These are mostly the same folk who insisted that increased tensions in the Cold War meant that the world would soon "Come to an end" via nuclear self-annihilation back in the 70's. Books came out with time-lines for destruction. I even knew some folk who were excited about and looking forward to "The coming events".
Last year Rebekah and I read the book "A Distant Mirror: the Calamitous 14th Century". It's a wonderful, detailed account of a particularly difficult century in "The Dark Ages." The plague that swept Europe for the better part of 100 years wiped out anywhere from 25% to 75% of the population! Prophets of doom had a field day at the time, and it's easy to understand why they thought the Apocalypse was NOW. It's a view of contemporary history repeated time and again over the 2,00 years since Jesus uttered his famously ignored caution: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven...." (Mark 13:32)
This world is alive!
But, and this is an observation I often reference when I'm out speaking, I love the fact that we exist on a living, breathing planet. This understanding informs both my theology and - hopefully - how I live.
The picture (at top and below right), was taken from the Johnston Ridge Observatory overlooking Mt St Helens during my visit with Rebekah in 2006. It was a clear day, the landscape of destruction from the 1980 blast was awe-inspiring, and - while we were were watching - Mt St. Helens went "poof"!
If you look closely, you can see a new cone being formed inside the crater. There's an ash vent too, and it poofed out a small plume just as I took the picture.
What amazing power! We were privileged to witness creation in progress. It was the same thing when we looked down into the Grand Canyon, but at a much slower pace. The river, running through the deep fissure in the earth's surface, thousands of feet below, was (and is) working God's creative purpose out for generations and civilizations yet to come.
A plaque, there at the interpretive center near Mt. St. Helens, has this quote from a scientist: "Civilization exists at the consent of geology." I like that, but it doesn't go far enough. "Geology, in fact the entire sum of science and beyond, exists at the consent of God."
We live on this living, breathing, fluid planet. And that same creative impetus has promised to live in and through my life! The creative power that is shaping the Grand Canyon, grows Giant Redwoods 300 feet into the sky, birthed our amazing children into life, and continues to both bring down and build mountains... has a personal interest in the lives of people.
For me, that's an enormous thought. And I'm still trying to wrap my mind around how that truth is/should/can/might impact the way that I live today, and into a future that is not uncertain at all in terms of the confidence I have in the promises of Jesus.