It was my dear friend Aaron's birthday and he had no idea what surprise was in store for him: My family and I were going to drive 12 hours and show up at his house unannounced (don't worry, we planned it with his wife, Laura).
The visit was a long time coming. Aaron and I hadn’t seen each other in person for three years. The long distance, expense and our growing families made it hard to do more than talk on the phone.
As my family and I drove across state after state, the anticipation grew. My wife, Raquel, and I texted back and forth with Laura and planned the moment of our unexpected appearance.
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When my family and I finally arrived at Aaron’s house, he was running an errand. We decided that when he got home and walked into the kitchen, I would be standing in front of the stove with my back to him, pretending to cook.
“He’s going to think I’m a burglar who’s taken everyone hostage and decided to make spaghetti,” I said to Laura and Raquel as Aaron's son kept watch at the window.
“He’s coming!” his son finally said.
I pulled my hoodie over my head and stood there waiting as my heart raced until finally, I heard the door open and knew Aaron had walked through it.
“Hello, Aaron,” I said in a deep voice, “want to do FaceTime?”
Then I wheeled around, pulled the hoodie back and yelled, “Surprise!”
“What?!?” Aaron yelled. “Oh my gosh! What?!? I can’t believe this is happening!”
We gave each other a bear hug and laughed as our wives cheered. I couldn’t stop smiling at the look of euphoric shock on his face.
For those of us who believe in Jesus, that kind of shock is a foretaste of what we're going to experience one day when we see the Lord in person. And it's interesting how the Bible describes that moment.
In 2 Peter 3:10, it says that the day of Jesus' return will "come like a thief," which is a phrase that has always left me a little unsettled. It makes it sound like Christ's return is comparable to an unexpected burglary.
This morning, however, I went back and looked at the rest of the passage from 2 Peter and there's more. It says that, for those of us who know Jesus, we "look forward to the day of God and speed its coming." And two more times it says we are "looking forward" to His return (2 Peter 3:11-14, NIV).
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Why do we look forward to seeing Jesus? Because He laid down His life for us and has remained close to us through the presence of His Holy Spirit. We can trust Him. Our beloved “thief” is on His way and we know that His presence is the greatest gift we could ever ask for.
If you're a believer in Jesus, He's coming for you when you least expect it. He's looking forward to it with joyful anticipation, and when you finally see Him face to face, you'll exclaim, with joy, "What?!? I can't believe this is happening!" But rather than an all-too-short reunion, it will be the beginning of our lives with Him in eternity.