The bell rang. The time had finally come when my students would truly understand the meaning of the Second Coming! Fear and terror would run through their veins as they anticipated the signs that had been prophesied. A quiet, cynical laugh slipped from my mouth as I watched my students enter the classroom. At first they were surprised, not knowing what everything meant. But as they investigated, their curiosity turned to shock. They looked closely at the flies, commenting on how gross they were. They looked at the hail and began to question what our lesson was about. Then they saw the "maggots" and began to freak out. Just what I wanted!
The best part was when we began to read the scriptures about the events to come just prior to the Second Coming. I noticed that as we read, my students became silent. Some even slid down in their seats, their eyes as big as bowling balls. I could tell that my lesson was working and that most of the students were terrified out of their minds regarding the coming of Christ. Satisfied with what I had done, I asked for questions. My students just sat there in stunned silence. It had worked! This was a lesson they would never forget.
At that moment, one student slowly raised her hand. With a confused expression she said slowly, "What if I don't make it?" "What do you mean?" I asked. "Well, the things you've talked about today tell me that I'm probably not going to live through the Second Coming. What if I'm riding my bike home from school and flies begin to chase me. You said that churches would be safe places, so I race for the nearest church. But just as I bang on the front door, the flies begin to eat me. What will I do then, Brother McKenzie? I want to be saved, but you make it sound like there's no hope. What will I do?"
I stared at her for a moment, looked at the flies covering my classroom, and then turned back to her. Just then the bell rang, and the students quickly left. I was left alone, not having had an opportunity to answer her question. All the enthusiasm I had had about my Second Coming lesson was gone. My excitement about the maggots and the hail and the flies had disappeared. The scriptures we had read together faded in my mind. I went to my office and sat at my desk with one thought: What have I done?
Several years have passed since I gave that horrible lesson. Since then I have changed my outlook on the Second Coming. Better yet, I have changed how I teach it. No more maggots. No more hail. And definitely no more flies. That may disappoint some of you, but I listened carefully to my student that day. The one word she said that has stayed with me all these years is hope. And hope is what the Second Coming is all about.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have great reason to hope for the future. One of our Articles of Faith says, "We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things" (Articles of Faith 1:13). We "hope all things" and "hope to be able to endure all things." What a great statement. Having hope regarding the Second Coming means looking forward to seeing Christ and wanting to be with him, to hear him speak, and to watch him reignwith peace on earth.
The great prophet Nephi said we must "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope" (2 Nephi 31:20). For the righteous, hope, not fear, is what helps us look forward to the Second Coming. Flies, hailstorms, and maggots shouldn't occupy our minds. Rather, we should look forward to the awesome day when Christ comes to bring peace and joy. That's what the Second Coming is all about.
When I was young, I loved Christmas. It's still one of my favorite holidays. There's food, gift giving and gift getting, more food, fun with the family, and even more food. But the best part of Christmas was my belief in Santa. I could hardly go to sleep because of the excitement I felt knowing he was on his way. At times I even thought I could see Rudolf's red nose outside my window and hear Santa walking around our living room. The excitement was almost too much for me!
I focused on the joy of Christmas, and I had hope for its arrival. I didn't waste time wondering about the possibility that Santa might hit his head on the way down our chimney and end up in a heap in our fireplace. I didn't worry about Rudolph's nose going out and Santa losing his way and slamming his reindeer into a mountainside. I looked forward to his coming with faith and hope.
The prophet Alma said, "If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true" (Alma 32:21). Santa always came, and he still does in one way or another as we love and serve each other and remember God's ultimate gift to us--his Son. Childlike belief and hope for the future should remain with us, especially as we look forward to the coming of Christ.
If there's only one thing you remember after reading this book, I hope it is this: Jesus lives. He is a resurrected being who knows you and wants you to have faith and hope in him. Read the testimonies of those who know him and have faith and hope in him:
President Gordon B. Hinckley: "Jesus is the Christ, [the] immortal Son, who under His Father's direction was the Creator of the earth. He was the great Jehovah of the Old Testament, whocondescended to come into the world as the Messiah, who gave His life on Calvary's cross in His wondrous Atonement because He loved us." ("Testimony," Ensign, May 1988, 71)
President James E. Faust: "Mine is the certain knowledge that Jesus is our divine Savior, Redeemer, and the Son of God the Father. I know of his reality by a sure perception so sacred I cannot give utterance to it." ("Heirs to the Kingdom of God," Ensign, May 1995, 63)
Elder Henry B. Eyring: "I am grateful that I know as surely as did the apostles Peter, James, and John that Jesus is the Christ, our risen Lord, and that he is our advocate with the Father." ("Witnesses for God," Ensign, November 1996, 33)
Elder Boyd K. Packer: "I know by experience too sacred to touch upon that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ." ("The Candle of the Lord," Ensign, January 1983,56)
Joseph Smith: "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father." (D&C 76:22-23)
Isn't it wonderful to know that so many people in our day have such strong testimonies of our Savior? Many have seen him, many see him today, and many more will see him on that incredible day when he appears in the clouds of heaven to greet us and lead the world in righteousness and love. He is our king. Jesus loves you, and he wants nothing more than for you to look to the Second Coming with hope and excitement, not fear and doubt.
He said, "Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come" (D&C 68:6; emphasis added).
He will come. As you hope for the future and put your faith in him, you will come to feel excitement for his return. It will be a day that will bring you joy and peace. No more focusing on maggots, hailstorms, and flies (although we will take a healthy look at those things later). Let's change our view from fear to hope and faith, and with greater under-standing let's open our minds and hearts to the greatest day yet to come--the second coming of Jesus Christ.