Life has been getting really stressful these last couple of weeks. I’m grateful that my wife encouraged me to do something relaxing. That something relaxing was finally trying Stardew Valley. I never knew that I needed a game before.
Growing up, I was absolutely terrified of the end times. It was the 90’s and Left Behind was everywhere. My mom read them and I ended up reading the YA versions of the books. Every night I would close my eyes and pray not to be left behind. The fear that at literally any moment the trumpets would sound and everyone I knew (my social circle was fairly small, as a homeschool kid in a small town in Arizona) would vanish and suddenly Nicolae Carpathia would become a real person.
It saddens me to know that there will have been countless kids whose stories haven’t turned out the same as mine has. I’m 31 now and I’m an overseas missionary. The apocalypse and its associated fear-mongering didn’t result in me abandoning the hope of the gospel. This is an act of God and I think it can only be found on the fact that the gospel is actually good news. The gospel means that the end is good news.
Right now, one of the most frustrating things that I see online is people not realising what the end of everything means for Christians. But before I go further, let me first state that I don’t believe that what we are seeing is any more a sign of the very end than Nero’s reign was a sign of the very end. Global pandemics are not new. Microchips are just another form of technology, they aren’t a sign of worshipping the devil. Vaccines are not the government’s way of tracking its citizens. Unfettered use of social media and a failure to manage privacy settings means that no government needs to try that hard to know what its people are up to.
Ok, here’s why the end is good news.
Jesus is coming back
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (ESV)Acts 1:11
The Jesus who lived a sinless life on the behalf of sinful people is coming back. The Jesus who died a sinner’s death on the behalf of sinful people is coming back. The Jesus who rose from the grave and conquered death and the enemy is coming back. The Jesus who did all of this to save you is coming back.
That’s what the end means. The end isn’t about Christians losing their status or privilege in a world that has been actively seeking their destruction since the fall. The end is about God’s people being reunited with their Saviour.
The end means no more suffering
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (ESV)Revelation 21:4
In 2016, my wife and I suffered a miscarriage. This little life that had been growing within her was suddenly gone. It was one of the most painful experiences that we have ever had. We had so much hope and joy from the expectation of a new member of our family.
And one day, it was gone.
But we are not without hope because one day there will be no more pain. One day, we will get to see this life that we were so excited for. Our family will be reunited and it will be better than it ever could have been here on earth. It will be better because we will be together with Jesus. We will be together with our Saviour and we will no longer know pain or tears.
stop fearing the end
If you are in Christ, then you cannot be lost.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (ESV)John 10:29
So much of the fear that I see around ”the end” is a fear of being caught unawares. It was my fear as a child reading Left Behind. But the thing is, our hope is not in our ability to keep our salvation.
Our hope is that we have a Saviour who keeps his promises. So, while we press on in the faith, we press on with the assurance that the Holy Spirit is at work in us and is preparing us for the day we meet our God.
Sometimes the most perfect distraction comes along when things are stressful.
My family is in the process of packing up our belongings to return to the UK. One of the things that we have had to do is optimise what we use each day because we’re going to be flying with a budget airline and can only carry so much stuff. That has meant that the ESV journaling Bible I have been using since November, with its margins covered in notes and highlights, has had to be packed into a box to be shipped.
I was sad at first. I’ve grown to really, really, love using a physical Bible. But I’m thankful that I live in a time where I still have access to the Word. I have multiple apps for Bible study on my Mac, iPad and iPhone. I’m not going without.
And the Digital Journaling Bible that Crossway released right around Christmas time is proving to be absolutely perfect for this time right now. So while things feel like complete chaos, at least I still have what keeps me grounded.
Full disclosure: I have a lot of friends who work for or with Crossway. I still paid either full or sale price for the stuff that I use, though I have received a couple of Study Bibles and a children’s devotional for free in the past.
- How to drink Nescafe
- How to be okay with drinking Nescafe
- How to ask for a carrier bag in Polish (poproszę torbę)
- How to pronounce the name of the street we live on
- What it’s like to navigate an immigration system that works in a language you don’t speak
Fougasse. I really love baking bread. It’s a nice distraction from all of the stress. Support raising and international moving.
Considering how awkward support raising has felt in the past, I’m surprised at how… normal it feels now. If you’re at all interested in supporting my family and our ministry, you can give here.
At the start of lockdown, one of the more annoying things that was showing up online was advice from Vay-ner-chuk wannabes.
You have to crush this lockdown!
All while showing that they clearly had no idea what was actually about to happen.
You need to be better at the end of this thing!
All while clearly demonstrating that they have no idea what it takes to try and work while your kids are around ALL. THE. TIME. And those kids have schoolwork to do.
One of the biggest struggles that I’ve had over lockdown is that I’ve simply not been able to be as productive as I wanted. Most of the time it was simply out of my control because I had to wait for something, an email or a call.
When things started, I had hoped to have done more writing or even to have done more reading. And I kind of did. I moved into a new notebook and sketchbook. I packed up my books to get them ready to ship. I helped the worship team for our church here figure out how to move forward while the church is still dispersed. We recorded songs and have prayed together.
But the thing that has proven to be the thing that I accomplished over lockdown was learning to enjoy exercise. The problem has never been disliking it, it was just never motivating enough on its own for me to keep doing. And it probably wouldn’t have happened outside of lockdown. As a family we have been doing PE With Joe.
Doing interval training five days a week has a way of building up a basic foundation for getting fit. What’s been most encouraging is being able to feel and see changes. My wife and I have both lost weight and gotten stronger, our kids are stronger now. We are in the slightly tricky stage of our wardrobe still kind of fitting, but fitting badly.
The biggest change, though, is that it now feels like it is just a part of what we do. After fifteen weeks of working out every day, it has become a part of our identity in a way we never expected. I had feared coming out of lockdown because I figured we’d just end up back where we started.
But the thing about habits is they have a tendency to stick. And this is one that I’ve come to enjoy. Every day I have a solid 30-45 minutes of focusing on one single task. And that’s what I have to show from lockdown. Despite the stress and the inability to do everything else well, I can at least say I didn’t let myself go.
If you’ve been following, here’s an update on my family and my dad.