Stranded in the dark

A recent breakdown in the middle of the night left Jarrod Stackelroth contemplating the second coming of Christ.

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Jesus is coming back soon? It’s been 2000 years and still He hasn’t returned. In our short denominational history, we’ve been waiting, convinced that the clock is about to strike midnight for 176 years. Is it time to reassess our priority on the second Advent, one of the pillars of our hope?

The clock was about to strike midnight. My heart beat faster as each giant truck whipped by. The car shook with the force of their momentum as they passed—our vehicle motionless, stranded, only inches within the shoulder on the Southeastern Freeway near Adelaide. My anxiety was not without foundation. Too many people die in accidents after being stranded or broken down on the side of motorways in Australia. This was not the first time I had broken down, but it was the first time I’d had my wife and daughter in the backseat and I was interstate, driving a car that wasn’t mine. There is a unique feeling of helplessness and the first thing we did was pray. Then we made some calls for rescue. Thank the Lord for mobile phones.

As we waited for rescue, the sight of flashing lights was a real confidence boost. We were no longer alone. The roadside assistance mechanic diagnosed our problem—the alternator was gone, the battery had completely died. The thing is, once he’d diagnosed our problem, the only hope for us was to be towed home (or to a safer location for fixing). He left as quickly as he’d arrived, leaving us with perhaps a bit more juice in the battery but still stranded on the dangerous edge of a dark road. Like the prophets and pioneers, he was able to proclaim the problem, point to the solution and provide hope, if only briefly, but rescue and restoration wasn’t coming from him.

As we waited anxiously, our daughter continued to sleep.

Just as it seemed our hazard lights were fading, the next encouragement to arrive came in the form of family. Mum and Dad had just been getting into bed when we called them. They had dropped everything and rushed to our aid. They played a part in our rescue; their lights were brighter; they provided encouragement and the ministry of presence. The risk was still there. Now we were all in a dangerous position, but it felt somehow lighter to no longer be alone in the night.

My brother arrived next. He was specially placed to help, with the baby car seat in his vehicle allowing the girls to be rescued in safety. He had left his wife and child at home to come to our aid.

"I can't guarantee that He's coming back . . . But He said He will."

As they drove off, I felt lighter, knowing they were now safely on the road to home.

I jumped in with Mum as Dad took my place, assuming responsibility for his vehicle, riding in the tow truck and paying the price for rescue.

We all arrived safely home.

You’re probably as tired as I am of people talking about 2020 and the year it has been. Possibly, as you read this, the US elections are still being contested. If not, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the unrest there, no matter the outcome, as the world waits and watches. People are losing hope as economies struggle and life changes. Personally, 2020 has brought lots of changes as my wife and I adjusted to a new baby, lockdowns changed the way we live and plans were cancelled and adjusted. New opportunities arose.

The week before our rescue experience, I preached for seven nights straight—from an office in Adelaide—as part of the Central Papuan Conference’s Adventist Emphasis Week. It was something that we would not have expected before COVID-19. On our final evening together looking through our Adventist fundamentals, we focused on Jesus’ second return and the hope of restoration and rescue that we hold. I can’t guarantee that He’s coming back, as you wait on the dark roadside. But He said He will. All the prophets pointed to His first arrival, and He testified to the second Advent Himself. The hope in certainty of rescue took on a new significance after our roadside ordeal.

Someone is on their way, responding to the call of the saints, to bring rescue and restoration. He who has ears let him hear.