While it’s true that Jesus is coming soon, the real question is, are you waiting for Him? I can tell you with most certainty that I am. There are a lot of people out there who are wanting the Rapture to happen today, but they no more spend time with the Lord in prayer or His Word than they do attend and support their local church. We need to be people of our word, people of the Book, people of the Spirit. We need to be genuine Jesus’ people who are as in love with the Master as we are longing for his return. There are a lot of people who are wanting the Lord to return because they are tired or weary of this life (and for good reason), but they, themselves, are NOT ready to be received by Jesus because although they know of Jesus, they don’t know Jesus. I wrote an entire blog on this topic entitled The 50% Percent Theory, it’s an expose’ of the Parable of the Ten Virgins from Matthew 25:1-13; check it out.
One of the best stories that I’ve read about recently was of a group of people, a group of men, who were longing for their leader’s return; I am speaking of Sir Ernest Shackleton. I got this story from Dr. David Jeremiah’s latest book, After the Rapture, it’s a tactical guide for all of the ‘left behinders.’ I highly recommend it. This blog was inspired from chapter 7 of that book. I like to give credit to my sources and Pastor Jeremiah is a good man who loves the Lord and has written many books on the Christian faith and the soon return of the Lord.
The true story begins on Saturday, August 8, 1914, one week after Germany declared war on Russia. On that day 29 men set sail in a 3-masted wooden ship from Plymouth, England to Antarctica on a quest to become the first adventurers to cross the Antarctic continent on foot. Me thinks that these guys needed a job or girlfriend or a mortgage or something, but alas, they wanted to get out of Dodge as it were and sail away on an adventure.
Sir Ernest Shackleton had recruited the men through an advertisement that read: “Men Wanted for a Hazardous Journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.” I am thinking to myself, what kind of man would respond to a call like this? Then I was reminded that I answered the call to be a pastor in the early 80’s and have lived such a life adventure, suspense, uncertainty, and total faith in God. Shackleton was an honest man because as the story progressed, the men did experience all that the hand bill promised, and more. Shackleton was a capable leader and later proved to be a certified hero. His men came to refer to him as ‘the Boss,’ even though he never thought of himself that way. Shackleton was a humble servant leader with attributes much like that of the Apostle Paul. He worked alongside his men as hard as any of the crew members and he built a solid team unity aboard the ship, which was aptly named Endurance. This is the stuff good leadership books are made of.
In January 1915, the ship became entrapped in an ice pack and ultimately sank, leaving the men to set up camp on an ice floe, a flat, free floating slice of sea ice. Shackleton kept the men busy by day and entertained by night. They played ice soccer, had nightly songfests, and held regular sled dog competitions. It was in the ‘ice floe camp’ that Shackleton proved his greatness as a leader and a friend. He willingly sacrificed his warmer, fur-lined sleeping bag so that one of his men might have it. He also served hot milk to his men in their tents each morning. He was like a loving father to his sons, or an older brother. He showed them that he cared.
In April 1916, their thinning ice floe threatened to break apart, forcing the men to seek refuge on nearby Elephant Island. Knowing that a rescue from such a desolate island was unlikely, Shackleton and five other men left to cross the 800 miles of open Antarctic sea in a 20-foot lifeboat that was salvaged with other critical supplies from the Endurance. There was little hope that they would even make it across and mount a successful rescue, but little hope is more than no hope at all. Finally, on August 30, after an arduous 105-day trip and three earlier attempts, Shackleton returned to successfully rescue his stranded crew, becoming their hero.
The real hero in this story was perhaps, not the captain, but his first mate, Frank Wild, who was left in command by Shackleton. Wild maintained the routine the Boss had established. He assigned daily duties, served meals, held sing-alongs, planned athletic competitions, and generally kept up morale.
Because the camp was in constant danger of being buried by the snow and becoming completely invisible from the sea, so that a potential rescue party might look for it in vain, Wild kept the men busy shoveling away drifts when they would form. The firing of a gun was to be the prearranged signal that a rescue ship was near the island.
Wild later reported,
‘Many times when the glaciers were calving, and the chunks fell off with a report like a gun, we thought that it was the real thing, and after a time we go to distrust these signals.’
However, Wild never lost hope in the return of the Boss. Confidently, he kept the last tin of kerosene and a supply of dry combustibles ready to ignite instantly for use as a locator signal when the day of wonders would arrive. There were barely four days’ worth of rations remaining in the camp when Shackleton finally arrived on a Chilean icebreaker. He personally made several trips through the icy waters in a small lifeboat in order to ferry his crew to safety. Miraculously, the leaden fog lifted long enough for all of the men to make it to the icebreaker in one hour.
Shackleton later learned from the men how they were prepared to break camp so quickly and reported: ‘From a fortnight after I had left, Wild would roll up his sleeping bag each day with the remark, ‘Get your things ready, boys, the Boss may come today.’ Sure enough, one day the mist opened and revealed the ship for which they had been waiting, longing, and hoping for, over four months. Wild’s cheerful anticipation proved infectious, and all were prepared when the evacuation day came. Shackleton’s stranded, beleaguered crew desperately hoped that their leader would come back to them, and they longed for his return. As diligent and dedicated as Shackleton was, they could not be certain that he would ever return. He was, after all, a mere man battling elements he could not control, so they knew that he might not make it back.
The relevant takeaway for this blog has everything to do with the title question, ‘Who Are You Waiting For?’ The joy of Shackleton’s crew at the arrival of their leader, the Boss, will pale in comparison when Jesus returns for His Church; and seven-years later, for all surviving trib-saints and Messianic Jews of the Tribulation. When Jesus returns for His Church, all of our hopes will be realized that Jesus really is Who we are waiting for. Life is hard, there is an oppression that most people can feel, it’s spiritual in nature and too many people don’t know what to make of it or how to deal with it. We, as believers in Jesus, have hope, real hope, that very soon, possibly in the next week or so, the Master is going to return for us. Our level of expectancy should be matched by our love for the Lord and our longing for His Kingdom. This world really has nothing for us, except for people who would be willing to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Jesus said it this way,
‘When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’ – Luke 18:8b
While context is everything pertaining to this passage, the relevant message for us who are waiting on the Lord for His soon return is to keep the faith, our faith in God through Jesus. This is NOT the time to be walking away, giving up, or plain quitting. We need to keep real faith in Jesus, and share that faith with others. There are a lot of people out there who haven’t a clue as to what is about to hit this planet and I believe that the Rapture is the trigger. Like Shackleton’s men, who waited with anticipation for the Boss to return, we too must work, watch, and wait on the Lord, anticipating His return at any time.
Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Northern Missouri. He lives with his wife of 33-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren). Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate. He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry.