What is this ‘return’ of which you speak?

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:3-7)

(Don’t you think you really need the King James for warning passages?)

I don’t know how many times I’ve been in a situation in which people get so tangled up in a particular outlook or set of plans, that changing one part unravels the whole. The mind naturally revolts against such upsets; we viscerally react against it.

The world’s view is: God-said-he’d-return-but-he-hasn’t-returned-in-2000-years-so-I-don’t-think-this-God-of-yours-is-coming-in-fact-there’s-no-God-at-all. And that’s a powerful idea, actually.

But wait a minute, says “Peter”: things last a long, long time. That God hasn’t returned as quickly as you thought God would might not reveal something about God, but about your own impatience. “Peter” had to worry about, oh, a century of waiting. We’ve had to wait something like 20 times that. And yet–what we know about the age of the universe, how long things have continued as they were from the beginning of the creation, is billions and billions of times longer than “Peter” probably thought (one imagines he would have been comfortable with Bishop Ussher’s chronology of 6k years). With this understanding, we have had to wait (according to our respective understandings of the age of the cosmos) immensely less than “Peter” and his critics did.

In other words, God isn’t being absent; God is being patient. God is preserving the cosmos, not ignoring it. Can we accept the difference this will make in how we view the cosmos, God, and ourselves?