Before and After :: By Sandy Howard

From the time we’re born, we pass milestones in our lives. Things we learn as we grow that change our lives in ordinary ways. We learn to talk. We learn to walk. We learn to feed ourselves; tie our shoes, roller skate; whistle; swim; ride a bike; read; write; play a musical instrument; drive a car; shave; type; and if from the south, learn to fish and hunt. There are many other milestones we pass along our way through this life. But, in all of our lives at some point, we experience an extraordinary milestone that becomes a ‘before and after’ moment that changes us from that moment forward. Something that changes us as an individual, as a family, as a community or as a country.

President Kennedy’s assassination changed a whole country. Those alive and old enough to understand remember where they were and what they were doing when they got the news. That changed forever the methods used by the secret service and law enforcement to protect presidents, their families and others in positions of power or fame. So life changed from a before to an after.

9/11 changed us all as well, in short-term and in long-term ways. A whole country of people suddenly realized that we were no longer immune to terrorism and weren’t as ‘safe and secure’ as we had previously, naively assumed. From that day forward, the way the whole country navigated an airport, rode on a plane or other public transport changed from a before to an after.

Those in the Midwest remember the horrific tornado that ripped through Joplin, Missouri, in May of 2011. There were 161 fatalities and $2.8 billion in damages. That disaster changed a whole community and brought about changes like building tornado-proof hospitals, for example. The lives of the people in that community certainly changed from a before to an after.

Although not the largest in the world or worst in terms of damage and lives lost, the 7.8 earthquake in California in April of 1906 nevertheless resulted in 3,000 deaths and 225,000 displaced. And although not immediate, building codes improved. That earthquake and many others since changed many individuals and many families’ lives from before to after.

A diagnosis of cancer, MS, or some other terminal disease changes the life of the patient and the lives of loved ones who love and become caregivers in a serious situation, whether they are trained for it or not. That will change life for all involved from before to after.

The death of a spouse, parent, child, sibling or best friend definitely changes life for those left to grieve the terrible loss but carry on from life before to a different life after.

A young person who goes to war and loses a limb or suffers damage from being exposed to horrific carnage or sprayed with some awful chemical like agent orange as some were in Vietnam experiences forever life-changes from before to life after.

And we all know by now how many changes affect our lives when a pandemic is declared. We are experiencing many life changes that will likely never go back to ‘before’ life.

There are other circumstances that change a life in good ways. A lottery winner comes to mind. As does marriage. And becoming a parent. But the most important I can think of is Salvation. That experience is the most astounding of all because the ‘after’ is eternal life in heaven. No experience can top that.

All the above leads me to the point of this article. The Rapture is going to be the biggest before and after experience ever known on earth so far. The ‘after’ for the believer in Christ will be wonderful beyond imagining. But the ‘after’ for the person who rejects Christ’s offer of pardon and salvation before the Rapture will be the worst that any human mind can comprehend. Jesus Himself said that it would be the worst time on this earth since it was created. The only thing worse than being among the left behind after the Rapture is dying without Christ. The reason is that the person who is alive after the Rapture will have another chance to accept Christ’s offer of salvation. That is, if they live through the chaos and destruction that will result from millions of people disappearing from the earth suddenly.

Imagine airline pilots who disappear in mid-flight. Imagine vehicle drivers disappearing while driving 60 miles an hour on a busy freeway. Imagine explosions and fires caused by pots being left unattended on the stoves of many households. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. So if you die during that chaos, or if you die any time before the Rapture happens without Christ, your ‘after’ is also eternal. In hell. Please hear me when I say that hell is a very real place, and you will certainly go there if you die lost. Forever after. Many have gone there and remain still. Those who entered hell in the 10th century are still there. And always will be there.

So please, please don’t choose that ‘after.’ It is so simple that a child can understand to believe (by faith) that Christ is the Son of God; that He was born of a virgin; that He lived a sinless life as God in the flesh; that He (willingly) died on the cross to pay the debt you and I owe for our sins; that He rose from the dead on the third day and ascended back to heaven to prepare a place for all those who choose to go to heaven.

For a taste of what the ‘after’ will be like for those left behind after the Rapture, I highly recommend clicking on this link and reading a very interesting novel called SEVEN. It’s written by my friend Alice Childs, and although a novel, it describes a Biblically sound picture of what a group of left-behind people will go through – after.