Journal Entry: Sunday, September 18, 2022
Something is wrong. It’s already been three weeks past the latest estimated time for them to return. I’m trying to keep hope in their safety alive, but I can admit, at least here in private, that I’ve more than halfway expected something like this all along – since even before they left. Of course, they still could be okay. Any number of things could have held them up, preventing them from making it back on time. They could be out at the farm with Jet Reese. They could have gathered such a huge haul that the problem is the logistics of how to best get everything back safely. It could be taking longer than they expected searching the outlying houses on the town’s perimeter, or…they could, as I greatly fear, have run into real trouble and are having to lay low…or worse. Uri’s story he told us the night before they left keeps coming back to my mind more and more often.
Trail and Sarah are worried too. I can see it in their eyes as I know they can in mine. Izzy has become even more quiet than she usually is. In her sixties now, she’s not as spry as she used to be. Hard physical labor, worry, and never enough food to eat has taken a toll on her. The rest of us, particularly Sarah, have begun to shoulder more and more of Izzy’s tremendous load now that the others are gone, but I think what is really slowing her down, weighing on her, is that she too fears that something we don’t dare think about might have happened.
It’s time to go haul water and see to the 7 remaining hens we have left. I’ll write again in a while, Journal. Maybe tomorrow there’ll be something to report besides my worry.
Journal Entry: Tuesday, October 4, 2020
Today is my birthday. I’m twenty-nine years old today. So much has happened since the day of the rapture on October 3, 2019 – one day before my birthday. Way back then, I was on the cusp of turning twenty-six. On the evening of my birthday, my friends and I had planned to meet in town for a birthday celebration at our favorite restaurant, the Mellow Onion, the only pizza joint in Norrisville. That celebration never happened because the rapture happened first. Our best friend David Johnson, among other loved ones who were believers in Christ, part of His true Church, were taken to Heaven ‘in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye’ when the rapture occurred. The rest of us who were unbelievers, we who were lost were left behind. There’s been a lot of water that has flowed under that fabled bridge since that event in the early morning hours of October 3, 2019. Now here I am three years older, almost out of my twenties. After a year living in Norrisville, I’m back at home on Yellow Top, married to the love of my life. But like that birthday three years ago, I am once again waiting for a reunion with my friends; another much anticipated reunion that I now know will also never come; not on this sin-blighted earth again; not until Jesus returns and inaugurates His thousand-year kingdom on a renovated and regenerated earth.
I should have written this down before now, but I just couldn’t; not immediately. Now I sense it’s time for me to tell the story.
The only thing that keeps the rest of us going is knowing that in three- and one-half years’ time, we will all be together again. But, for the short term, our number is now down to only four.
We’ve known what happened to our Tribulation family who were on an expedition to find food, ever since the day after my last journal entry, but I’ve just not had the courage or the heart to set it all down. I must do that now, though, even if I’m not at all ready to relive in memory all that we learned about what they endured.
Nevertheless, I must record what we now know because that is what I am meant to do. We know what happened – exactly what happened, to our family. Until Jesus returns, we’ve lost them all in one way or another, and now, Uri has left us too. Our Izzy is still with us in body, but ever since Mitch and the others left in July, over the past twelve weeks, our dear Izzy’s mind has begun to… I don’t know… to slip? to shut down? I’m not sure which it is. Now, though, ever since we’ve learned what happened to all of our Tribulation family, the light has gone out of her eyes, although she is still as hard-working and devoted to the rest of us as she’s ever been. But there’s something missing in her or perhaps it’s just that her heart has grown tired.
Most of the time she remains our calm, dependable Izzy, but there are moments, more and more often now it seems, when we see her pause, confusion in her dear old eyes as her once sharp mind seems to cloud over for a minute or so.
Alright, enough stalling, Bobby. Get it down.
Here is what happened.
Very early in the morning, the day after my last Journal entry, I was sitting by the fire early in the predawn hour around 5AM. I hadn’t been able to sleep. In truth, I’d not really slept well since before Clyde and the others left. Anyway, I’d been up for about an hour. I got up as quietly as I could, leaving Sarah sleeping, not wanting my constant thrashing around to awaken her. In the quiet solitude of the early morning while the others lay sleeping, I got up to sit in the darkness of the great room, rocking by the banked fire, watching the glow of the embers wax and wane. I sat there thinking and mulling over in my mind all the possible issues and dangers that Mitch and the others might be facing. I knew that in less than an hour or so the household would begin to awaken, but I wasn’t quite ready to desecrate this quiet solitude just yet. Within about a half hour after I’d been up, though, I was surprised to see Uri coming in from outside.
In mid-September on the mountain, especially now that the skies stay dark almost all the time, the temperature stays below freezing during the night and early morning hours, yet here Uri was coming in from the porch. I started to greet him to ask if he wanted a cup of coffee. We have an old-fashioned campfire coffee pot that we use for the rare times we make coffee. Clyde and I are the only two real coffeeholics here, so our coffee stores have held out pretty well. But since the fire hadn’t yet been built up, all I could offer to make was instant. I didn’t get the words out of my mouth before the look on Uri’s face stopped me cold.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, feeling my insides go to jelly and my heart begin to hammer.
“Bobby, my brother, …we need to talk,” Uri replied, for the first time ever refusing to meet my eyes.
“Right now? Alone?” I asked.
“No. I need to speak with everyone – all together,” he replied. At that moment, I saw Sarah coming out of our room, and it wasn’t but a minute or so later that Trail and Izzy came downstairs too. Trail and Uri had taken to bunking in the girls’ rooms while they were gone, getting a chance to sleep in real beds instead of mattresses on the floor.
Within an hours’ time after we’d fed the chickens, brought in more wood from the wood pile in the shop, built up the fire, and eaten a small breakfast of oatmeal with honey that Sarah made, we took our places in the great room. The four of us looked at Uri expectantly. Sarah, sitting on one of the couches beside me, was gripping my hand hard. Trail sat next to Izzy on the other couch. Uri took his seat in his favorite rocking chair by the fire facing us. We knew that whatever he had to say was going to be something we didn’t want to hear, but we couldn’t imagine what it might be.
“There is no easy way to say what I need to say, my dear friends, so I will just tell it outright. God has given me a vision. It was not a dream, for I was wide awake sitting outside on the porch when I was given this vision.
I awoke very early this morning around three o’clock, I think. Bobby, you are not the only one who has had a heavy heart and worrying mind that robs the body of sleep. I could not sleep either. My heart has been heavy for the past several months. To be honest, ever since summer began in June, I have felt a heaviness of heart; a restlessness stirring inside me. I have prayed and prayed and gotten no clear answer until this morning.
As I said, I awoke around 3AM. I arose and dressed warmly, sensing a strong prompting in my spirit that I should go outside to sit on the porch where it was quiet and where I could be away from everyone should anyone awaken early.” Here he paused, smiling at me. “As I sat there,” Uri resumed, “dressed warmly and wrapped in my quilt, I felt none of the freezing cold I should have experienced. But I was not cold; I felt warm and comfortable. I sat praying; for how long I do not know. At some point, I heard in my spirit the voice of the Lord. It was exactly like the time when the Lord spoke to me at the signing of the covenant. Yeshua spoke to me clearly,
‘Uri Benjamin, My brother. I have heard your prayers and the prayers of My fellow brethren. I will show you now what has happened and reveal to you what you must do next. Behold’:
“Before me, the surroundings of where I was dropped away, and I saw as if I were an observer, the town of Norrisville. I saw that our friends had made it safely into town. I was given to know that they had been only slightly successful in finding food and other provisions because the entire town had been… what is the word? ransacked already.
There was no one left in town; not in the outlying areas, nor at the farm of Amos Brazeale. The entire town lay barren and desolate as if it had been abandoned for a long time.
What I will say to you next, the Lord Yeshua impressed upon me to tell you verbatim. I will tell you what I saw and what I heard so that your hearts may be comforted. I was given to know by the Lord many things that I myself did not know and could not have known about your lives when you lived in town, and of the people you knew. I am to relate to you exactly what occurred.
After our brethren made it into town, as I said, they saw that the town was empty. Not merely empty and devoid of people, but ransacked; homes and businesses defaced, and in some cases, destroyed. Houses and businesses had been broken into with windows smashed, locks broken off of doors, debris strewn everywhere. As I said, the Lord showed me places and gave me to know and understand things I could not have known. Bobby, the home where you and Mitch lived with Trail; the one that had also been the clinic, had been broken into; the clinic and pharmacy gutted. Sarah, the home where you girls lived, it too had been trashed; furniture smashed and broken. As they moved together through town, they saw this kind of damage everywhere. Sitting in the upstairs living area of what had once been Dr. Barnett’s home and clinic, where later Trail, Bobby, and Mitch had lived, they gathered to discuss what they should do next…
“I don’t like this. I don’t like this nary a bit,” said Clyde. “My hinky meters jumpin’ off’n the scale. Sumpin’ here ain’t right. This whole place don’t feel right.”
“I agree,” said Mitch. “It’s one thing to have the town abandoned, but having it… ripped open; gutted is something else. There’s a feeling of anger, maybe even rage in what we’re seeing.”
“What’s eerie is that nobody’s here,” said Byllie.
“Even the farm was abandoned. In fact, it appeared that Jet left in a hurry. Did you notice that his place at the table was set as if for a meal; as if he’d been prepared to eat but something or someone interrupted him?” asked Little-John.
“Everywhere we’ve been looks and feels… off,” said Lilly. “I don’t mind admitting it; I’m spooked.”
“From now on till we git outta here, I want everbody ta stay alert an’ stay tight together. I don’t want none o’ y’all goin’ off ahead o’ t’others. I thank we ought to cut our losses and head home, but first I’d like ta check out the PD to see if Rod is still around,” said Clyde. “We already know Pete Grey’s gone an’ Jet Reese is gone too. Thar ain’t nobody aroun’. I dunno know iff’n their bein’ gone is jest a normal consequence of everthang that’s happened; I guess it could be, but this tearin’ up o’ th’ whole town ain’t a’tall normal in my book. I smell sumpin’ savage, but not with my nose.” replied Clyde. “I want ta check two more places iff’n y’all thank we should. After we look in on Rod, I thank we oughta check out Mike’s Store. I’d like ta look fer sum lamp oil, an some o’ t’other stuff Izzy wanted. Does everyone agree? Iff’n ya don’t, then say so. I ain’t the boss. We all git equal say,” replied Clyde.
“I agree on one condition. If there’s nothing wrong at the police department, then I say we check out Big Mike’s store, but if we get to the PD and anything’s wrong or even just off like at the farm, then I say we leave straight off,” said Mitch.
“Fair ‘nough.” said Clyde as the others nodded in agreement.
As they made their way to the police station, there was evidence of gunfire in many of the buildings downtown.
“Y’all stay with us, but let me’n the Chief go in first, girls. Y’all stay behind us. Mitchell, you bring up th’ rear. You three cover us from behind. We’ll go upstairs first to check out th’ courthouse, an th’ mayor’s office an’ sech first, then we’ll make our way down an’ check out th’ PD, an’ the jail cells afore we head over ta Mike’s,” said Clyde.
All was empty upstairs, but as they reached the police department, Chief Little-John called back.
“Mitch, come take a look, but you girls hold back. Don’t bother coming in. There’s no use.”
“Is Rod in there?” asked Mitch.
“He’s there, but he’s not alive,” answered Little-John.
After several minutes, Clyde came back out. His color was high and his jaw set. When he came out, he was as angry as I’ve ever seen him.
“Chiefs right. Rod’s in thar awright; his throat’s been cut – from behind; an’ from th’ look o’ thangs, he ain’t been dead more’n a couple o’ days. I thank we ought ta make tracks right now an’ head home. I dunno what’s happened in this town, but we ain’t safe stayin’ here no longer,” said Clyde, tersely.
As they began to move away from the police department onto Main Street proper, Little-John spoke in a quiet voice.
“I agree with Clyde. Let’s go, but stay in line one behind the other all together. Stay close but not too close. Give yourselves room to move. Walk as quietly as you can. Keep your ears wide open and your necks on a swivel. Mitch, you be point man. I’ll go behind you; you girls stay in the middle. Clyde will have our six. Have your guns at the ready, but keep the safety on. From here, we’ll head straight to Catherine Street, going the back way around towards Highway 29 into Briarwood, then from Briarwood on towards Lickskillet Road, then out to Old Mill Road and back up the mountain. Alright, let’s go.” Little-John whispered.
As they moved into the street, all at once from the doorway of Mike’s General Store, a man stepped out facing Mitch. He was wearing a side arm, but the weapon remained holstered.
“Well my, my. Look who the cat dragged in. Hello, Mitch. Long time no see,” said the young man, affably.
“Jack? Jack Harper?!,” asked Mitch, in total astonishment.
“In the flesh and at your service,” replied Jack Harper, wearing an easy grin. “Finally made it back, and wouldn’t you know it, nobody’s home – anywhere.”
“We thought you were dead! Big Mike thought you were dead! Where’ve you been for the past nearly four years?” asked Mitch.
“Oh, that’s a story that needs telling, Mitch old man. Let’s all go into Nan’s Diner and sit a spell. I’ll tell you all about it. Hello to you too, Clyde. By the way, who are these two fine-looking female warriors you got traveling with you, and who’s the Indian Mountain there?” asked Jack.
“At this point,” said Uri, interrupting his narrative, “the Lord made me to know what Mitchell was thinking and what was in his heart. He was at first both astonished and glad to see his friend, but the Lord quickly impressed upon Mitch’s spirit very strongly not to trust this man who had once been his lifelong friend, and not to tell him anything at all about the rest of us or where we were. The Lord impressed this warning upon Clyde’s heart as well.” Taking up his narrative again, Uri continued.
“These ladies,” Mitch said, a harder edge to his voice, and giving the word ladies a slight stress, “are friends of mine. In fact, they are both like sisters to me; and the gentleman beside me is Chief Little-John Redfern, who is also a dear friend of mine, so I’ll ask you to address them with respect, Jack. You know, the way your parents and Big Mike taught you to speak when addressing other people,” said Mitch, straightening his stance and dropping any semblance of friendliness in his tone of voice.
A fleeting flash of hardness and anger flickered across Jack’s face, but was gone in an instant, replaced by a derisive smile. Giving a mocking half bow, Jack replied,
“My apologies, ladies; Chief, I meant no disrespect. Mitch, I’m surprised Bobby and Trail aren’t with you. Where are they? I’m guessing I already know what happened to David,” said Jack.
“Haven’t seen Bobby or Trail either in a while,” said Mitch, smoothly evading Jack’s question.
“Well now, I’d like to hear all about what’s happened. Whatdaya say we go into the diner where we can sit and be more comfortable,” said Jack, sweeping his hand in the direction of the diner.
“Thanks, but no,” said Clyde. “We got ta be on our way, young master Harper. Were ya by any chance wonderin’ whar yer parents an’ Big Mike might be? Well, I’ll tell ya anyways. Yer parents went in th’ rapture along with David Johnson in October o’ 2019, and we buried Mikey, yer granddad, out t’ Amos’ farm. Big Mike died from th’ flu epidemic that hit th’ town early in 2020.” said Clyde.
“What a pity,” said Jack, with no feeling at all.
“What is wrong with you, Jack?” asked Mitch, hotly. “You’re acting like a total jerk! This pompous, I-don’t-give-a-hoot attitude isn’t like you at all! You act like you don’t care that your parents and David are gone or that Big Mike is dead! Do you care that he worried about you till the day he died?! We buried him, you know. Clyde and I dug his grave with our own hands! What’s wrong with you? Just where have you been for almost four years, and why are you back in Norrisville now, after all this time?”
“It’s a long story, Mitch. Let’s just say that I managed to survive Asheville when it burned. Then I made my way into South Carolina to Greenville where I met up with a few friends of mine. Once Lucius Draken came to power, things began to shape up and civility be restored. President Draken has set up an EP proviso government in Colorado here in the US just as he has done in other countries. Since there is no Washington DC any longer, and since all the disasters that have hit this country, there is no longer any functional American government left either. In truth, there is no longer any America or any other once sovereign nation since President Draken dissolved all the old archaic national borders and national boundaries. The world is at last united and is finally under the command of a true global leader. My new friends and I joined the EP Global Peace Protection Force earlier this year as soon as we were able. I’m a lieutenant in the GPPF. We proudly serve under Global President Draken,” said Jack, proudly.
“I don’t recall any of us Americans deciding we wanted to disband our country to become a cog in a globalist dictatorship,” said Mitch, with disdain. “So, you’re in the army now, huh Jack? Made rank kinda fast, didn’t you? You aren’t in uniform. Is Draken such a loser and a tightwad that he hands out ranks for junior grade officers like M&M’s? Can’t he afford to get you guys uniforms? ” observed Mitch, drily. Again, that flash of rage flitted across Jack’s face, but he strove to keep his temper in the face of Mitch’s goading.
“Lucius Draken has done what no one else has been able to do – not Charlemagne, not Napoleon, not Hitler. Draken is the one who has at long last united the world! And just so you know, we have quite nice uniforms. I’m just not in mine today. We’ve been sent to do recon in some of the smaller mountain towns. Today, before we leave the area for good, I wanted to have one final look at my old stomping grounds, before heading back to our headquarters in SC.”
“Who tore up the town, Jack?” asked Mitch, quietly.
“Aww, the boys were just letting off a little steam. Besides, what do you care? The town was practically deserted anyway,” replied Jack, shrugging.
“Obviously, it wasn’t completely deserted. What happened to Orson Reese, or Pete Grey, or the Riddles out on Mountain Laurel Road? Where’s Bill Rogers, or Jim Casey, or Leroy Whitten? What happened to the Police Chief, Rod Weaver? How’d he end up with his throat cut from behind?! How’d that happen, Jack?!” roared Mitch, now stepping in nose to nose with Jack Harper. Backing up a step, Jack shrugged and said,
“Well, one of the boys did get a little out of hand. He’s a new recruit, and I guess he just got a bit nervous seeing as how the officer was armed,” replied Jack, matter of factly.
“Armed?” roared Mitch, losing all control. “Armed? Of course, he was armed, you snake! He was the Chief of Police! His throat was cut from behind, Jack! What on earth has happened to you?! You’re not the same Jack who was my friend!!” yelled Mitch, now red-faced and panting.
“No, I am not the same old Jack” yelled Harper, finally losing his cool. “I am Lt. Harper of the GPPF now. Even long-time friendship has its limits, Mitch, so don’t goad me and don’t cross that line any further! Why are you so bent out of shape anyway? As I recall, you’ve never been that passionate about the old red, white, and blue flag, country, Mom, and apple pie before; nor has Norrisville ever been that high on your priority list, as I recall,” said Harper.
“I’ve always loved my country, Jack, and my town; but before Rapture Day happened, I was a clueless fool, as were all of us who got left behind,” said Mitch.
“Rapture Day,” said Jack, with utter disdain. “Wait a minute, you haven’t become one of those christians, have you?” He spat the word from his mouth as if he had bitten into a piece of offal. “Oh. My. Word. You have! And you too, Clyde? You have too, haven’t you?” asked Jack, understanding dawning and open contempt dripping from his words.
“Yes.” replied both Clyde and Mitch in sync.
“We are all believers,” said Mitch, now calm and in control of his temper again. “I can see that you’re not the Jack I grew up with. I also see that you’ve bought into the lie of the Antichrist Draken hook, line, and sinker.”
Suddenly, Jack’s right fist shot out, hitting Mitch in the face. Mitch staggered under the blow, but he kept his balance and remained calm, not attempting to reach for his weapon. As one, though, all of the others raised their weapons, pointing them at Jack, but Mitch raised his hand to stop them.
“Sorry about that, Mitch,” said Jack, struggling to regain his composure. “Look, we’re all a bit tense; let’s go inside the diner and talk this out. What do you say?”
“No. We’re leaving now. Just go on back to wherever you came from, and we’ll be on our way,” said Mitch.
“Well, suit yourselves. I tried,” said Jack, shrugging his shoulders, “but I’m afraid we can’t allow you to leave. See, our orders are to round up and take with us anyone who is a traitor to Euro-Phoenicia and President Draken. Now, don’t worry Mitch; this unpleasantness and misunderstanding doesn’t have to turn into a situation. You can still have a chance to join the new Order of the Phoenix – all of you can still have that chance. President Draken will very shortly be initiating the Mark of the Phoenix all around the earth, but it’s available now on a voluntary basis to anyone who will willingly join the Order of the Phoenix in some capacity. When we get to South Carolina, all of you will be given the chance to take the mark and join us by pledging your loyalty to President Draken and the Order. I’ve already taken the mark. It was a piece of cake. It’s just a little… okay… a big sting in the flesh of your right hand where a little chip is inserted, then it’s done. Or you can opt for the tattoo that is also a biometric interface placed into your forehead. That option is pretty popular; but either place, hand or forehead, will work. Besides, I understand that soon the Global Mark of the Phoenix will not just be available, but required for everyone sometime next year anyway. Why not get ahead of the curve and get yours now?” smiled Jack.
“Oh Jack,” said Mitch, staring at Jack Harper with a look of both horror and infinite sadness.” Now you’re eternally lost. How I pity you. But you might as well know this right now; we, none of us, will ever take that mark.”
“I see. In that case,” said Harper, coldly, “I strongly advise you all to very slowly and carefully take your fingers away from the triggers of your guns and lay your weapons on the ground slowly and carefully. Do it right now; you’re surrounded.”
From doorways in front of and behind them came a squad of heavily armed and uniformed EP soldiers.
“Well, I tried, old buddy,” said Jack Harper in mock sadness. “See, Mitch; the thing is, we’ve known you were in town. From the minute you set foot on David’s property, we’ve been following you, keeping tabs on where you went and what you were doing. I can guess where you’ve all been staying,” Jack smiled, sardonically.
Turning to speak to the soldier beside him, Jack said, “Take them all and put them with the others to be transported to SC; all but him,” he said, jerking his head back towards Mitch. “I need to talk to him about the whereabouts of a couple of other mutual friends we have in common.”
“Now, let’s see,” said Jack, “where might Bobby and Trail be? Let me think. Oh, I know,” he said in a mocking tone, taking a couple of steps back and to the side of Mitch and the others. “I bet I know exactly where I’ll find my other old buddies and anyone else who may be hiding out with them.” Looking around at the men surrounding Clyde and the girls, Jack said,
“I told you guys I’d eventually let you in on that little secret I’ve been keeping. I know exactly where we’re likely to find some other people hiding out; I’ll take y’all t…”
“But,” said Uri, “Jack never finished his sentence. At that moment, Clyde jerked up his shotgun and blew Jack Harper’s head off. Clyde was immediately fired on and went down. Before they could move, both girls were fired on and hit, instantly killing them too. Amazingly, Mitch was not hit, but Little-John was grazed in the arm by a bullet. Both he and Mitch were quickly surrounded and knocked out with the butts of rifles, then handcuffed. When they came around, they were in a troop transport alongside a handcuffed Jet Reese and Pete Grey and a few others whose names I do not know. They were being taken to one of the big detention centers in Greenville, South Carolina,” said Uri.
“What I saw next, I was not given to know the exact time of when it took place, but I get the impression that what I saw happened only a week or two ago.” Here Uri paused, looking down; and when he lifted his head, tears were streaming down his face.
“What I saw was an armed compound encased in barbed razor wire. The place looked to be what was once called a big box store, like a Walmart or a Lowes? I do not know these places, but I see from your faces that you do. At any rate, this place and many others like it all over the inhabited areas of America have been adapted to be holding pens for prisoners. Some of them are still used as large distribution centers, and some of them serve as…” here he paused”… as execution centers.”
At the place where Mitch and Little John were held, there were large containers stacked ten to fifteen feet high. These containers are being used as multiple person, disposable coffins because there were… guillotines there as well.
In that place lined up before a jeering crowd of EP soldiers and other people in civilian clothing, I saw men whose names I heard to be Orson or Jet Reese and Pete Grey. There were many, many others with them, both men and a few women, but I was not given to know who they were or where they were from. Among the throng, I saw Mitch with Chief Little-John standing beside him. All the men of Norrisville stood together; their faces were calm.
They bore absolutely no sign of fear or panic in their eyes or in their demeanor. Their countenances shone with perfect peace and joy. I saw that they were at peace, and as I watched them, I also felt their peace and joy. In fact, the Lord let me hear what they were saying to each other. They were giving praise to God and encouraging each other as the executions began.
Mercifully, Lord Yeshua spared me having to… to watch them die. I did not see that, but as the vision faded, the Lord spoke clearly to me and said, “Uri, tell my brethren this: they were faithful unto death.”
Here, Uri halted for a moment, then resumed.
“The final thing my vision revealed to me was that my time among you has come to an end. I am to be ready to go very soon. Yeshua did not tell me when I would be leaving or where I will be going, but I feel strongly that I may be heading home – to Israel. There are no words to tell each of you how much I love you. You have become to me as part of my very own heart. Our Lord will bless you greatly. All that you have done for me, you have surely also done for Him. I do not think that we will see each other again in this dying world, but we will all – all be together in the Kingdom,” Uri finished.
By this time, Journal, Sarah was sobbing openly, great heaving sobs that racked her body. Trail, Uri, and Izzy were weeping, and I was both weeping and raging on the inside. I wanted to run, to yell, to hit something; to vent my fury. I wanted to go into Norrisville right now, find that lying, Judas betrayer Jack Harper and shoot his dead body again and again until he was nothing but a bloody pulp. I was pacing the cabin like a caged lion. Finally, Trail grabbed me and shook me like a rag doll.
“Go outside and yell if you need to. Go take a long walk in the woods if you need to. Go throw rocks in the river if you need to, but for goodness sake Bobby calm down! Don’t you go doing something stupid like trying to put your fists or your feet through any tree trunks or barn doors. I can’t fix any broken hands or feet, and you’d better stop right now and think about Sarah! She needs you and I need you. You can’t afford to go off half-cocked, acting like a fool!” he said, more sternly and with more intensity than he’s ever spoken to me before. Then his old gentle nature kicked in. Trail grabbed me and hugged me and said with infinite tenderness, “I know, Bobby. I know.”
I laid my head on his big shoulder and wept as I have rarely wept before except in childhood. In a few moments, all five of us were huddled together, weeping and praying. After some unknown amount of time, we gathered ourselves together and carried on. We went on in obedience to our Lord, and in honor of our family: Clyde Norris, Chief Little-John Redfern, Lilly and Byllie Duncan, and Mitch Graham; those of us who have gone on ahead into Glory to await the coming Kingdom.
Three days later, we called Uri to breakfast but he didn’t come. Neither was there any sign of him anywhere outside. When we went to check his room, we found this note:
“My dearest family, it is time for me to leave. I want to tell you again how much I love you all. Do not be discouraged and do not be afraid no matter what lies ahead. Yeshua is returning, and with Him will come the kingdom. Shalom, my dearest family in the Lord. I will see you all in the Kingdom. Remain faithful, even unto death.
I know that all that has happened is part of God’s perfect will and plan. We each recognize this and are coming to acceptance of it; heartrending as it is at times. There are still times when despair threatens to overtake me like being hit from behind by an unexpected rogue wave. I know this is true for Sarah, Trail, and Izzy as well as for me. How hollow we, I, sometimes feel. How quiet and empty the cabin is now. Even in the chasm of our loss – a well of pain so deep that at times it feels it’s as if we have been sucked underwater, unable to resurface to catch our breath – even in those times, Jesus is here, bringing His peace that passes all understanding. Even in the worst of our despair, we have the hope – no, that’s not right – we have the certainty that all of our believing family whom we love and have temporarily lost are not really lost to us at all. We know exactly where they are, and we know that in a little over three and a half years’ time, we will be with them again. This time for forever. That is our certainty.
Those debilitating, paralyzing spasms of despair come upon us less and less, though, as time moves on. We remind ourselves daily that these attacks come straight from the enemy of our souls. I know this; we all do, yet regardless of the depth of pain and loss we have endured or may yet endure, we no longer give in to despair. We are not destitute or defeated! When our hearts break, there are three words that immediately lift our spirits – not because they are magical or incantatory, but because they are absolute truth! Those words are ‘It is written!’
Because God has told us the end from the beginning through His infallible Word, we already know that for all who love and believe on Jesus, even the darkest valley leads to Christ’s soon coming glorious kingdom. Through all of the pain, our Good Shepherd is indeed leading, oftentimes carrying us, through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. We fear no evil.
We are now very close to the midpoint of the Tribulation. We have lived through nearly half of these last seven years, yet the worst of it still lies before us. Amazingly though, our Lord is gently leading us to the place where we can rejoice in the knowledge that our beloved Tribulation family who have died or been killed are now forever past suffering. They are forever past starvation. They are forever past sickness, pain, and fear; forever past the reach of the evil one. Death holds no terror for them. Satan holds no power over them. They are safe. They are free. They are Home. They are at rest before the emerald encircled throne of God. This is our peace, our joy, and our comfort. Whatever lies before us, we rejoice. As our brother Uri so often reminded us, ‘Our Good Shepherd is leading us all the way.’
END OF BOOK 1 –
TO BE CONTINUED…