I just finished reading Liz Curtis Higgs', Bad Girls of the Bible, and while I always find her work to be funny and fascinating, a particular idea really stood up and spoke to me during this particular adventure. While making the case for the 'badness' of Lot's wife, Higgs brings up two points about God's grace. The first, she says, is that it stretches further than we can imagine. The second is that God is withholding fire and brimstone even now, for the sake of us here on earth. This gives us an opportunity, she says, to let others know about the judgment that awaits them, as well as the grace.
This got me thinking: 'Lord, do you mean that just like Abraham, who begged for mercy for the people of Sodom, I can also plead with you to withhold your judgment so that more and more of your people can escape it?' This is intercession! As much as we Christians may want to be in Heaven with the Lord---no more sin, no more death, no more carmel pecan clusters to mess with our diets---we can only get there one of two ways. Either the Lord comes back to get us or we die and find ourselves in a new just-the-right-size body bowing at His feet. In either case, there is now at least one less person on Earth to share the good news.
Some Christians have sort of sequestered themselves away from THE (big bad)WORLD in order to fulfill what they believe the Bible is teaching when it warns us to be in the world but not of it. Do we really just want to buckle up and sit back for a long, boring ride to Heaven? Couldn't we take a lesson from Abraham here and plead with God for just one more day? A day to spend praying for my lost and lied-to brother. For a friend's mother who can't seem to find her way. A day to spend on the phone with a sick father-in-law who has been too stubborn to yield to God. Maybe God is waiting to allow that last 50 or 45 or 30 or 20 or even 10 souls to become his.
God is not the big-bad-boogey-man up in Heaven cackling and stirring his tribulation pot. He's a just and holy and loving God, drying the grieving tears of his son Jesus as the Lord mourns for those who've already made their devastating choice. Jesus is interceding for us even now---urging us to be of good courage, to finish the fight and to finish strong. Let's all take up the challenge to intercede on behalf of those we know and those we don't know who need the Lord to save them.