Last week, in the days leading up to Saturday’s non-rapture event, my less-than-charitable self took great delight in imagining that some of the self-styled “true believers” I know would get whisked up, up, and away. You know the people I mean—those who think they have locks on The One True Religion. They can be real pains in the neck—all their certitude, all their self-righteousness, all their judgments about others. “Good-bye, good-bye,” I would cheerily call out to them as their insufferable selves lifted off into the heavens leaving the rest of us here on earth to carry on with the messy business of trying to love one another.
As you can see, it is sometimes easy for me to scoff at people whose readings of the Bible are so very different from mine. And to be certain, self-righteous, and judgmental myself!
But this week, I find I’m not scoffing so much. Although I have never waited for this thing folks call the rapture to happen on a specific date, I have had experiences of putting my trust in someone or something—sometimes with God’s name invoked in the process—only to have that someone or something fail to live up to my expectations of all the glorious ways it would change me or my life. Things as small as a book, a diet, a weekend workshop. Things as large as a job or a move. Things as complex as marriage, divorce, or friendship. Things as deeply human as hopes held for, or by, a parent, a trusted teacher, or a child.
And sometimes I have been the one whose promises failed others.
This week, as I think about the people who truly believed that the apocalypse would begin on May 21, I wonder, how they are coping. Are they disappointed? angry? confused? Do they feel embarrassed? foolish? betrayed? Are they still believers, having found some way to rationalize or re-frame the rapture that did not come? Have they plunged into despair? Will they ever trust or be trusted again?
Perhaps we are not so different after all, they and I. Despite our divergent beliefs, we have things in common. Our humanity, for one, including our hopes as well as our failings.
We also have in common our yearning to be beloved of God—and our desire for the grace to hear and respond to God’s call. Sometimes we are misguided or miss the mark. Lord, have mercy. But we are still in this world together. Perhaps we can learn from one another—and begin again.