If you grew up like me you might have rapture anxiety and you probably thought you were alone
Let‘s talk a little bit about rapture anxiety.
Some of y’all probably read that phase and laughed but for those of you who grew up in evangelical circles knew exactly what I’m talking about, even if you’ve never heard the phrase before.
I grew up going to a medium sized offshoot Pentecostal congregation that aspired to be a mega church. There was constant talk about the end of days, that the youth were being raised up as an “army of god”, and someday soon the world would be consumed by fire.
There is a long history of apocalyptic theology and it’s dangers throughout history. But the Pentecostal tent revivals took it to the next level. However, nothing did more damage than the Left Behind series. These books romanticized the idea of the end of days in a way that had never been done before.
It made it a game.
It did not help that during this time Y2K was swirling as this existential threat to society. The theory was that computers had not properly been coded to handle the change into 2000 and that the grid would crash at midnight 1999. All computers would bug out then chaos. Electricity would cease, water would stop flowing, the nuclear power plants would melt down, there would be fighting in the streets over food.
In other words: the apocalypse.
All of this combined into a dangerous cocktail that resulted in fetishizing the idea of Christians being absolved and removed from the destruction of the end.
In reality, it promoted the idea that Christians were absolved from responsibility for the world they helped create and destroy.
Climate change, who cares! Throw another bottle out the window. The war on drugs? Guess they should make better life choices. Global policing? At least it’s keeping the problem off my front lawn. The world’s problems aren’t my problems because I’m not “of this world” and at some point Jesus is going to zap me out of it and everyone else will be stuck in this filth.
I dealt with tremendous fear and anxiety growing up. Fear that I wouldn’t be good enough. I wouldn’t make the cut and my family would leave to be with God and I would be left to fend for myself with the other godless sinners.
But then a friend helped shift my mindset and release me from my fears. He pointed out that when Jesus was asked how we are to pray he said, “this, then, is how you should pray” and then encourages us to ask God to let their kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In other words: let earth be like heaven.
The church got so far off track. We weren’t called to abandon the world but to heal it. This wasn’t God’s garbage bin! It is a beautiful garden that we were left to tend for a while.
We weren’t called to try and figure out our escape and everyone else be damned! We were designed to be the answer to prayer: heal the sick, visit the orphans and widows, provide for those in need, and set the captives free.
Our responsibility is here.
The evangelical world I grew up in taught escapism instead of personal responsibility. Preached disassociation instead of community. They constantly changed the rules instead of showing us that we were free and loved by grace.
Last year I had a bit of a spiritual experience. A book came to me suddenly. It was like the entire thing just downloaded into my brain and I had to get it out. I wrote for nearly 24 hours solid and knocked out over 30,000 words. I’ve never experienced anything like it.
It was rough and needed a lot of work. It wasn’t some word of prophecy like I had seen happen growing up. It was raw and unpolished and needed to be tended. But there was something there. So I chiseled at it and polished it.
What came out of this work was something I’ve described as the antidote to the Left Behind books. It’s not a story about the good folks disappearing and a world in destruction. It’s the tale of how there are no perfect people, we all need a little grace, and that this world is our responsibility. That we all have a direct call to care about the world around us and those who share it as our neighbors.
My novel, The Miracle, is already beginning to touch hearts and minds in ways I could not have even imagined. I am so honored that my process of healing has brought some healing to others.
Decades have been lost worrying about how and when and why the world will end and who will be saved and who will be damned. Somewhere we missed the mark because Jesus told us, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Let’s worry about the troubles of our day and do the best we can to alleviate them. We’ve all got a beautiful part to play in the redemption of the world, not its destruction.
We can be The Miracle.
Nathan Monk is the author of Chasing the Mouse, Charity Means Love, and his first novel The Miracle is out now. You can also support his writing through Patreon here.