When we got to the Pines, Vinny Sawyer was waiting on us. We knocked on the front door, and Vinnie let us in.
“Hey boys, Clyde said y’all ‘ud be here. I got two rooms ready, but they’s not on the same floor. One of ‘em’s on the second floor and t’other’s up on the 3rd. Iff’n you boys ‘ud rather stay t’gether, I got a real nice rollaway cot that I could put in the room with the two single beds. That one’s on the second floor. Y’all’s call.”
Trail spoke up. “We’ll take the one with the two single beds and the cot. And, thank you, Vinnie. We really appreciate it.”
“No trouble, boys. The regular ones left here are all upset over Ms. Watson vanishin’.” Vinnie shook his head. “It’s a dang peculiar thing. Gives me the creepin’ horrors thinkin’ about it, it does.”
“Vinnie, how many regulars do you have living here at the Pines?” asked Mitch, a thoughtful expression creasing his brow.
“Oh, we got five regulars that stay an’ live here all the time, not counting Ms. Watson. They’s me, Jimmy Morgan, Norm Baker, Ed Waters, and Hank Brock. We live here full time and Ms. W, she rents out t’other three rooms whenever they’s somebody to rent ‘em too,” said Vinnie as he led us up to the room we were all going to share. “Y’all hang loose while I go pull that spare bed out.”
“Here, I’ll give you a hand Vin,” Trail chimed in. “Where is it?”
“You’re in luck, Terrell; it’s in a storage room on this floor. Not hard to git to a’tall.”
Vinnie got the folding bed set up (a really nice sturdy one that actually looked like it might be as comfortable as the twin beds). As he found bedding, sheets, a thick blanket, and a couple of extra pillows to go with it, I decided to ask the question we all needed to find out. “Vinnie, besides Mrs. Watson, has anyone else vanished?”
Vinnie looked up from making the bed. “From the Pines, you mean?”
“Yes, that’s what I mean.”
“Well, just one. We cain’t find Hank Brock neither. Y’all know him?”
“No, I don’t.” Mitch and Trail shook their heads as well.
“Well, Hank’s only been here a little under a year, so’s you boys might not know him lessen y’all went to his church.”
“His church?” asked Mitch, rather sharply.
“Yup, he was assistant pastor of that New Hope Community Church. Real nice guy. I liked Hank a whole lot better’n that slick Willie that’s the head preacher there now. Hank’s real, a down-to-earth, kind person… Vinnie paused, a look of concern evident on his face. “At least he was.”
“I wonder if the pastor is gone too,” said Mitch, thinking out loud.
“Nope, he ain’t,” said Vinnie. “He’s still here. He come runnin’ in here Saturday afternoon all het up lookin’ for Hank and mumblin’ stuff about EMP’s and clouds and Jesus and stuff. Wasn’t makin’ no sense a’tall to me.”
Trail chimed in. “What was his reaction when you told him Hank was gone?”
“He went about as white as that there sheet. I tole him Ms. W was gone too, and I thought he was gon’ bust into tears right there in the lobby. I got him a drink of water and tole him to sit down. Asked him if he wanted me to fetch Doc Barnette from over to the clinic to check him over. I didn’t want him havin’ no stroke or nuthin right there in the middle of the lobby, but he allowed as how he was fine; and in truth, the color was comin’ back to his face. I tole him that Hank’d probly show back up sooner or later – Ms. W too – although I don’t know no such thing. He just looked at me kinda funny-like and said, “No Mr. Sawyer, they aren’t coming back – at least not for a long while; and when they do, they won’t be the same as they were before. They are all safe now. It’s us who are in grave danger; we’re the ones who’ve been left here.”
“Was real peculiar,” said Vinnie.
“What’s this guy’s name, Vinnie,” asked Trail.
“I dunno… Farrell? Somethin’ Farrell. Last name’s Farrell anyways. I dunno his first name.” Vinnie walked towards the door.
“Wait Vinnie,” I said. “Before you go, do you know if that new church has a parsonage near the church like Calvary Baptist does?”
“I don’t think so. Big Mike might know though,” he said as he closed the door, leaving us on our own.
“I know,” said Mitch. I’d completely forgotten that he said his parents had gone to that church. “The pastor’s name is Will Farrell. Mom said he capitalized on that by trying to be a hipster funny guy like his Hollywood namesake. Mom and Dad didn’t like him much. I don’t know why they stayed at that church. Maybe they did like this Hank guy. Anyway, New Hope doesn’t have a parsonage. Farrell lives on the same street as the Church though, so he shouldn’t be too hard to find. About the Kingdom Hall, I have no clue. Can’t be many of them at all, and they’re likely as old as those at Calvary. Norrisville’s not exactly a thriving, growing metropolis.”
“Oh no! David’s letter!” I shouted. “We left it back at Mike’s.”
“No, we didn’t.” Mitch opened his shirt and pulled the envelope out. “I slid it inside my shirt before we left. I still didn’t want to read it in front of Mike and Clyde before we got a chance to read it first, and I didn’t want to leave it there. I don’t think they’d have read it, but I dunno; it’s addressed to me – to us. I want us to read it first, that’s all.”
“You sly devil,” said Trail, as a slight smile crept slowly across his face. “You and Bobby are certainly showing signs of latent criminal tendencies. First Bobby breaks into a preacher’s house, then you steal David’s bike, and now you hide that letter inside your shirt and sneak it out right under a cop’s nose. Very shady, boys. Very shady. Y’all gettin’ too criminal for me. I can’t have my sterling reputation besmirched hanging around riff-raff such as you two.”
“Shut up Trail,” both Mitch and I countered at the same time, but lightheartedly. “Besides,” I said, looking over at Mitch, “I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that: (A) Clyde already noticed that it was in your bag, and (B) he also knows that you snuck it out inside your shirt. Clyde may talk like a hillbilly hick, but he’s sharp as a dagger, and he misses nothing.
“You’re probably right. I just didn’t want to advertise it till we saw what’s in it first.”
Trail spoke up, again with that knowing expression. “Well, let’s see what Dave has to say. Although, I bet I know exactly what he’s going to say in that letter.”
I thought I did too, now; and I think Mitch did as well.
DAVID’S Letter – dated January 5, 2019
“Alright guys,” David’s letter began, “I have a lot to say, and since I don’t want this letter to end up being as long as War and PEACE (which it likely will be anyway), I’m going to jump right in.
I’m putting all this into a letter because I don’t think y’all will take me seriously if I try to tell you outright. None of you have been exactly receptive when I’ve tried to bring up matters of life and eternity. I’m not upset guys, just laying all the cards out on the table, so to speak. It’s vital that I be as clear and concise as possible because I’m really getting a sense that time is running out. I’ll do my best to explain.
First of all, I want to begin by making sure you understand that your eternal salvation is the most important decision you will ever make. I’m going to lay it all out for you, and then I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen if you keep putting off that most important choice and you end up being left behind after the rapture – about what’s going to happen if you keep going as you are. I love you guys. You are all brothers to me. We’ve spent our whole lives together as brothers from different mothers. I want us to spend eternity together as brothers in the family of God, so I’m going to give you the great news of eternal salvation that is available through Jesus Christ, but then I’m going to end with the most solemn warning I know; so consider this to be a Message From One of the Missing.
Secondly, you have to understand why salvation is so crucial. In order to do that, we all need to come face to face with what we are and why we need a Savior. When I say “we,” I mean everyone everywhere. See, the problem is that we are all born under what the Bible calls the curse of sin. Think of it this way: we, our spirits that’s us, the immortal part of us that never dies, is conceived infected, if you will, with a fatal spiritual flaw. The consequences of that defect of our spirit is that our immortal spirits are separated from the God who created us and everything that exists.
God is a Triune being – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. All three are separate and individual Persons, yet all three distinct Persons make up the ONE being who is God. There is only ONE God who eternally exists in THREE Persons. This concept of the eternally existent ONE God who exists as three distinct Persons is hard for our finite minds to grasp; nevertheless, it’s what is TRUE. Just like God is a triune being, so too is man. We are made up of body, mind and spirit.
When God created the first man and woman (Adam and Eve), He created them as an integrated whole; they were perfectly in tune with God, sinless up to the instant of their rebellion. Thus, they were able to fellowship and interact with God on a personal level. Now, God could have created them with no choice but to obey Him, like a machine that we create to serve our purposes; but He didn’t. God gave all sentient beings, both angelic and human, the ability to choose to love and obey Him or to choose to reject His love. God is love. In fact, because He is eternal, He is all powerful, all knowing, and always present everywhere. If He were not these things in His very essence, He would not be God.
God is the wellspring – the fountainhead of every superlative ideal that man has always aspired to reach. God is the perfection of all that is the essence of Love, Mercy, Grace, Justice, Honor, Holiness, and so forth. He is the ultimate of all those ideals. No created beings, angelic or human, can ever be greater than the One who created them. Thus, all created angelic and human beings had within them the potential to choose to obey or rebel. One third of the angelic realm chose to follow God’s highest angelic creation, Lucifer, in his rebellion. Lucifer became Satan, which means “adversary.” God gave to mankind – beings created as the Bible says, ‘a little lower than the angels.’
Mankind is lesser in intellect, lesser in power, and lesser in understanding than the angelic realm, yet it was to man – to Adam and all his progeny who would be born after him and from his lineage – it was mankind that God created in His image and gave all mankind a spirit like God’s own so that man and God could commune together in a way even the angels, though far superior to man in knowledge, intellect, and power, did not have. To man – to Adam and Eve, beings lower than the angels – God gave the ability to choose to live and obey Him or to choose to reject God’s one stipulation of obedience, or to follow their own way over His. Eve was beguiled by Satan in the guise of a serpent, but Adam knowingly and willfully chose to rebel against God’s one stipulation. It was through that one act of rebellion that sin entered the world (Genesis chapters 1-3).
Adam’s choice to disobey severed the spiritual connection between him and Creator God. The instant Adam chose to disobey, that perfect spiritual connection was immediately severed. What Adam lost was his intimate spiritual connection to his Creator. The consequence of that loss was that, not only did Adam, Eve, and all those conceived and born from them begin to die physically; but in that instant, the immortal part of them – their spirits – were immediately separated from God. As a result of Adam’s choice to rebel, the immortal, never-dying spirits of all mankind were forever separated from God, doomed to suffer the same eternal separation from God – doomed to endure the eternal torment that God had decreed for the rebellious Satan and the horde of rebelling angels who followed Satan into perdition. This is why mankind was lost and without hope.
Satan and the one-third of angelic beings who followed him are completely without hope of redemption, but God loved mankind so much, and having known even before He created man that mankind would rebel, it had already been decided among the Godhead that God the Son – the divine second Person of the Trinity – would clothe Himself in human flesh and would, in the fullness of time, be born into humanity through a young Jewish virgin, thus becoming God the Father’s “only begotten Son” – meaning the only one of His kind. God the Son would be the One and only God/Man – both fully human and fully divine (John 1:1-14; John 3:14-18). Only HE was qualified to pay in full the penalty that Adam’s sin incurred on behalf of all humanity. An infinite penalty was incurred so an infinite ransom had to be paid in order to satisfy the infinite justice.
This was a condition that no man could ever qualify to meet; a debt that no man could ever be able to pay. God chose to become a man so that HE could pay that penalty as a man in order that God’s justice could be satisfied. He ALONE could do this because, being both divine God untainted by sin and a sinless human man, He ALONE was qualified and able to endure the wrath of sin that God’s justice demanded. He ALONE, in satisfying that justice, was able to pay in full the penalty that God’s holy Justice demanded be paid.
By Jesus’ offering Himself in our place, He ALONE made possible, once and for all time, ALL that would ever need to be done to pay the penalty for sin that God’s infinite justice demanded. And because His sinless life, substitutionary death and bodily resurrection satisfied that justice, He ALONE can offer a full pardon for ANYONE who will only believe in Him – that is, anyone who will believe that Jesus is God in human flesh; believe that He died in our place to pay a penalty we could never pay; and believe that Jesus arose bodily from the tomb on the third day as the divine conqueror over Sin, Satan, and eternal Hell (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:47; Acts 16:30-31).
See, what I’m getting at is that Jesus–God the Son—did it all! He offered Himself as a ransom for “whosoever” is willing to believe in Him ALONE for salvation. He offers to all who will believe, a full pardon from the penalty of sin. For those who believe in Him alone as their Savior, to them He imputes (transfers) HIS perfect righteousness to cover the spirits of all who are tainted by the curse of sin. To ALL who are willing to believe in Jesus ALONE according to the scriptures, then to them He imputes His righteousness and gives to them the ability to become the sons of God. To all, who believe and trust in Jesus alone, to them He gives ‘eternal life’ (Romans 4:11; Romans 4:22; James 2:23; Romans 4:24).
See, in order to have that forgiveness, everyone must first ADMIT that we are sinners – utterly and completely helpless and hopeless to be, become, or do anything by our own efforts to remedy that. We must accept and admit that we can do NOTHING to make ourselves righteous enough to be in the presence of God. Neither can we do anything to KEEP our salvation once we have been granted it through our belief in what Jesus has already done. Salvation is wholly and completely accomplished and preserved by our faith ALONE, through His grace ALONE, in Jesus Christ ALONE (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-10).
In order to be saved we must:
Accept and admit the truth that we are all sinners in need of a Savior, and that we can’t do or become or have the ability in any way to become or stay saved by our own efforts which are, in God’s sight, nothing more than “filthy rags.” We must admit that we NEED a Savior.
We must believe that Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. We must believe and place our trust that He willingly became the sacrifice man needed, and that His death paid in full, once and for all time, the full penalty for man’s sins.
We must believe that Jesus resurrected BODILY from the tomb on the third day and that His resurrection sealed His complete victory over Satan, Sin, Death, and Hell for all eternity, and that victory guarantees eternal life for ALL who are willing to believe upon Him alone as their Savior.
Guys, I’ve gone into such detail on this because what you do with Jesus’ offer of salvation is the single most important choice you will EVER make. In fact, your choice on this will determine the eternal destiny of your spirits which are immortal and will continue to exist – fully aware, capable of thought, feeling, sensation, memory etc. – in an eternal state, either with God in His presence forever, or in a real literal place called the Lake of Fire for eternity.
Eternity is more real than anything we think is real here. This mortal life is temporary, but the life beyond this one is eternal, and you will spend forever either in a place of utter joy in the presence of the Lord and His believers, or in Hell and ultimately the Lake of Fire in eternal torment beyond what you can imagine, with all who have rejected God’s offer of salvation, in a place that God never intended for man to be; a dreadful place that Jesus, in fact, died in man’s place to offer a way of escape to anyone who is willing to believe. Jesus paid the ransom for our sin so that anyone who is willing may escape this place of eternal damnation.
Mitch, Jack, Bobby, Trail: the fact that, as far as I know, none of you has ever bothered to think about eternity is why I’m typing all this out. I need to tell you about the rapture, the Tribulation and all that’s headed towards this world like a runaway train. But first, before I do that, I must somehow impress upon you the eternal jeopardy you are all in every minute you remain lost unbelievers. It’s my greatest desire that y’all all become believers before the rapture happens, but from where I am at this point, it doesn’t look like it’s high on y’all’s priority list so far. If one or all of you are reading this now, then it means that the rapture has happened. And I, Mama Bertie, and my Granddad are now gone, and you’ve all been left here.
Okay, now on to explaining what has happened and what’s coming. How I pray that none of y’all have been left here to find this.
Mitch stopped reading here and looked up at Trail and me, his eyes streaming with tears. Trail was weeping quietly too, as was I. It was as if everything Grandpa and Grandma had ever told me about Jesus and salvation had come flooding back at once, knocking my well-built walls of complacency and pseudo-intellectual skepticism flat like soggy cardboard. Suddenly, I knew the awful truth, and now I was going to have to consciously deal with what I’d been running from for years. Trail had already made his choice; now Mitch and I found ourselves at a crossroads of choice that would determine our eternal destiny. I looked at Mitch and prodded, “Read on. Let’s finish hearing what he has to say.” Mitch nodded, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand and began again. I sat on my bed, my whole being shaken to the core.
“Okay,” David’s letter continued, “now pay close attention, and keep this letter with you, Mitch, or whoever has it, because I’m going to give you a quick run-down of what to expect and where to find out more that you will need to know. I will be giving you tons of scriptures to read, but I need to tell you now, if any of you choose not to believe in Jesus for salvation, then none of this will make any sense. Even worse, for those who refuse to believe on Jesus as Savior, God Himself has said that HE will send a ‘strong delusion’ so that all who willingly continue to choose to reject His salvation will not be able to understand anything; and those who refuse salvation will believe ‘THE LIE.’ In other words, God is going to allow those who WANT to reject Him to become so hardened in their choice that they won’t be ABLE to tell truth from lies.
RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH:
First off, I need to make it very clear what the Church is and is not. The true Church is (was) made up of all those who believe in Jesus as their Savior according to the scriptures. I can’t stress that last part enough. It’s not just a “head knowledge” like you believe that Jesus was an actual historical figure as opposed to, say, a myth, but that you believe in all that I explained above – that Jesus is God made flesh who dwelt among us, the only begotten Son of God who alone can ‘take away the sins of the world’ – the ONLY ONE through whom the salvation of men’s souls is made possible. See, that’s a critical distinction; those who belong to the true Church are (were) those who believed in Jesus alone for salvation, not ‘a’ Jesus made up from their own imagination, or not “Jesus AND their own good deeds,” but only those who believe in the Jesus of the Bible as defined by scripture (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
See, not everyone or every ‘church’ or even every belief system who flies (flew) under the banner of “Christian” was Christian as defined by scripture, and only those who are (were) believers according to the scriptures were part of the Church. The ‘Church Age’ began with the birth of the Church at Pentecost 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension back to Heaven (see Acts chapter 2). The Church Age ends (will end) with the rapture of the Church – the event when Jesus suddenly ‘snatches away’ all of the true Church. That event resurrects all dead believers from the time of Calvary right up to the instant of the rapture; and, in that nanosecond, changes all those still living from mortal to immortal. In that blink of an eye, ALL believers, both dead and living during the Church Age, will be changed and taken to Heaven. At the rapture, all who belong to the true Church and all babies and young children will simply vanish into thin air in the blink of an eye.
I can’t go into all of this in one letter, and y’all all have heard all this before. In addition to all the scripture references I’ve already given here, I want to let y’all know where to go to find a treasure trove of teaching information regarding salvation; especially information about the rapture and the coming Tribulation. It’s just too much info for me to put here. The website I’m going to direct you to is filled with every Biblical teaching you will need to know regarding the seven years of what the Bible calls The Tribulation; a seven-year period of time that will begin shortly after the rapture happens.
Mitch, you’ll need to find this site and mirror it or put it onto a thumb drive or whatever to make sure you can access it. I have a very strong feeling that after the rapture, this site and other true Christian websites, blogs, and YouTube channels – places where the truth according to the scriptures is told – will NOT be allowed to remain up and accessible for long. That’s why you need to find this site if at all possible, and make sure you and others can have access to it. Do this as soon as possible, Mitch, and help these other Neanderthals know how to access it too. You know that Bobby and Trail can barely turn on a computer, so you’ll have to walk these pool noodles through the post-rapture equivalent of the internet. (ha ha, boys just kidding – sorta). The name of this particular website is called (believe it or not) RAPTURE READY.
It will likely be difficult to find any Christian site, I think, after the rapture occurs because even now as I write this pre-rapture, genuine Christian/conservative content is already being scrubbed and/or purged from the internet. So, if you can, as soon as you can, locate Rapture Ready and dive in. Back everything up and secure it for as long as you are able.
From now on out, life won’t ever be anything even remotely normal, and it will get worse – much, much worse. I’m sorry guys, but you need to know the truth and prepare to deal with what’s coming. As much as I don’t want to say this, the truth is that it’s almost a certainty that most, if not all of you, will not live to see the end of these last seven years post rapture. That’s why it’s imperative that you accept Jesus as your Savior right now. All those who become believers AFTER the Church is raptured will NOT be part of the Church. The Church will be in Heaven. Those who do become believers post rapture WILL be Christians, you’ll just be Tribulation Christians or Tribulation believers.
Here are scriptures that tell about the rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-9; Titus 2:13; John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15 :50- 58; Hebrews 9:28; Romans 7:23; Revelation 3:10.
Now I’m going to list where you can find out about the coming seven-year Tribulation. What you need to understand is that everything that happens from here on out, the main purpose will be for God to fulfill certain unconditional promises to the nation of Israel (Genesis chapters 15-17). These last seven years are for God to punish this evil world, to prepare a remnant third of Israel for the coming Kingdom of God on earth (Zechariah 13:8-9), and for God to renovate this earth and renew it to the condition the earth was in before Adam fell.
During the Kingdom Age, Jesus will have returned to the earth along with the previously Raptured Church. He then will reign as Absolute Monarch over all the earth. His kingdom will last for one thousand years. He will reign from the revived throne of King David in Jerusalem, Israel.
Israel is the key to everything (Read Daniel chapters 2, 7, 9, 11 and 12, paying particular attention to chapter 9. The latter part of chapter 9 parallels the following passages since they all relate to events that will occur during this coming seven-year Tribulation; events that pertain to national Israel: Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21. All of these passages including Daniel 9:24-27 and Revelation 6:1-19:21 are all recounting events that will take place during the seven years of the Tribulation).
I’ve got to bring this in for a landing. I could literally fill a volume of books on all you need to know, but let me sum it up this way:
Watch for the sudden vanishing of millions, maybe even a billion people worldwide, including all babies and children who are too young to understand sin, eternity, and the eternal consequences of sin. When this happens, IT WILL BE THE RAPTURE. DO NOT believe whatever LIE is told to you TO try to explain away the vanishing. It WON’T have been aliens, or a leap in human evolution. IT WON’T have been an accident with CERN, or the Mandela Effect, or ‘mother earth’ – Gaia – cleansing itself, and it WON’T have been an accident, or a super-secret weapon or any number of variants of the LIE that Satan will put forth to try to explain away the rapture. Don’t believe ANYTHING or ANYONE who says anything other than what scripture tells you. This ‘event’ will have been the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy of the rapture of the Church. Anything else will be a variation on the Lie of Satan.
Watch for the complete and utter overnight destruction of Damascus, Syria (Isaiah 17:1).
Look for a likely nuclear event to occur where the Iranian nuclear plant is located in Bushehr. Elam is the ancient name of that area where Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant is located (Jeremiah 49).
Pay close attention because, very soon, most likely after the rapture occurs, there will be an invasion of Israel from the Golan Heights. This invasion will be led by Russia, Turkey, Iran, Libya and others. You can read about this invasion in Ezekiel chapters 38-39. These same countries will be called by their ancient names of Magog, Meshech, Tubal, and Persia. This coalition will invade Israel but God Himself will defeat them.
After this defeat, Israel will make a covenant with a man who will APPEAR to be a great peacemaker. His covenant will allow Israel to rebuild her Temple on its ancient site. Beware of this man, whomever he will be; in reality, he will be the Antichrist.
Okay, I’ve got to stop here, although there’s so much more you need to know, but this should help get you going in the right direction.
What I want y’all to do ASAP, should you still be here, is to go by my house. Take my bike, my jeep, my clothes (Bobby, you and I are about the same size), get all my food and my guns. Mitch, you know where they are. Take them all. Also, grab my Bible and the following books from my bookshelf: AN URGENT CALL TO A SERIOUS FAITH by Dave Hunt, and the 4-5 books I have by Dr Chuck Missler. Take any others you might find too, but DON’T forget the Bible.
Bobby, I strongly suggest that all y’all stay up on Yellow Top as much as possible. The towns, even Iverson and Norrisville, are going to become dangerous. Y’all can hunt, fish, and live off the land for a while; but I have to tell you, this is only temporary safety at best, and even that won’t last long. I want y’all to read Revelation chapters 6–11 to start with. Be sure you understand that everything that takes place in these chapters all the way up to what is called the second of three ‘woes’ in chapter 11 – ALL of these things will happen during the FIRST three- and one-half years. Watch for the man who will be the Antichrist. Watch for God’s two witnesses who will show up at the Temple almost immediately, and watch for any Jewish young men whom you may (or you may not) meet. If you find any believers or any believing Jews (not too many in Norrisville, but there might be), treat them well. Give your lives for them if necessary. Hide the weapons and especially hide and protect the Bibles and the RR site for as long as possible.
How I pray with all my heart that y’all come to belief now. How I pray that none of you will be here to find this letter; but if you are, please, I plead with you to believe in Jesus alone for salvation just as soon as you read this and realize what has happened. Don’t risk being eternally deceived by your own stubbornness in refusing to accept the truth. If the rapture occurs before y’all become believers, I pray with all my heart that you will believe as soon as possible after we in the Church will have gone. Please don’t wait.
For a moment, all three of us sat there stunned. I felt like my heart was hammering outta my chest. Mitch looked about three shades paler than usual. Only Trail seemed calm, though I knew he was anxious about me and Mitch – Harp to, wherever he was.
Mitch spoke first before I could begin: “I can’t even begin to deny the truth of what David has written, or what we’ve seen, or, Trail what you said about Mama B. I’m sorry I yelled at you. It wasn’t you I was mad at; it was myself because I knew you were telling the truth and I was…scared and ashamed; and what did David call it once, ‘under conviction’ by the Holy Spirit? Yeah, I felt ‘convicted’ alright. In fact, I’ve not been able to shake that conviction since I found my Mom and Dad gone.
“Whenever David last tried to talk to me about salvation, oh…I guess around Christmas last year, I knew God was dealing with my heart then, but I didn’t want to hear it or deal with it. If I had, I’d be with Dave and Mom and Dad right now; with Laurie and James and the kids too. Just think, I’ve always been one last heartbeat and one last breath away from Hell all this time. Trail, that’s why I yelled at you, because Mama B always said the same things Dave did. I don’t know about you, Bobby, but I’m done running. I’m done rationalizing, and I’m done procrastinating. I don’t know how to pray, so I’m just going to do the best I can.” Mitch began to pray with tears streaming down his face.
“God, I believe everything David and Mama B told me. I know I’m a sinner. I’m not the good guy I always thought I was. I’m lost and I know it, but if Your word says that what we have to do is believe and put our trust in Your sacrifice on our behalf, then Jesus, I believe. Please save me. If I have to give my life, worthless as it has been so far, then I’m willing to do that; just please save me and take my spirit to live with you when I die. I do believe you are God. I know I need a Savior. I believe you died for me – for me, and that You arose from the dead and are alive forever more. Thank You, my Lord.”
Mitch’s entire countenance changed. Even in the diminished light of the flashlight, I could see the change. He was still weeping, but his race radiated a peace and a joy that I certainly didn’t have – yet. Before either of them could say another word, I too bowed my head and, finally at last, knew that what my two best friends left here and the one in Heaven had now was what I wanted as well, more than anything in this life. Before God and my brothers, I admitted out loud, with absolutely no embarrassment or fear, that I too am a sinner in need of a Savior. I don’t know what all I did say outside of that truth – the truth that I too knew I was lost, that I believe that Jesus died, rose again and is the living God who died for me. All I know is that floodtide of memories hit me like a loaded Mack truck, and for the first time ever, I understood, and believed.
We all three sat there huddled together, praying unashamedly and without embarrassment. Finally, Trail, wiping his tear-streaming eyes, said, “Boys we’ve got a lot of riding to do tomorrow. We better get some shut-eye. But you know what? We started this day out thinking we were brothers, but we’re ending it knowing that we are brothers for eternity. We’re part of God’s family now; and even though we’re never going to be part of the Church like Dave and Mama and all the others already gone home are, still, we’re part of God’s family, and we’ll be with them all in seven-years’ time…max, if not before. ‘Oh, Lord Jesus,’ implored Trail, as he turned off the flashlight by which we had read David’s letter, “if they don’t already know it, will you let Mama and David know we’re all three part of the family now, and we’ll be seeing them soon? Thank you, Lord. Amen.”
We all three lay down in beds that were not our own, in a place that was not our homes, in a world that had become dark and uncertain. Still, we three lay at peace, closer than ever in a way we’ve never been before. We didn’t yet know much about what we would soon be facing, but we closed our eyes that night knowing that from here on out, whatever surprises or horrors we would face, we knew that good or bad, easy or hard, live or die, we now belonged to God. We were now Tribulation Brothers.
As it turned out, the next day held two big surprises, both of which would impact us all – especially me.