Bible classes at my private school encouraged our imaginations to run wild, and what started out as a pre-teen fascination and curiosity about Biblical prophecy soon turned into an intense phobia.
Youth group films that illustrated our bizarre ideas only inflated our fears. Our teachers never applied systematic theology; in fact, we never even opened a Bible. Just pure scare tactics from the good ol’ Fire and Life Insurance Agency. For me this turned into a life-altering fear.
I never dreamed fear could grow roots like it did. By the time I was a teenager, I was afraid to listen to the news or read the newspaper for fear that I would see more “signs” of "the end.” I became afraid of technology; even barcodes terrified me (I was told these were the mark of the Beast).
I couldn’t watch movies that were “futuristic” or apocalyptic in nature. I became so fearful that I had a hard time enjoying life at all. Sunny days were gloomy to me, as everything reminded me of my impending doom. This fear was a weed and the roots had grown so long and deep that they became entangled in every part of my life. When I tried to pull it out, it would break and grow back later.
I was aware of what eschatological (or “last things”) beliefs could do. A lot of other Christians I knew weren’t as afraid as me — some of them believed in the rapture. They welcomed the bad news and rejoiced in the evil condition of the world, because it meant that we would get whipped out of here faster. However, my church taught that Christians were most likely going to go through a terrifying “tribulation,” where we would deal with the persecution of “the Antichrist,” and most of us would wind up dead or wishing we were.
What about my kids?
By the time I got married, I was finally starting to vocalize this fear. A year later when we brought our first child home from the hospital, I should have felt pure joy. Instead, I felt tremendous guilt and sorrow. How could we be so cruel as to have a child who would have to endure this future tribulation?
The world was so evil and it would only get worse. If the rapture wasn’t real, our poor child would have to deal with the Antichrist. I was a brand new mom and felt as though I had already failed. This might sound silly to some, but it was very real for me.
Breaking the chains
I was pregnant with our second child when I was given two books that changed my life LAST DAYS MADNESS: OBSESSION OF THE MODERN CHURCH by Gary DeMar, and PARADISE RESTORED: A BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF DOMINION by David Chilton. My fear had grown so bad that just reading the chapter titles gave me waves of adrenaline. However, I made myself read one page at a time, one Scripture at a time. I started to realize immediately the power that was over me for so long: lack of biblical education and bad theology. Could it be as simple as that?
I read on. Slowly, one chain broke after another. I can honestly say as a lifelong Christian, I had never been free until I understood eschatology (the study of “last things”) in its proper form. With so many years of thinking “the end” was in my future, I had developed some real triggers, some that I still deal with today. Now I'm able to neutralize them almost immediately by applying study of the Scriptures.
I also started to understand Christ’s authority and the spiritual and practical implications of that. What kind of wimpy Jesus was I serving all this time? What should we expect in the future? Why build anything? Why have children? Why get involved in things like politics, education, and anything else in the “world”?
Things started to make a lot of sense when I realized that I had been reading John 3:16 as though it said “For God so loved the sinner that he gave his one and only Son.…”
But really, God so loved the kosmos: all of his creation. His plan of redemption includes the entire created order. Romans 8:19-22 says that “all of creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.” Until God’s stewards welcome Christ and apply his laws and principles into every sphere of life, the kosmos will continue to groan as Romans describes.