Written by Rev. Nicholas Davelaar
Published in the Courier of Russellville, Arkansas
Some readers may be familiar with the 1959 Johnny Mathis love song, “Misty.” After a slow, swaying piano introduction, Mathis enters, sweetly singing, “Look at me / I’m as helpless as a kitten in a tree / and I’m clinging to a cloud I can’t understand / I get misty just holding your hand.”
That song had a least two big fans: an Air Force pilot named Bud Day and his wife, Doris. In fact, during the following decade, when Day was tasked with forming and leading a new, experimental Air Force unit, he decided right out of the gate that his unit would be known as the Mistys.
Early on fellow servicemen ridiculed the Mistys for their sentimental name, but that didn’t last too long. The Mistys quickly gained the respect of everyone who knew them. They flew F-100s at speeds up of to 550 miles per hour just above the treetops of the jungles of Vietnam, scanning the ground for missile sites, military trucks, Viet-cong camps, and the like.
Yet, even at that speed, more than a quarter of the Mistys were shot down. Colonel Bud Day himself—called Misty 1 by his men—was one of those pilots. He and Senator John McCain would later be cellmates for a time in the infamous Hanoi Hilton.
Not long after the Mistys returned stateside (while Col. Day was being held prisoner in Hanoi), they held a reunion. However, they made a point of calling it a “practice reunion.” The man who organized the gathering decreed from the start that since Misty 1 was a POW, this had to be a practice reunion. The real thing would be held when the boss returned.
At that time, none of them knew for sure whether Misty 1 was still alive or would return, but they believed he was, and that one day he would return. Then—and only then—would they celebrate the real thing.
And they did. Col. Day returned in 1973, after five and a half years in captivity.
Those who trust in Jesus Christ today may have even greater confidence than the Mistys did. Jesus himself made it plain already before his death and resurrection that he would leave for a time, but later return. For instance, in John 14:3 he assured his disciples, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Christians throughout the ages have lived and died in that hope, professing, for instance, in the Apostles’ Creed, that Jesus “is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty,” and that “from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.”
Why is that hopeful? One of the great Reformers summed it up like this, in question and answer form: “How does Christ’s return to judge the living and the dead comfort you?”
Answer: “In all my distress and persecution I turn my eyes to the heavens and confidently await as judge the very One who has already stood trial in my place before God and so has removed the whole curse from me.
“All his enemies… he will condemn to everlasting punishment: but me and all his chosen ones he will take along with him into the joy and the glory of heaven.”
Is your hope in this Jesus? Is his return a matter of joy for you? Why or why not?
Think about that.
For further study, read Phil 3:20-21.