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Great and Terrible Day
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For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible. Joel 2:11

I love fireworks. I love the beautiful colors and patterns, the anticipation of waiting for each one, the excitement as each one unfolds across the sky, the grand finale with it rapid succession of brilliantly colored lights and noise all at the same time. 

The first summer in our new home found us driving around looking for just the right spot to view the fireworks. By chance we stumbled upon a parking area right at the edge of the field where the fireworks were set off. Much to our surprise, we were really quite impressed with our small town’s display.

As I looked up into the sky and reveled in the bursts of color above me, for the first time in my life I caught just a tiny glimpse of what it will be like when Jesus comes. I’ve never really been able to imagine what it will be like. All my life I have heard and read about the shining angels, the trumpets, how glorious it will be. I’ve seen pictures of those watching the scene with their heads uplifted, their faces lighted up with the glory of His coming.

Gazing upward in wonder, ashes raining down on us as the fireworks exploded across the sky directly over us that night, that scene came alive for me. I could imagine the anticipation of straining to see Jesus, the spectacular beauty of the scene, the excitement of the moment. I could feel the passion and awe of those waiting as they exclaimed, “Lo this is our God, we have waited for Him.” I felt excitement about the actual event of His coming; feelings I had not felt before.

Our twin boys were two-years-old at the time and the fireworks brought far different feelings for them. For small children who were not accustomed to a lot of noise or excitement it proved to be a very frightening experience. They clung to us and tried to hide from all the noise and lights. No matter how much we coaxed, they could not be convinced to look up and enjoy the fireworks. So amid our exclamations of wonder and amazement at how great the display was, they were content to cuddle close to us and hide their faces.

Anticipation or Dread

In thinking about it later, I contemplated how Jesus' coming will be like that. I pondered the different responses of those witnessing the scene. For some it will be a time of great anticipation and expectation. A time when their greatest hopes will be finally realized. If they were able to measure all the joy and excitement they have experienced in their lives it will not begin to compare with what they feel as they stand there gazing upward. The beautiful, shining face of Jesus will pierce the darkness of blind eyes. The shout of the archangel, the mighty trumpets of a multitude of angels will break the silence of the deaf. Wheelchairs will be abandoned. Families long parted will be united, as their loved ones appear whole and healthy beside them. Those resting in their graves will awaken to a more glorious morning than they could have ever imagined.

For others though, it will be a time of absolute terror and dread. A time when instead of running from falling buildings and the destruction all about them, they will desperately plead for the rocks, the mountains, towering skyscrapers . . . anything, to fall on them and hide them from the face of Jesus. A time of regret, of bitterly mourning wasted years seeking things that seemed so important, but in the light of this day, have no meaning at all. A time to run for one last time from the One they have been running from all their lives.

When Jesus comes, I want to stand with my face lifted to the sky, reveling in the beauty of the scene, my heart bursting with the excitement of seeing Him coming closer and closer. I want to feel the passion and joy of finally seeing Jesus face to face and knowing that He has come to take me home to be with Him, on my lips the words, “This is my God, I have waited for Him!” (Isaiah 26:9).

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By Leslie Olin. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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