Scared to Death of the Rapture

When my dad and my childhood pastor talked about my salvation, I didn’t want to disappoint, so I told them I had asked Jesus into my heart in my bedroom. I was baptized in Mount Olive Baptist Church in Girard, Kansas. My baptism, however, was a farce. The only thing I had accomplished was to “turn over a new leaf”. More or less in those words. I didn’t want to beat my brother up anymore so I prayed one night to literally turn over a new leaf and start being nicer to him. The night my dad asked me about salvation, I counted this as the shining moment. I was baptized soon after, and that’s about the time the nightmares started.

I don’t remember how many of them I had, but I remember many nights when I would wake up after a bad dream. I remember one in particular. I was in my bedroom on the 2nd floor of our house looking out the window and down below, I saw a giant spider. The spider was Christ. How I knew that in the dream, I don’t know, but somehow I just knew that the spider was Christ coming back. But I also knew that I hadn’t disappeared like everyone else. I got down on my knees and prayed for God to take me, but when I opened my eyes, the spider was still there, and so was I. The point of that dream, which was clear as day to me, was that Christ had come, and I was still there, in my bedroom, where I had claimed to have accepted Christ.

After that, I lived a life of fear. I feared coming home and my mom not being there. One day I got off the bus alone and no one was at the house. I screamed for my mom, thinking that she had been taken to heaven and my brothers with her. I was so scared. She came home a few minutes later, having not heard my screaming because of the wind. She and my younger siblings had taken our dogs for a walk.

Then there was the inevitable hand-raising at church. The pastor would ask if anyone had not accepted Christ as their savior, and I would start debating in my mind. I would replay the message over and over in my head. Did I hear him right? Did he ask for people who were saved to raise their hands? Should I raise mine? What if he said that he wanted those who hadn’t been saved to raise their hands? I didn’t know what to do as a boy.

I was also scared to be farming with my dad. I knew the verses in Matthew about two being in the field, one taken, and the other left behind. If my dad’s tractor would go over a hill and disappear from sight, my heart rate would pick up substantially until he came back into sight.

Why…why did I live a life of such fear? Why did I put myself through that? Why did it take me until high school to truly accept Christ? The fact is that I was scared. Sometimes I was scared of disappointing my family, or others, if they learned that I had lied. I was scared that God might not love me if I admitted that I had lied to Him. I was scared that it just wouldn’t work out. And unfortunately, I wasn’t sure just who God was. I suffered a lot of pain and fear needlessly because I didn’t want to disappoint people as a little boy.

A fairly competent writer whose name I forget now wrote that these fears are a sound reason for ditching the theology of the rapture. I think that's hogwash. Just because my childhood pastor didn't really follow up with me too well doesn't mean the rapture isn't going to happen. If you struggle with fear, and believe in the rapture, just understand that once you know your salvation is secure there is nothing to be afraid of.

9 comments:

Jo Jo Jones said...

I know the fear factor. Mine was different. The preacher preached so hard about Jesus' return at any moment, that when a storm come through that Sunday evenin, and the sky was red, I just knew Jesus was fixin to crack the sky. Lol. I believe in the rapture, but not the popular teachings. Good blog brother.

Dan Smith said...

Thank you for the compliment and the comment! I was so terrified back then. It was crazy. I also still believe in the rapture, but like you, I'm not as into it and I certainly don't use it to scare people. Hopefully those days are over.

Rune Hellerslia said...

Perfect love drives out fear! We are called to fear God, not by human fear, but with reverence and humility. Nice post and thanks for your service to this country!

Dan Smith said...

Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it very much! Yes, you are right. Fearing God is not necessarily to life a life afraid of Him, but to understand his awesomeness. I'm grateful that I don't have to live in fear today.

boilt frog said...

The post deals with two issues: "decisionism" (as some call it) and the pre-millennial, pre-tribulation rapture.

Review the common techniques of modern evangelism. Which ones have biblical basis? How much is well-meaning emotional manipulation? Why the emphasis on decision?

It is interesting that you use "accept" when referring to receiving Christ. This word is part of the decision emphasis. "Accept" implies that believing comes before regeneration. This is not a mere theological nuance. This is a major issue. What is the order of salvation? What is the state of unregenerate man? What is his ability to respond to the gospel? The answers to these questions affect methods, and lives. The answers answer the third question in your sixth paragraph.

The rapture question is part of the larger issue of eschatology. Do we look for signs of something that will occur without warning? There is a huge industry devoted to this. It suffered a setback in 1988, but it has not been Left Behind. It did quite well.

Bad soteriology plus bad eschatology equals misery. You are right, personal experiences are not sound reasons for ditching this view of the rapture. Truth is independent of experience.

Dan Smith said...

I know that a good Calvinist could never believe that an unbeliever would ever "accept" Christ, and I confess I used language that betrayed my dispensational upbringing.

Do we look for signs? I don't personally, although I've written a little about North Korea as it relates to the "wars and rumors of war." The fact is that we do know that it will come "as a thief in the night."

Honestly, I'm much better at mentoring believers than leading unbelievers into the fellowship. I've done it, and some have been fruitful, but not many. I need to study soteriology more.

boilt frog said...

what is the link to the N. Korea material?

The problem with signs is not knowing if the ones you see are the ones you need to see. Witness modern Israel and my 1988 reference. Even if we say that Israel is to be restored, we still have the problem of when and in which iteration. Is this the one? How do we know?

Wars and rumors of wars does not necessarily mean more wars and rumors. This could be interpreted as business as usual. The preterist school views Revelation as mostly Rome's defeat of Israel. Post-mil and some amill follow this thought.

Dan Smith said...

The link to North Korea is: http://www.navychristian.org/2010/11/north-korea-and-rapture.html

Yes, of course the question becomes what you've asked. There's no way that I would know which signs are real and which ones are status quo. I remember growing up with the 1988 promise, although I was young, and my parents/grandparents wondering if they had calculated it wrong as far as a generation was.

We'll never know when the rapture is going to come until it comes. Still, it's an interesting and somewhat fun discussion.

Chris Gagner @ PrayBuddy said...

A friend & I were just discussing this the other day. He has been fearful over the question "What if I'm not good enough?" I gently explained to him that my peace comes from knowing that I'm NOT good enough! Christ died for me that through faith I could be saved. I'm secure in knowing that the Lord has saved me due to putting my hope in Christ and not myself.