Monday, March 7, 2011

Royalty Returns

The Boss is back in town.

Not Springsteen; think store manager back from a week’s vacation. Frankly, I missed her. Far from brown-nosing, that statement is rather an admission of weakness on my part - I simply need to know there’s someone in charge. While I doubt I’ve ever said more than a sentence or two to the lady in passing, I like the fact that I see her frequently during my shifts as she walks the store, straightening stock, talking to department heads, and pushing before her a cart of trash and misplaced goods she’s pulled off the shelves. The fact that I do a better job when she’s around stems less from the fear of a poor performance review than a sense of relief in knowing that there’s a hand on the wheel, someone visibly steering the ship.

So now the store boss is back and the church boss is gone. Again my heart sank when we were reminded at a recent meeting that it was time for his annual family vacation. Never would I begrudge my hard-working spiritual leaders a minute of their well-deserved rest, and surely they never leave town without covering every detail of their absence with people who will wonderfully fill their shoes for a couple of days. Truly my pastor’s heart never leaves, even if his body craves those “times of refreshing” to be found in a boat on a lake with a fishing pole stuck in his hand. And willingly have he and his wife at times cut short their time away to stand by the side of those who have lost a loved one or to visit the bedside of someone who is critically ill. But it’s said that nothing calms an anxious bunch of sheep like the sight of the shepherd walking among them, and you know you’ve got a good one when your fleece-covered heart feels that same kind of peace at your pastors’ return.

So how much more do we miss Jesus, the Shepherd of our souls, in His absence? Not that He’s really gone, of course, as His Spirit dwells lovingly and powerfully in the hearts of His followers. But 2000 years is a long time to be physically absent from the planet. Surprisingly, His promised return and the timing of that event have been much in the conversations surrounding me in recent weeks. There’s a stirring in the spiritual realm that is quickening the hearts of believers, turning our spiritual eyes to the skies. But it’s provoking a response in unbelievers, as well.

The subject came up between two customers in my checkout lane at the grocery store last week, a conversation that ended with one man angrily declaring that he didn’t believe Jesus was ever going to return. He’d been hearing such talk all his life and had yet to see any evidence of the fact. He was done with the whole subject. Yet there were others involved in similar conversations who had a very different reaction, one which prompted them to ask more questions of other people and make life-changing decisions based on the answers they received.

I heard my supervisor at work ask one of the assistant managers yesterday if there was anything else we needed to do to prepare for the store manager’s return. And it’s a question we should be asking ourselves, spiritually, as well. Is it just a coincidence that the news these days is full of people in one country after another choosing who will have the rule over them, as long-held dictatorships and national powers are threatened or overturned? Could it be a warning, perhaps, or at the very least, a reminder that on a personal level we each face the same choice today?

The store manager is back today, my pastor’s coming back next week… and Jesus? We simply don’t know, but all signs point to His returning soon. While I’m quick to welcome back a company executive or a spiritual guide, Jesus is coming back as King.

Be ready when He comes.

“…choose ye this day whom ye will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
(Joshua 24:15 KJV, emphasis mine)

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