Verses 16–17: “For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air.”
In many Christian traditions, this scripture is quoted in support of the rapture. The rapture is held to be the time of Christ’s physical return to earth when all who believe in him will be lifted to heaven. This includes those who have died. The dead will be resurrected and ascend to heaven first, and then the living will follow.
When I was a little girl in a Southern Baptist church, I had many anxieties about the expected event. Contemporary folk songs of the time talked about two being taken and two being left. Those left were the unbelievers.
I am thankful to have a different understanding of the scripture today. It is rich with symbolism of how our (self or ego) consciousness often follows previously unconscious aspects of the self to be united with God Within.
God Within shows up when least expected. We usually sense something is happening because we experience an awakening. Something in us, unbidden by ego, stirs. Desires, impulses, and movements arise from deep within us. They have a power that captivates and mobilizes our thinking and feeling. We find ourselves carried towards a larger sense of self. We experience God Within more fully.
Our ego consciousness is limited compared to the fullness of our larger Self. Our ego can think we have the truth. We do not always readily admit our lack of understanding and knowledge. We have learned to quickly dismiss body sensations, impulses, intuitions, and feelings that do not conform to “what we should believe or think or feel or do.” These are the dead within. The dead also includes the heart’s desires pushed aside by outer worldly demands.
“God will bring with him those who died” (verse 14). The dead do not stay dead. The energies of our soul do not disappear forever. They may be temporarily dead to our ego consciousness, but they are alive in our larger Self. The larger Self, or point of connection with God Within, moves all aspects of our self. This includes the felt experiences of our body, mind, and soul. Nothing gets left behind.
We have to be willing to follow God Within when our soul shows up. We cannot hold onto our current situation—inner or outer. We have to go up to heaven. Symbolically, this means we rise above our limited understanding to receive the bird’s eye view, that is, the larger view or the big picture. It contains more than the momentary consciousness we can hold with our self or ego consciousness.
When we consciously follow the risen energies of our heart and soul, we move to the heavens with God Within. We know the aliveness that comes from the conscious union of all aspects of our self with God Within. We are able to live the fullness of our soul’s truth.
What is waking up in you? Feelings? Desires? Actions? How are you encountering God Within in these experiences? Where are you being pulled to follow your soul’s lead? However you feel led, make a commitment to yourself to go with the call of God Within.