Pick a grade. It doesn't matter which one. Third grade? Yep. Seventh grade? Ah-huh. Eleventh grade? That one, too. You can even count my four years of college and six years of seminary. My feelings never changed. It was always the same: I COULDN'T WAIT FOR THE BELL TO RING!
The coolest thing about school was the bell. Kids today are cheated if they don't get a real bell. Don't give them a wimpy electronic ding. Don't shortchange them with a beep or a buzz. The bell is the best! It inspires the fireman in all of us. It shoots kids out of the cannon of semi-consciousness.
When I was younger, the bell was a wonderful daily surprise. I was ADD before they had the initials, so I was lost in my own little world the first few years of first grade. But when that bell rang -- hot dog -- I sprang to action! Slam the book shut. Grab the Big Chief tablet (google it, kids) and the Green Hornet lunchbox. The bell has sounded! It's time to go home!
As I got older, I gradually learned to expect the bell. Somewhere along the way, I became a clock watcher. I knew the bell was coming. I knew WHEN it was going to ring. I'll be honest. I liked it better when I didn't know. Even the smug satisfaction of counting down the final ten seconds and synchronizing my "NOW" whisper-shout perfectly with the ringing of the bell was not as exhilerating as the former days of being surprised by the bell.
But still, the anticipation was there, even in seminary. The knowing. The waiting. Stealthily watching the clock like a professional spy without anyone knowing that I knew time was about to run out. Slowly, methodically, unnoticed, I would gather my books and my Green Hornet lunchbox (the seminary bookstore didn't sell Big Chief tablets) and lunge for the door when the bell sounded. The thrill of the bell never left. It never let me down, unless it was a fire drill. But even that had it's own adrenalyn rush.
What could be more awesome than a bell to end school? A trumpet and a high-volume shout from the sky to end the world. Oh yes. It's coming. Just as I knew the bell was coming in school, I know the trumpet will one day blast and the angel in charge of shouting will let her rip. The only thing I don't know is...when. No one knows.
A few morons guess. Jesus predicted they would. But Jesus said, "No one knows" (Matthew 24:36-37). No one knows when it will but happen. But the Bible assures us that it most definitely will happen.*
When the bell in school rang, I was always ready to go. School was not my home. School had moments of pleasure. Thank God for recess, lunch, good friends, and nice teachers. But as good as the good in school was, it couldn't compare to home.
This world is the same. It has great moments. I'm thankful for the blessings of God in this life. But this isn't home. Heaven is. I don't watch the clock because there's no clock to watch. But every once in a while, I see signs that make me think the angel in charge of trumpet blowing is about to pucker!
I'm ready. Are you?
*"The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God's trumpet blast! He'll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise --- they'll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we'll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words" (1st Thessalonians 4:16-18, The Message).