Expectations

 
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This summer, the splendid turquoise waters of Moraine Lake and the exquisite Maligne Lake are awaiting me. If you’ve been to Banff and Jasper in Alberta, Canada, you’ll understand my elation. If you haven’t, a quick web-search will clarify. I’ve been thinking about this trip for years, but now I’ve finally made concrete plans. I know what lies in my future and I’m counting the days till my departure.

In anticipation of my arrival at Moraine Lake, I often imagine what it will be like, conscious that the beauty to be discovered will exceed my expectations. This joy has been so constant in my life recently that it caused me to contemplate the power of expectation. And while I know that my visit to Banff will engrain lasting memories, the upcoming trip makes me think of a much weightier expectation I hold: the second coming of Jesus.

Interestingly, Jesus seems to have always been a much-expected Person. Before His first coming as a Baby in a manger, people awaited His arrival for millennia, scrutinising Messiah prophecies and searching for signs of the time. After Christ’s public ascension to heaven (Acts 1:9–11), humans once again have been expecting His coming for centuries, this time not to be sacrificed for “the sins of many . . . but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28). Why do we wait for this event? Well, everyone has their own set of reasons and I will happily reflect on a few of my motives. I look forward to Jesus’ second coming because:

It will bring me back my loved ones

Like my grandfather and my grandmother whose homestead housed some of my best childhood memories. Or like the grandmother I never met because she died when my mother was three. Or the uncle who died in his thirties after prolonged paralysis, or the twin babies in our church—my first close encounter with the anguish of death. I am grateful for the greatest gift many of these people gave me: their faith in Christ and, through this, the assurance that we will meet again. “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17).

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I will no longer dislike farewells

Death is not the only thing that separates people, and like many in this highly interconnected age, I have travelled and lived in several countries. This means frequent meetings and frequent good-byes, all in the context of an uncertain tomorrow. I still cannot tell whether I would trade the broad horizons of my unsettled life for a stability with a more limited circle of friends and family. What I do know is that I treasure the Bible’s assurance that one day the flow of time will no longer carry us away from each other, but will be a channel for ever-higher accomplishments unmarred by any kind of loss and separations (Revelation 21).

I will not fear danger anymore

As Frodo says in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, “It’s a dangerous business . . . going out your door.” I love travelling and discovering new corners of nature and unique cultural customs, but often I have to consider safety measures. I look forward to a time, after Jesus comes back, when I will be able to travel everywhere without concern. Iceland gave me a foretaste of this last summer. Sure, the country has unpredictable weather, but wise planning should keep one out of harm’s way. Aside from this, though, the crime rate is practically at zero and there are no wild animals to threaten tourists’ safety. I drove day and night without fear, and I felt freer than ever before. For this preview of unfading freedom and beauty, Iceland will forever remain a precious memory.

Evil will be permanently destroyed

Fear and evil were born twins. When the danger of evil emerged, fear began its own parasitic existence. An unseen world of evil powers has been constantly at work since before the creation of our world, seeking to destroy everything that is good and pure and noble. But “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” He will “overthrow [evil] with the breath of his mouth and destroy [it] by the splendor of his coming,” giving relief to the afflicted and eradicating fear forever (2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2:8). The impermanence will be replaced by permanence and the ugly clash of good and evil will be displaced by an endless life of unbroken joy.

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Death will no longer exist

If God will put an end to evil, He will also put an end to death—probably the most distressing manifestation of sin. Not only will we live forever, but we will live the only kind of life worth living forever. An immortal body will bear us into an eternity without decay and ruin. It is incredible to think that some people, those who will be alive at Christ’s return—maybe you and me—will never taste death. Equally amazing is the fact that Christ will resurrect those who believed in Him and grant them eternal life in a body that is not subject to age, sickness and decay. “Listen, I tell you a mystery:” wrote the apostle Paul, “we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. . . . then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:51–54).

I will live with Jesus

As much as I value all of the above, they are shadowed by the top reason why I look forward to Jesus’ second coming: the prospect of meeting Him and spending time in His presence. This is why one of my favorite Bible verses is His beautiful promise of comfort: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. . . . My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1–3). I cherish dwelling with Jesus over all of the above because all of the above are possible thanks to Him. And if Jesus promises me an endless life without loss, fear, separation, suffering, or death—a life full of joy and love and abundance, then He is someone in whose presence I will be the happiest I could ever be.

The future in our present

It’s fascinating how much an upcoming experience can alter one’s life. As I imagine what it will be like to stand on the shore of Moraine Lake, I feel like in some way I am already there. The certainty of a future event allows us to live that event mentally—over and over again—before it takes place in reality. It also affects how we live the present, like carving out time for preparations. You may have experienced this while you prepared for the birth of your baby, or your wedding day, or some other highly anticipated event. Just as my trip to Banff changes my present, so is my anticipation of Jesus’ return influencing how I live before this event. It gives me purpose, joy and a deep desire to be more like the only God who has ever made such incredible promises.     

 

Adelina Alexe is a Systematic Theology student at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. She loves God and enjoys nature, arts and meaningful conversations.