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Watching Attentively for Christ’s Return


Do you ever read to the bottom of a page and then double back to the top after realizing you didn’t absorb any of it? Or have you ever been at the wheel of a car and encountered the unsettling realization that you’ve been rather inattentive while driving? If so, then you are familiar with the phenomenon known as “zoning out.” It’s a frequent occurrence for many of us. The trouble with zoning out is that you can easily miss important information.
We often think of Advent as the season of preparation for the Messiah’s birth, but adjacent to this is another important Advent theme: watching for Christ’s return. Jesus Himself describes this watching, “It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning.” (Mark 13:34-35) His point is obvious, isn’t it? Our Master, Jesus, is coming back. His return could easily come tomorrow, or even later today!
Are you zoning out?
As you watch for that day, do you ever find yourself zoning out? There’s no Advent calendar counting down the twenty-five days to Judgment Day; preparation for Christ’s return might be easy to let slip. Jesus tells us, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. . . . Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:36, 44) We all know how quickly Christmas can sneak up on us when we still have shopping to do, and Christmas falls on the same day every year! So on Judgment Day—a day not circled on your calendar—when Jesus returns, will He find us watching and waiting? Or zoned out and unprepared?
This Advent season, as you look back and watch the familiar nativity narrative unfold once more, do not neglect to also look forward and watch for Christ’s re-arrival. As you watch the signs unfolding in the world around you, realize that for you these are signs of life! Jesus isn’t returning to catch you unprepared; He is returning to catch you up to heaven! For the Christian, there is no fear in Judgment Day.
I’ve read various articles that seek to improve your attention skills. It is suggested that to avoid regularly zoning out you ought to
1) remove distractions,
2) take frequent breaks, and
3) be mindful of the position of your body.
We ought to make use of these suggestions as we watch for Christ’s return as well.
1) Take note of things in your life that threaten to supplant God’s Word, and put them in their proper place.
2) Set time aside daily to find rest in the life-giving words of the Savior Who was born to take your burdensome load away.
3) Drop to your knees in repentance before your God, clinging to His cross and the assurance of forgiveness which He promised you through it.
Because of Him, watching for Christ’s return is now pure joy, like watching a morning sunrise. As you see the glow of Judgment Day on the horizon, rejoice! It will be for you the sunrise of eternal day.
Samuel Rodebaugh is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Winter Haven, Florida.