By Sharee Grazda
Driving to town for errands, I switched on the radio, heard a couple so-so tunes, then was caught up in the lyrics and beat of a song.
“Wristband, my man, you’ve got to have a wristband, if you don’t have a wristband, you don’t get through the door,” Paul Simon crooned. Repeatedly, he urged the hearer to understand — if you don’t have a wristband, you are not going in the concert door.
The lyrics made me realize I’ve never been to a public event where I was issued a wristband beforehand for my entry. My familiarity is with the days of showing up to a venue, buying a ticket, saying hello to friends and finding a seat.
With ticket outlets online, many concerts, sporting events and other major attractions often sell out in minutes, with attendance in the tens of thousands.
Then came 2020 and the world-wide pandemic.
The modern way suddenly became the old way, and concerts, church services, sporting events, business meetings, even funerals and weddings are watched online.
Young and older, we are all adapting to yet another new way of attending an event.
More recently, the allure of soaking in steamy geothermal springs with cobalt blue skies overhead, snow-capped mountains on the horizon, and Canada Geese honking and cruising overhead was more than I could resist.
Grabbing my bag of essentials (towel, check; water shoes, check; floppy hat, check), I headed out, stopping for a flavored drink at a drive-through shop on my way.
The friendly young lady at the counter took my credit card payment and handed me a wristband to wear during my stay in the pools.
Since I entered on a Tuesday, my wristband was bright yellow and sported “TUESDAY” in bold black letters in various fonts along its length. The lady advised me there were 19 pools I could enter, others I could not and my entry was good for that day only.
Peeling off the adhesive tab and wrapping the band around my wrist, I was reminded of my thoughts when I heard the Simon song.
The mantra of the song, as well as my spa wristband, brought to mind that as in the material world, there are specific ways of doing things, rules and guidelines, so too there are specific ways, rules and guidelines, in our spiritual life.
Slowly relaxing into the warm, soothing waters, I began to mull over those scriptures about the sudden return of Christ to save this planet and its inhabitants from complete destruction by human hands, and to establish His rule.
Everything that was written and preserved in the Bible is to teach us, to encourage us, to invite us, so that we might through endurance retain our hope for such a time and event.
How, when and where all this will transpire is not given to us in detail; much is left to our imagination, as well as our understanding of major events in history and prophecy.
What we are told is that Jesus will welcome to His kingdom those He knows. He knows them because they know Him and have been in a relationship leading to this moment.
All will be astonished at His appearing — how could they not be? It will be a “once” in “ever” event!
Some will be pleased to see Him, others will not. We are told there will be distress as well as disbelief by many.
Joyful tears and utter amazement will overcome the hearts and minds of those who have longed for His appearing.
At His word those who appear before Him will be sent to His right or His left, welcomed or denied entry to His kingdom.
Why will some be sent right and some left?
Like a fan’s decision to decide if, when and where to attend an event, and my determination to enjoy the springs on locals’ Tuesday, it goes back to choices made by the individual in relation to guidelines set out by the One in Charge.
Did he or she choose to walk the straight and narrow path, with a desire to live in accordance with God’s good plan? Even when they failed, did they try again and again? Did they choose personal freedom and their rights — or to be willingly tied with cords of love and submission to the God of Israel and His “right hand man,” Jesus the Christ?
There will be a onetime event, unlike any other before it, and never to be repeated. This banquet, to usher in the reign of the new king of the world, headquartered in Jerusalem, will not require a wristband for admission.
Sadly, many will not have accepted the invitation and made proper preparation.
Most who appear before Jesus will be clothed in the filthy rags bought by the wages of unrepented sins; told they are not suitably dressed for the occasion, their entrance will be denied.
A small faithful remnant, long dead or recently dead, as well as those alive at the occurrence, will be dressed in clean and fresh white garments, paid for by the precious life of Jesus — and invited in.
“It is I who made the earth, and I who created mankind upon it,” God says of Himself, and declares His plan to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future.
He is the God of Hope, from the very beginning He spoke of His plan and purpose: to fill the earth, meaning the people, with His glory. The glory of the Lord is His character — His goodness, His mercy, His steadfast love.
We are told His word will not return to Him unfulfilled, but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which it was given.
What an encouragement — that God keeps His promises.
That purpose — to fill the earth with His glory — involves people. Ordinary people. Young people, old people, people of all parts of the earth and from all ages. People like you and me.
People found worthy, not of their own perfection, but because they believed and claimed the promises of forgiveness, grace and mercy, will hear their name spoken out loud by Jesus and be welcomed to join Him.
That’s what it takes — belief, trust, desire, fellowship, steadfastness — to be extended the greatest of invitations.
Please, the choice is yours: pursue a better life now and life eternal in the kingdom of God will await you.
“Garment of white, my man, you’ve got to have a garment of white …”
This column includes both fiction and nonfiction, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN. Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.