Doomsday

It was somewhere between Alaska and Manila, last March 31, when I first learned that the world is (supposedly) going to end tomorrow.

“I was looking at you since we were waiting to board and I felt God told me to give this to you,” an old woman told me. She, a Filipina, a grandmother to two young children who she left in their seats in the Eva Air plane, probably mustered all the courage in her tiny frame to talk to me. “I don’t usually do this,” she said, “but I just had to talk to you.”

The next thing I knew, she handed me some sheets of paper, photocopied. I stole a quick glance at it, read several key words and Bible references, and volunteered the information,

“Oh, I’m also a Christian.”

This should save her the effort of trying to win me over to God’s side with her 3-point spiel on how people can get to heaven. Not that I would have minded but I thought it would be better to stop her that early from preaching to the choir.

We engaged in small talk and I told her about how I also help produce reading materials for people, I working for a Christian publishing company. She, on the other hand, spends most of her time looking after her grandkids while her daughter and son-in-law are away at work. Since she stays home for most of the time, she found a wonderful preoccupation: watching TV.

It is on TV that she stumbled upon the Family Radio ministry. She’d religiously (pun intended) watch their program, which ran 24/7, and attributed her growing knowledge of God to it. If I had a time machine then and could’ve fast-forwarded to at least seven weeks, I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear what she told me.

May 21, 2011. The world expires. Good-bye to life.

My first reaction was alarm. Oh no! She is misguided. Nobody knows when Jesus is coming again. He Himself said that only the Father knows.

Then it was my turn to speak. As lovingly as I could, I shared with her how no human being can speak so authoritatively about such things. Yes, I love God, I believe the Bible and I am sure that yes, this present world will end someday. And yes, there is heaven to look forward to. But there is absolutely nobody who can mark the end of the world in any calendar. Many have tried, but failed.

With a will firmly set as a flint, she did not buckle and insisted, gently though, that I read the photocopied material that explained why 2011 calendars should only have five months. I accepted it but not without doing my own pleading,

“I will pray for you. And if we reach May 22, would you please reconsider your beliefs?”

She paused for a moment and smiled. I smiled back and said thanks. With concern in my heart my eyes were fixed on her as she made her way back to her seat.

How interesting this up-in-the-air conversation had been.

I don’t have harsh words to say about her and other doomsayers. Many of them are sincere about what they believe in or else they wouldn’t risk being labeled as nuts as they boldly announce to whoever has ten seconds to spare what is going to happen to the world.

Are they brave? Or just foolish? Should I feel disdain towards them for propagating what they think is the truth or should I feel compassion instead and allow this feeling to spur me towards loving people no matter what their size, shape, color, or religious inclination?

It is easier to be smug, sit with the Pharisees and watch other people fall into their own destruction. Aside from doomsday preachers, I’m talking about people around us who are stubbornly heading towards the wrong road. Don’t we silently wish we’d have a taste of the delicious satisfaction of being able to say someday, “Hah, you deserved that, foolish you. I told you God will come and get you. See?! “ I might not have verbalized these words to anybody but I have recited these words, again and again, when my only audience is myself. Yet I want to purge these ugly words from my heart, the poison of condemnation from my lips. I may never be on their side in the case of circumventing the truth or their deliberately turning a blind eye to what God’s word says is right but it doesn’t mean I should stop loving them.

Oh, Lord, how hard!

I’m really hoping the world doesn’t end tomorrow. Because I need more than a day to change and strip out of this robe I am wearing, and love people—really love them—better.

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