No, I am not referring to the much-publicized prediction of engineer-turned-evangelist Harold Camping, which flopped last Saturday. Neither do I intend to rub salt in the wounded spirit of his followers who spent hard-earned resources for the cause. While some ridiculed them, I still have high regard for people who dared to give all for a cause. Fanatic, naive, misled, misguided, blinded, or whatever adjectives we wish to use to describe them, they have done their share for the love of the gospel. Who knows, perhaps there were hearts renewed, lives changed through their perceived naïveté or fanaticism. Even just seeds planted, or souls led to the doorstep of salvation which later will enter into the gates of heaven.
I can still recall the prelude to my conversion. How I responded to the altar call of an evangelist after he preached the gospel and warned us of the urgency of making the decision at that moment. Seconds later would be too late. It was motivated, as it is for some, by fear of the apocalypse and eschatological perils of the unsaved, factual or exaggerated. Regardless of the motivation, that was instrumental to the real conversion and transformation which follow after a long, painful process.
Yes, I am writing on a different subject, although not totally unrelated. A different ruptured rapture experience. Ironically, I refer to myself – the quenched excitement for my 57th birthday celebration. Having been under medication for a health condition for more than a year, I had high hopes of receiving my long-requested gift from God – full recovery for my birthday celebration on May 27.
Such expectation is not without basis. Conditions have been favorable for its realization. There is considerable progress no matter how slow. I have been faithful in taking my medication, except when resources were occasionally drained. Religiously I watch my diet, and perform my daily walking exercise and other health-related activities with few lapses. My inner self has been subdued to wait patiently for the Lord. Negative thoughts are controlled, other mental baggage and emotions unloaded, liberally forgiving even the seemingly unforgivable.
Like a student trying hard to maintain passing grades until graduation, I had been expecting to get the reward on my birthday. But two weeks before the expected day, the progress was reversed. Triggered by a negligible lapse, I almost returned to the start when my blood pressure shot up. The progress and hopes almost came to naught.
The expected rapture-like experience was ruptured. Hurt, I geared for an argument with God in the early morning of my birthday. However, flashbacks of past memories dominated my thoughts. The pictures of my mother’s story concerning the circumstances of my birth played before me, followed by my father’s image – then my brothers and our only sister, and soon my wife, kids, and significant people who have influenced my life – until my mind was flooded with beautiful memories of past events and people I have worked with in development work and pastoral ministry, my colleagues in social work, and even those people I hurt and those who have wronged me, sans the ill feelings.
Overwhelmed by the grace of God for making me survive any storm in life, I almost cried. Subdued, I could only say, “Thank you for everything. And sorry for my unbelief, for my doubt, for complaining, for failing to fully appreciate what you have done to me. At times, blaming you. How glad I would be to receive complete healing as a birthday gift. If not, however, I know you will give it to me in the fullness of time.”
After meditation and breakfast, I was inspired to draft this article. I alternately worked on it, responded to birthday greetings on social networks, and read news online. At times, I checked updates on Harold Camping’s followers’ reaction to their ruptured rapture prediction. There appears to be a similarity in our experience: the peril of confining God in our human timetable.