The week began last Sunday with a prophecy conference at our church. The speaker was Jimmy DeYoung of the Day of Discovery program, and he was very interesting and informative. He preached the Sunday morning service, and then two hours each on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights. We attended every service. He believes that church will be raptured, the tribulation will take place over the next seven years, Christ will return, He will reign for 1000 years, then the existing heaven and earth will be destroyed and replaced with the new heaven and the new earth. He says that every prophecy leading up to the rapture has been fulfilled, and that the rapture could take place at any moment. Now, I am no theologian, and I know there are many schools of thought on this subject. There are the pre-, the post-, and the a-millenialists. I have always considered myself a "pan-millenialist"...I think it'll all pan out in the end. I have never been all that concerned about the end times, because I know that God is in control. No matter what I think about it, what's going to happen is going to happen according to His perfect timetable. But there are two things I came away with from this prophecy conference.
1. Time for a bit of honesty...Over the years, I've heard many end-times type sermons where the speaker says that the rapture could happen anytime. And I would listen, and I knew that the "Sunday School" response was, "Yes...Come Lord Jesus!", but deep down I would think, "I hope it's not too soon. After all, I want to graduate from high school/finish college/get married/have kids/see my kids grow up/have grandkids, etc." But not this time. My attachment to life here has gotten sooo much looser, and I would welcome the rapture at absolutely any moment...I can now say with enthusiasm, "Come, Lord Jesus!"
2. If our time on earth is indeed short (and it is, even if the rapture doesn't happen for another 1,000 years!), then we need to be about God's business. Brad and I are feeling a greater and greater urgency to share the testimony God has given us over the past two years. We feel that He has given us a story to tell through Hannah's storm, and we want to be faithful to do that. Up until now, we have not actively pursued opportunities to speak...we have just accepted the opportunities that have been offered to us. We are prayerfully considering now how we might begin to be more proactive in that area. Our pastor told us that when we reach the point where we feel we are wasting time on Sundays when we're not sharing at a church, that's a sign that we need to be seeking opportunities. We are rapidly reaching that point. Please pray with us as we seek guidance in this area.
So that was Sunday through Tuesday of this week (I told you this was going to be a long post)! On Wednesday night, we were blessed with the opportunity to share our testimony with the youth of Glen Rose Missionary Baptist Church, about 20 minutes from our home. It was a great evening, and although I left early to attend my friend's husband's visitation, Brad and Bethany were able to stay and visit with several of the young people and the pastor's family there.
Thursday was the state track meet for 3A high schools. Bethany had qualified for state high jump competition by placing second in the district meet. This was a big accomplishment, as she is just a freshman. We worked most of the day, then headed to Prescott to watch the competition. Most of the other jumpers were juniors and seniors, so we were very proud of Bethany when she placed fifth by jumping 4'10". Only two girls cleared 5'0" (the winning jump was 5'4"), but Bethany had several "misses", which dropped her to fifth. I wish I could claim the picture below, but it was taken by someone on our school yearbook staff...and wasn't actually taken at the state track meet...I just wanted to add a little visual aid to this part of the post. My feeble attempts to photograph Bethany jumping have been complete failures, so I've given up!
After watching the high jump competition, we drove up to Brad's brother's house in Arkadelphia, where we hurriedly changed clothes before heading to Ouachita Baptist University. Thursday night was OBU's academic awards banquet, and we were on the program to present the Hannah Sullivan memorial scholarship. This was potentially a highly emotional and difficult event for us, knowing that Hannah would have been enrolling as a freshman at OBU this fall. We were met there by a young lady named Keisha from the development office, who served as our companion for the evening. She is a cancer survivor who was diagnosed just a month after Hannah. I had a wonderful time visiting with her (you can read more about her story at www.bigpittstop.blogspot.com if you like). It's interesting how quickly you can bond with someone who has experienced a cancer journey similar to yours. And then, as we entered the serving line, we were introduced to the recipient of Hannah's scholarship, and the evening continued to brighten up. We don't have anything to do with the recipient selection process, and until that moment we didn't know who had been selected. But as we met Brandi Hughes and her husband Matt, we were amazed by their story, and I'm going to share a little bit of it (with their permission).
They are from Malvern, our neighboring town, and Brandi is a student at OBU, planning to be a science teacher. While she's been going to school, Matt has been working on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico...yes, that oil platform...the one that exploded a couple of weeks ago and is now producing the huge oil slick. He told us a harrowing tale of explosions and flames and falling 90 feet from the platform into the ocean. He sustained some rather severe injuries in the fall, and is currently wheelchair bound, although a full recovery is expected. He freely spoke of his faith and how God was with him on that hellish night. Just another example of how fragile life is, and how everything can change in a single moment. We felt so privileged to be able to give a scholarship in Hannah's memory to this couple.
And that brings us to last night, when I laid on this very couch, watched a dvr'd episode of Monk and read my book. My idea of a perfect evening after a week full of activities, but also full of blessings.
So maybe this wasn't my longest post ever...but I think it's close!