But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
2 Peter 3:10
“The family doesn’t want this told.” The tagline came with most gossip. I won’t repeat the gossip here. But it’s a strange thing. First, why and how did it spread so far and wide if the family was determined to keep it quiet? Sometimes the things the family didn’t want told were things that should be told – to warn people to keep their children away. Sometimes they were private and shouldn’t be told. One thing is for certain, they would’ve been discussed from the pulpit when Walter was alive.
Walter called people out. I’ve spoken to folks who were rebuked by Walter for things that seem minor to me – and some not so minor. Your sins will be shouted from the mountain tops. And it seems like that could have some positive aspects. Maybe deter people from temptations (the fear of being publicly called out). Maybe it was a way to seek forgiveness and repent publicly and be cleansed here and now rather than wait for eternal consequences.
I believe in confession. It was so strongly ingrained in me that, as a child from my first conscious lie in the second grade, I believed that unconfessed sin would send me to hell. I was scared and conflicted. On the one hand, if I confessed I would have immediate consequences from my parents; on the other hand, if I didn’t confess and Jesus came back, I would have eternal consequences. I kept track of my lies: I had lied to a teacher at school about picking on some first graders; I lied to my brothers about peeing in the swimming pool. And I had some other sins that seemed huge to a seven-year-old: saying bad words (the ones I remember were “butt” and “fart”). What a serious dilemma it was to try to predict the end of time and the right time for a confession!
Storms terrified me. I lay in bed thinking thunder was the sound of the trumpet of the Lord. I would creep out of bed and peek down the stairs to where my parents sat watching television. Should I go down and confess now while I still had time? Those two lies and “bad” words cost me a lot of sleep in those days. I was nine before I finally broke down and confessed.
When I was nineteen, and still living at home, our area had an earthquake (the Spring Break Quake of 1993 whose epicenter was in Woodburn, Oregon). I had never experienced anything like it. I was awakened in my little white daybed with the entire room shaking. I thought my brother was shaking my bed to wake me up and I woke up yelling, “Stop! I’m awake!” but I opened my eyes and nobody was there. The floor (littered with clothing and books) was shaking, pictures were being knocked off the walls, and I knew it was the end.
I’ve been waiting and watching and expecting the end of time since I was old enough to comprehend the meaning of such a concept. When will it happen? Will Jesus find me waiting?