“Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of prophecy in this book. …Yes, I am coming soon!” Revelation 22:7,20a

It’s Advent again! Isn’t it uplifting and joyous? Advent means coming, and during Advent we mark three comings:  Jesus’ coming to earth as a baby in Bethlehem, his coming into our hearts through the gift of faith, and his final and glorious coming on Judgment Day.

When I read the passage above, it struck me as appropriate for contemplation during these short weeks before Christmas. I pray your heart’s focus may—for just a moment, perhaps—be shifted from your busy Christmas preparations to your preparation for Jesus’ second coming, or your own personal judgment day, the day of your death.

People are reluctant to think or talk about death. After all, physical death is one of the consequences of sin—that first sin in Eden and our own personal sins. Dying can be an agonizing experience. But physical death itself should not terrify us nor cause us to avoid preparing for it. After all, for the Christian, physical death is the gateway to heaven, the goal of our faith! We cannot even begin to conceive what heaven is like! Instead of fearing or ignoring death and Judgment Day, let us look at what they mean.

Jesus’ second coming will bear no resemblance to his first—no, he will not be a weak baby in a barn! He will come as King and Judge, with angels and heavenly armies, with trumpet sounds, with all the glory and might of the one true God! For unbelievers, this will be horrifying—all people will finally acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, that their own “righteous” acts do them no good, that their punishment is eternal and unbearable. No wonder people avoid talk of death!

But believers will have no fear! There will be nothing but shouts of joy! Songs of glory! Dancing and rejoicing! Finally, there will be an end to all sickness, sorrow, hunger, loneliness, boredom, frustration, anger, tears: all these will be gone, and we will enter into the heavenly realms with our Savior God and live in his presence forever!

What assures you that you are prepared for Jesus’ second coming? It’s very simple—it does not depend on you. It depends on almighty God. You are prepared for Judgment Day or your own death because Jesus has done it all. He lived perfectly in our place; he died the death we deserved; he rose in glory to prove his payment was complete. By God’s grace, the Holy Spirit gave you faith in Jesus’ work of salvation. By God’s grace, you repent of your sins and trust in his forgiveness. By God’s grace, you know you are on the path to heaven.

But what about the billions living in spiritual darkness? As you light your Advent candles, string your Christmas lights, and enjoy your neighborhood and city lights, remember—not everyone is prepared for Jesus’ second coming or their own death.

Let this weigh on your heart. Let it cause you to make a greater effort to be involved in evangelism and mission support. Let it move you to fervent prayer for the dying and for those who seek them with the gospel light. Enjoy your Advent and Christmas celebrations, but never forget that there is still much to do while it is day, before the night comes and no man can work.

Dear Jesus, how Mary and Joseph must have prepared for your birth! How grateful I am that you live in my heart! How gladly I look forward to living forever with you! Move me to support more vigorously those who seek the lost and help to bring them from the darkness of eternal death into your marvelous light! Amen.

Karla Jaeger, Spiritual Growth-Mission Awareness-Befriend A Mission Coordinator