I was 12 years old when I attended childrenís church in a small United Brethren in Christ church near Meadville in northwestern Pennsylvania. I loved childrenís church for all the wrong reasons. Separation from a father who determined to make me toe the line was a relief. I was the kid every teacher would love to take behind the woodshed. I was the real deal when it came to causing trouble.
My teacherís name was Carolyn, she always smiled and hugged me when I came in the door and I knew she didnít mean it. I entered the Sunday School classroom in the basement of our church on one particular Sunday morning in the Spring of the year not knowing that I was about to learn something that would change my life. She took out the flannel graph and told us of an event that would happen in the future. I was spell-bound. I sponged up every word she said about the rapture. That morning I left that room fearing that I might be left behind because I knew my life was full of sin.
I went to school the next week and tried to forget about that silly Childrenís church lesson but I couldnít get it out of my mind.
On Friday of that week I was meandering on a path through the woods that led from Neason Hill Elementary School to my home. With my trumpet case in one hand and a load of books in the other, one mile felt like three. As I approached our white, two-story home on that April afternoon I looked over the hill beyond and saw the darkest cloud approaching Iíd ever seen. I heard distant thunder and saw lighting flashing in the cloud.
I picked up the pace and dashed to the house. What did I find when I got there? I found nothing. There was no one there. This was the first time Iíd come home to find it empty. The silence was deafening. I called out for my parents and my older brothers. No one replied. I felt a knot form in my throat. I knewÖ.oh, I just knew that the rapture had taken place and I had been left behind. I went out in the yard and called for our dog, Buster. Buster was always quick to meet me when I arrived from school but there was no sign of him. Can dogs be raptured also? I was all alone.
I began to form a plan for survival. I was going to have to live alone. I knew there was food in the refrigerator and the cupboards. I knew Dad had planted a garden and I knew Mrs. Henry has also planted a garden and she lived up on the hill. Now, Mrs. Henry was the holy, saintly mother figure in our church. She was old, very old. She had already outlived three husbands.
The thought of Ms. Henry brought hope to my heart. I stepped out in the yard and peered toward her house and I thought my heart would explode with joy. Ms. Henry was out working in her garden. That could only mean one thing. I hadnít been left behind. God would never, ever rapture his saints and leave Ms. Henry behind.
I didnít know where my family was but there was no possible way any one of them was going to be raptured ahead of a saint like Ms. Henry.
It seemed Ms. Henry lived to be about 100. When she died everyone knew she had a special place in heaven. Two things happened to me on that day: I wanted to know I was ready for Christís return and if I died before he returned I wanted to have lived a saintly life so that I could die in confidence and everyone would know that I had gone to heaven.
We recently commemorated the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Everyone knows about the Titanic but few people know about the Titan. Morgan Robertson wrote a short novel about an enormous passenger liner called Futility. The Titan was said to be unsinkable and it carried an insufficient number of lifeboats. In the month of April, the Titan, on its maiden voyage from South Hampton to New York, hits a mammoth iceberg and sinks in the North Atlantic.
Morgan Robertsonís novel and the actual event are not exactly the same. In Futility, the fictional ship, Titan, is 880 feet long. The actual Titanic was 882 feet long. The fictional Titan was able to displace 70,000 tons of water. The actual Titanic was able to displace 66,000 tons of water.
Why would Morgan Robertson go to the trouble of writing a fictional account of a real event and not take more care in the accuracy of the facts? It is because he didnít yet know what the facts were. The Titanic sunk on April the 19th, 1912. The book Futility was published in 1898. Morgan Robertson wrote his book 14 years before the sinking of the Titanic.
Is it amazing that a book 14 years ahead of its time could predict the events of the Titanic?
We have a book that tells us the future, not 14 years ahead of time, but thousands of years ahead of time. The Bible contains 2500 prophecies. Over 1/3 of it is prophetic. 2,000 of the biblical prophecies have been fulfilled to the letter with no errors. The remaining 500 prophecies extend into the future and they are being fulfilled rapidly as time progresses.
The Bible is 100% accurate in the fulfillment of its prophecies. One of the most amazing and exciting prophecies yet to be fulfilled is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. It is the one my childrenís church teacher, Carolyn, taught me about years ago, ďFor 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 forever.Ē
These words spawn joy and hope in the hearts of true believers throughout the world. We are to encourage each other with this great hope.