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On This Day I Shall Return

On this day in 1942, General Douglas MacArthur, under presidential orders, fled the Philippines as the Japanese Navy moved in. Escaping at dusk by PT boat, MacArthur and his family made a harrowing 35-hour trip to the island of Mindanao, where they caught a B-17 bomber to Australia. There they ended up in Adelaide, a city in South Australia nestled between the hills and sea. Despite the peaceful surroundings, MacArthur fought an inner war. He had left behind his beloved Philippines, where he had served three tours of duty. Worse, he was forced to abandon his troops to the enemy. On March 20, speaking from a train platform to a buzzing crowd, MacArthur uttered his famous promise, “I shall return.”

And he did. On October 20, 1944, MacArthur waded ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte. That day, speaking over radio, he triumphantly announced, “People of the Philippines, I have returned!” Less than a year later, MacArthur presided over the formal Japanese surrender ceremony on the U.S.S. Missouri.

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MacArthur made a promise that he kept. Jesus, too, made a promise to return. In fact, he repeatedly assured his disciples that he would come back in glory to consummate God’s kingdom. Scattered like diamonds throughout the New Testament are some 50 promises and declarations of Jesus’ Second Coming.

Some, of course, aren’t living as if Jesus will return. Immersed in worldly affairs, they don’t give a second thought to the Second Coming or their eternal destiny. Just as in the days of Noah before the flood washed over the earth, people are eating, drinking, and getting married without an inkling of care for the things of God.

The church should be different. According to the Book of Titus, we should not only believe that our God and Savior will return, but we should live like it. Titus urges us to just say “no”—no to ungodly patterns of living and worldly obsessions. But we also get to say “yes” as we wait for Jesus to return—yes to self-control, right living, and devotion to God.

During his ministry, Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” It’s a sobering question for all of us.

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