Below is the speech I gave at the end of my Leadership Skills Training class held in Seattle, WA in March 1999. It has been modified slightly for better reading and web presentation.
When I first gave this presentation, I received quite a bit of feedback. Some suggested adding humor and approaching the subject with more lightness. I believe in the value of honest feedback. So, in honoring that request . Does anyone know: "What a Zen monk says at a hot dog stand?".... "Make me one with everything!" This is a fun, light question giving recognition to a specific religion and concept.
Now, I'm not going to propose that everyone becomes a Zen monk or opens a new fast food business. What I am going to suggest, comes from a different religion and concept, and asks a more serious question.
I'm honored and excited to have this opportunity to spend the next few minutes asking you to consider the question of "What if?"
What if you were to awaken some morning and discover that the person you loved, and had gone to bed with, had disappeared during the night .... And, that all that was left behind, was what that person had been wearing when they went to sleep beside you? You see their pajamas, their wedding ring, their watch .... lying between the sheets next to you . but their physical being was nowhere to be found, seemingly vanished during the night without a trace. And then you discovered that .... in fact, many of the people you normally connect with in your daily routine were missing too .... family, friends and co-workers .... not just in your city .... but throughout the United States. And then sadly you realized .... not only were those people missing .... but, so were most of the younger children in your neighborhood and preschools. And as you begin to talk more and more with people, you discover that these vanishings have occurred all over the world for some .... but not for others. How would you feel? What would your reaction be .... What would you think? What would you think ....
I am in the process of rereading a book for the second time that I find incredibly intriguing .... intriguing because I enjoy discovering new concepts that give me a chance to ponder "what if" possibilities. The book I'm referring to is entitled "Left Behind." It is co-authored by Christian writers Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I'm going to ask you to read this book, but first, I'm going to tell you a little more about it. Left Behind is a fictional, easy to read novel, portraying the author's perception and description of what our last days on earth might look like. For me, it is a book that grabbed and shocked me to clarity about how I want to live my life now . in preparation for what MIGHT come later.
Left Behind is a book with an important message written for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike. To give you a little deeper insight into the book and storyline, here is the author's short commentary:
"In one cataclysmic moment, millions around the globe disappear.
Vehicles, suddenly unmanned, careen out of control. People are terror stricken as loved ones vanish before their eyes.
In the midst of global chaos, airline captain Rayford Steele must search for his family, for answers, for truth. As devastating as the disappearances have been, the darkest days may lie ahead."
I find the following reviews by readers from all walks of life just as exciting, and I quote:
"I've long been a fan of Jerry Jenkins's fiction and an admirer of Tim LaHaye's mind. This novel combines the best of both. A gripping story."
"More intriguing than Clancy and Grisham."
"The main features of this story are not fiction. Those not prepared will be left behind. This book describes the dramatic days ahead. Here is a book that demands to be read."
So who are these guys .... Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins? Have they sold only a few copies of this book and given the rest away to family and friends? Do they live in a cult somewhere and profess to know all the answers to the great mysteries of life? Do they stand on street corners and hand out flyers professing doom and gloom? NO .... NO .... and NO. Actually Tim LaHaye is the author of numerous international best sellers, with nonfiction sales of over 10 million copies. The writing of Jerry Jenkins has reached the New York Times best-seller list three times. The Left Behind Series has sold millions of copies with over 3,000,000 of those for this book alone. Both authors have also written and sold numerous children's stories, and movies depicting three of their books are pending.
This is not a self-help book nor is it a "my way or the highway book". It is a book based on historical facts mixed with mystery and intrigue .... for me a little bit like watching a movie on The History Channel portraying scripts that could have been written for the X-Files and Millenium. Or, more realistically put, like going to a movie and coming out a couple hours later, realizing just by watching the movie, how my life had changed. I'm reminded of when I went to the movie "Rainman" and "Mr. Holland's Opus" and how seeing those movies impacted me with a greater depth of appreciation for gifted individuals and a better understanding of unconditional love. My life and my perceptions about life had changed.
My value in reading Left Behind was just as impressive. I began thinking: "If this really is going to happen . What am I going to do to prepare for it?" My preparation has become a personal, spiritual quest that is sometimes quite vulnerable, but the rewards are so much greater than the risks. I've become more aware of how precious EVERY MOMENT is. My relationship and time spent with my husband, my children & grandchildren, my extended family and friends has changed dramatically. I consider our time together a true blessing and I cherish it. It's become easier for me to "get over my own personal issues" the ones that I previously had allowed to get in the way of having the relationship that I REALLY wanted, and to focus more on what I truly love and appreciate about people. I began verbally giving those little gifts of confidence that other times I had held only in thought. It became VITAL to say them NOW . And not wait until later . Because we have no guarantees on what later will look like.
So what I want you to know is .... Left Behind is an exciting, challenging book that is completely thought provoking! Let's just consider for the sake of curiosity, that what is depicted is true. How would I feel if I had been one of the ones left behind in the turmoil and what could I have done to prepare for it? And THAT is the question I want you to ask yourself, too. I want everyone, everywhere . to read this book. Then, with this added knowledge, make an informed decision on whether or not they want to use the information presented in it to apply to their lives. The cost is $13.99 plus tax and it can be found in most bookstores. It is also available on cassette for easy listening while driving or resting and if you're reluctant to purchase a copy, you can always find it at your local library.
The emphasis I want to communicate to everyone is to READ the book .... not buy the book. And then, after you've read it, I would very much appreciate hearing your thoughts about the content, who was your favorite character and what part of the book touched you the most?
I truly believe in the message Left Behind delivers, and the value I received from reading it. It infers that we have a limited amount of time on this earth and suggests conscious clarity and conviction toward the issues that are most important to each of us as individuals. My INTENT is for you to share a very meaningful experience by reading it. Then, after you've read it, I'm hoping you'll be curious about the "what if". And how you will personally want to prepare for it, if in fact, what is written, is true. I know for those of us who are Christian and believers of "the rapture" . THE FUTURE IS CLEAR.