Some jokes in the cafeteria started Oscar wondering when the Lord would return.
Laughter echoed through the cafeteria where a group of boys sat eating their lunch. One of them motioned for silence as he spoke mockingly, “Then there was the night Adrian Wilson’s dad was driving his car home and saw a bunch of bright lights in the sky. It scared him so much, he pulled over and started praying. He thought the Lord was coming—but he forgot that it was the Fourth of July!” This brought even further laughter from the group.
Oscar Lambert got to his feet and slipped quietly to the door. One of his buddies spied him and shouted, “Hey Lambert, what’s the matter? Did we scare you?”
Oscar shook his head. “Look . . . I just don’t think it’s anything to joke about, that’s all.”
Someone in the group groaned. “Oh, come on, sit down and finish your lunch. We’ll change the subject.” The rest of the boys quieted down with whispers of, “What’s bothering him anyway?”
Oscar shrugged his shoulders and went out the door into the crowded hallway. He felt sick inside. He couldn’t figure out why that one joke had upset him so much. I guess deep down inside I do believe that Jesus is coming back someday. And if He does, where will I be? he asked himself. If only he could get away to think about all this for a while. But he had three more classes that afternoon.
Two days went by, and Oscar found his thoughts going again and again to the scene in the lunch-room and the possibility that the Lord really would be coming . . . and maybe soon. Crunching through the snow on his way home from school that afternoon, he had a thought, Maybe I’ll call Grandma and Grandpa. They seem pretty close to God, and might have some answers.
Oscar’s grandparents were delighted when he called and offered to shovel the snow from their walk. “And why don’t you stay for supper, Oscar,” his grandma invited. “I’m fixing my special mac-n-cheese!”
Gathered around the kitchen table that night, the three of them visited and enjoyed mouth-watering macaroni and cheese. The meal was topped off with homemade apple crisp. Oscar hesitated for a moment, then cleared his throat. “Grandpa, when do you think the Lord is coming back? I mean . . . it’s supposed to be soon, isn’t it?”
His grandparents quickly glanced at each other, then his grandfather replied slowly. “Well, Oscar, just when that trumpet will sound, I don’t know. Even the angels themselves don’t know. God does though, you can be sure of that. And He has given us some clues as to when it will be.”
“Really?” Oscar was interested. “What kind of clues?”
Grandpa had reached for his Bible and was leafing through the pages of the Book of Matthew. “Oscar, Jesus told us that His return will be when we aren’t expecting it. Listen to this. In Matthew 24:44, it says, ‘Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.’”
“That’s strange.” Oscar was puzzled. “How does He expect people to be ready when they don’t know when He’s coming?”
Grandpa thought a moment. “I guess that’s how God knows His own. The people who are living for Him, and watching for Him—they are the ones who really love Him. They will be ready no matter when He comes! And the ones who don’t truly care about Him will not prepare for His coming, even though He has given them plenty of warnings. Jesus warns us in Mark 13:33, ‘Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.’”
Then Grandma spoke up. “Oscar, there’s a lot of prophecy in the Bible. Things have been coming to pass just as Jesus said they would in the last days. So it’s bound to be soon.” Her voice grew soft. “You know, your grandpa and I have been praying for you for a long time.”
As they talked about the end times and how the wrath of God would be poured out on those left on the earth, Oscar thought, Why am I kidding myself? The real question is not, When will the Lord return? but, Will I be ready when He does?
He finally choked out the words he had been wanting to say all evening, “Grandpa . . . I want to be ready. Will you pray with me?”