 came the year of the masks, mandates, and guideline. I did not take to any of those kindly. I will spare you my usual rant on why I feel all of these thing are absurd (there's the anger) but I will tell you that by the end of that year I was disgusted with myself and the person I had let that year turn me into. Every time I saw someone with a mask on, I rolled my eyes and muttered idiot under my breath. Every time I saw someone alone in their care with a face shield on, I laughed at how stupid I thought they looked. I became defensive when people gave me a look for not wearing a mask or asked me to put one on. Then came 2021 and the you know what. I'm not going to say it, because I'm a bit of a conspiracy theorist, but you know what rolled out that year. I couldn't believe that people were lining up to get them! I saw everyone around me as ignorant and blinded by political lines and the contempt grew in my body. I was angry and bitter and just completely absent from anything resembling a Christian.
Jesus tells us that the one who follows the commands of His Father will be in Heaven. I thought I just had to accept Jesus as my Savior, now I have to live like a Christian! Surly He didn't mean in 2020 with what I saw as a pandemic of ideocracy! God allowed David to kill, so surely I can look down my nose at people, right? While I have rolled back the contempt and frustration and irritation I used to feel towards others, I still don't do a good job following God's commandments, or even the simplified list that Jesus gave. Can I be sure I will go to Heaven when I can't even follow simple instructions?
Everywhere you look these days, someone is telling you that the end of the world is coming. It is no longer the crazy-eyed man on the street with a sign and hair that hasn't been washed in weeks! Respectable people, everyday normal looking people are saying it. Some believe the end of the world is coming because signs point to Jesus returning. Others believe it is coming because of climate change or asteroids or lack of finite resources. Everyone is talking about the end of the world, but no one is talking about eternity. No one is talking about where they think they will end up. It worries me on an almost daily basis. The anxiety can be overwhelming. I'm not well versed in the Bible, but I know enough to be terrified of Hell. Unfortunately, fear of Hell does not get you into Heaven. There are so many conflicting thoughts and interpretations on what is required to get into Heaven, and I am over here covering my ears, unsure of who to listen to. What if I listen to the wrong idea, and pay for it all of eternity? I don't know if the world is ending, or when it will end and that doesn't bother me. I don't know where I will end up afterwards, and that is what terrifies me.