How I Know My World Will End on May 21st

One evening during junior high, I arrived home from playing at the creek with some friends only to discover that no one was home. Mom and Dad were gone. Sisters, gone. The sun was setting, and I was starting to worry.

Where did everyone go? I wandered back through the house again, walked around back, checked in the garage – no one.

Everyone had simply vanished.

* * * * *

I was not a normal child.

Take my fears, for example. Most kids are scared of the dark, or thunderstorms, or the bogey man. But not me – I wanted my room as dark as possible at night, and I sat out on the front porch to watch even the most violent of summer storms. As for the bogey man, well, I could take him or leave him.

This is not to say that I had no fears – only that my fears were not those of ordinary children. For example, one of my greatest fears can be summed up in two words:

The Rapture.

As a child I was taught that some day God will take all of the believers from the earth in one giant snatching motion – one minute they are here, the next they’re gone. Much in the way I pick out all the red Skittles, only faster and with less deliberation (I vacillate between the reds and the purples – God will apparently show no such hesitation). When this takes place, and if you’re not a Christian, you’d better hope to God you’re not on a plane with two Christian pilots, or in a taxi with a Christian cabdriver, or bungee jumping with a Christian bungee cord. Because all those Christians will vanish, while the world descends into chaos.

Or something like that.

So when I arrived home that day to an empty house, I knew it had finally happened. The Rapture had taken place, and I was left behind (if only I would have taken those two words and written a series of end-times novels, I would be living it up in Rio right now).

* * * * *

One afternoon last week I arrived home and Maile handed me an envelope. The address was handwritten to “The Smucker Family.” The sender was from Texas. Huh, I thought to myself, this looks like fun.

I opened it and discovered that the very people who are predicting the end of the world in a few days, the very people I had disagreed with on Twitter, had taken the time to find my address and mail me a series of tracts and handwritten warnings that the end was nigh.

And you know what? I am okay with that.

Because Jesus wants my world to end every day.

My world of putting me first.

My world of obsessions and addictions and hatred.

My world of judging and abusing and belittling.

There’s a world of things that needs to end. To me, May 21st sounds as good a day to start that process as any other.

“Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out.” (1 Cor 7:31 MSG)

What worlds of yours need to come to an end?

What do you think about the world ending on May 21, 2011?

17 Replies to “How I Know My World Will End on May 21st”

  1. They sent you stuff … that’s funny.
    I think you can expect an RV convoy to show up sometime this week. Which would be really funny … plus give you plenty of blog material :)

  2. My world of Me First definitely needs to come to a swift end.

    And as for the predicted-by-some May 21st date for the end of the world, well, it could be these peoples’ hearts are totally in the right place (wanting to get the Gospel message out there before it’s too late) but their methods are messed up. I mean, if Jesus said *He* didn’t know (and He is literally God’s right hand man), then who are we to think we can figure it out?

  3. I must, on a daily basis, surrender the world of me. Thanks for sharing this story from your childhood, it made me smile :)

  4. Wasn’t expecting you to go there with this. Nice. Being engaged and all, I am seeing how lots of things, little and big, need to die so I can put her first. I should be able to have it all figured out by the wedding right?

  5. I will be flying to Chicago on May 21st. I guess I will meet freinds and family in the air.

  6. I like this way of working with what you’re handed. :) I need to do that more often, rather than fight it. The nice thing about endings is they signal beginnings, which can be just as scary as the end of something, but also infinitely more hopeful. I’ll be thinking about those new beginnings as I think about what worlds of mine need to end.

    (And you never told us where your family went that night! Did going through that scary moment change you?)

  7. Clearly, I needed to hear this today. My world of wishing something could be real when it is now – that needs to end.

    Thanks, Shawn. . . and if that RV that Janet predicts pulls up, I expect some great stories.

  8. “Because Jesus wants my world to end every day.”

    I know I’ve mentioned this before, but every so often, you say something that is Christian but also so Zen Buddhist you make me wonder if you’re doing it on purpose.

  9. 1. I think Jesus wants me to wrap up my world of spending money. We’re in negotiations.

    2. I think Jesus loves us enough to end the world on a regular work day for most people. So definitely not a Saturday.

  10. Well said :) & just what I needed to hear. You are right, a lot of change can come if we take this weekend to start anew. Thank you!

  11. Love the turn you took there, Shawn! Thanks for the reminder, because as an introvert, it’s altogether too easy for me to get caught up in my own thing.

  12. I’m here via Wow, what a great post, Shawn! And, you were right! :) I like your writing style and the perspective you put on the end of our world. What great food for thought!

  13. Checking out your post by way of Clay @ and I’m glad I did. Wonderful point of view on the subject of the rapture, I think maybe your thoughts on putting an end to our ‘me-mentality’ is what Jesus meant by ‘keeping watch’ (Matt. 25:13), keeping our focus on having a servant’s heart, living a life of sacrificial love, not the Henny Penny sky-is-falling, you better watch out fear-mongering that many have made of the rapture doctrine. Thanks for helping me think about it more purposefully!

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