By Norris Burkes
Posted Sep 24, 2017
If David Meade of Wisconsin is right, this will be the last column I ever write. However, if you’re reading this, it’s probably because Meade’s calculations that the world would end Sept. 23 were wrong.
Meade is a “Christian numerologist” and self-published author who believes the Bible contains a decipherable code that reveals the date of Jesus’ return. This event, of course, is something Jesus categorically called unpredictable.
However, Meade isn’t deterred by Jesus’ teaching. He points to the recent solar eclipse and hurricanes as proof of the coming apocalypse. He arrives at the Sept. 23 date by using the “codes” he’s found in the Bible. He believes that certain planetary alignments on that date will foreshadow the apocalypse with volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and earthquakes.
Disclaimer: this columnist is not promoting Meade’s whack-a-doodle views.
For that matter, I’d say few if any Christians share his calculations. Nonetheless, many evangelical Christians do believe the apocalypse will come someday. Fortunately, their “someday” outlook sets a more reasonable tone than Meade’s “today” tune.
But if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s tempting to give thought to such calamitous predictions. They remind us of the two ways we look at life: one good and the other not so much.
On the negative side, we seem to enjoy making rash negative predictions about our future. It’s called catastrophizing, and it’s how we tend to turn small things into catastrophes.
The online Urban Dictionary defines this common psychological term: “to hyper-imagine negative outcomes to a situation that has no basis in reality. To blow problems out of proportion such that you spiral into an emotional catastrophe.”
Simply put, we take an otherwise manageable problem and worry ourselves silly by imagining the possible catastrophic endings of our personal world.
The ironic thing about catastrophizing is that it tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Psychological studies done at the University of California, Riverside, indicate: “Males with a tendency to catastrophize were at the highest risk for early death . . . and were 25 percent more likely to die by age 65 . . . by accident or violence.”
On the better side, Meade’s prediction reminds us that any day could be our last one on earth. If the world will end this Saturday, then today is really the only moment truly promised to us. In that case, shall we party on?
No. I’m not suggesting you max your credit card or quit your job. I’m suggesting you give your full attention to living life now in this very moment. Don’t just build a bucket list for some day. Turn the bucket upside down and let it all spill out. Live tomorrow’s list today.
Jesus wasn’t a psychiatrist, but he had a much better way of looking at things than Meade’s catastrophic viewpoint. In a talk he gave on a hillside, usually referred to as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus perfectly summarized the positive points of living each day as your last. In Eugene Patterson’s “The Message” translation of the Bible, Jesus says,
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now.
“Don’t get worked up (or catastrophize) about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
And if you’ll heed those words, I have a prediction for you. You needn’t worry about the last day because your days will truly be lasting.
In other words, make your weekend beach plans.
Email: [email protected]. Voicemail 843-608-9715 Twitter @chaplain Read past columns at www.thechaplain.net.