by Sandy Kay Slawson
Shaylee Reed didn’t believe it now any more than she did before. Before the world—her world, crashed around her. Literally. One moment the drive home from school with her mom had been the same as usual.
“How did your day go?” said her mom.
“Fine,” said Shaylee in her normal every day response.
“Anything interesting happen?”
“How did you do on your Science test?”
“I don’t know, maybe ok.”
Same old. Same old. Mom asked questions and Shaylee gave her rote responses. No big deal. They could discuss all that stuff some other time. Who wanted to think about school right after school? Let her play her game and forget about it for a while. Except, the next moment, before the next question could be asked or answered, Shaylee hung upside down surrounded by glass and blood--her own blood. Though afraid of the state her mom might be in, Shaylee adjusted her position until the driver’s side of the car came into view. Empty. Her mother’s clothes, shoes, purse, phone—everything lay topsy-turvy in the car, but her mom had disappeared.
Five days later Shaylee clutched her blankets against her chin. When released from the overwhelmed, chaotic mess at the hospital four days ago, Shaylee made her way home through the wreckage her city had become. According to the conversations around the hospital and city, the whole world had become a disaster zone. Military vehicles roamed the streets, curfews enforced, and everyone left in the world had lost their minds. Frozen somewhere between shock and terror after the search for her family proved fruitless, Shaylee’s bedroom became her refuge, but hiding in her bed wasn’t an option any more.
“Where are you?”
“Take me, too. Please. Take me, too.”
How did a person’s family simply vanish? How did millions of people vanish? Why didn’t whoever or whatever let her go with them?
Looters roamed her neighborhood the last two nights. So far Shaylee’s house had been spared, but to risk the loss of the food and supplies in the house because of fear didn’t seem the wise choice. This would have been her mom’s weekly grocery trip day, which meant groceries and supplies were low. How to replace the necessities when they were gone could be dealt with later. Water and electricity had been restored, even cable TV and the Internet, but when the bills came in…
The news broadcast from around the world terrified her. Games and shows meant less than nothing. If they cut it all off, then so be it. Nothing mattered at this moment except survival.
Last night a group of thieves broke into the house across the street. They left with pillowcases stuffed full. A plan took shape in her mind. For the first time since arriving home, she showered and dressed in real clothes. After a light breakfast, Shaylee set the plan in motion. First, she emptied the cupboards of any food, which could be eaten without cooking, and every supply that might be useful--antibiotic cream, bandages, antiseptic, toothpaste, and toilet paper. The cans, boxes and bags were packed into bags, backpacks, and small suitcases. One backpack, held clothes and other essentials to be grabbed if a quick escape were necessary. Into that backpack she added a manual can opener, fork, knife, spoon and plastic bowl.
In the case of a robbery, the thieves could deal with the cold stuff, which remained in the house, and the problem of refrigeration. Shaylee hid the bags all around the house--the basement, the attic, under beds, in the back of closets, even in the shed out back. If someone broke in, they wouldn’t leave her with nothing.
“What if they try to hurt me?”
The day after her accident, on the way home, she’d seen two people mugged. One of them tried to fight back, but had been hit with a baseball bat. He lay unconscious on the ground. Shaylee had been too numb to dwell on it at the time, but she couldn’t hide from the truth anymore.
“I’m all alone. If someone comes, I have to protect myself.”
Shaylee headed to her parents’ bedroom with her emergency backpack in hand. It was the first time since coming home and searching for her mom, dad and older brother. She stood on the threshold. Everything remained the same. Her stay-at-home mom kept a neat house, but that day had been extra busy for everyone. The bed remained unmade, clothes littered the floor, and her mom’s Bible lay stacked with her devotional book on her bedside table by a half empty glass of water.
Her mom would hate it if anyone saw the mess. Later. Shaylee went to her dad’s nightstand, opened it, and dug around for the key to his gun cabinet. She removed his Bible and laid it on top of the stand. A handgun lay underneath with a box of bullets beside it, they went into her emergency backpack. A shuffle of several more items then the key came into sight in the back corner of the drawer. A sigh of relief escaped her tight lips when the cold metal of the key pressed against her palm.
With the gun cabinet opened, Shaylee removed each gun with its corresponding box of bullets, loaded them, and hid them around the house. Confident with guns at the ready, anyone who tried to hurt her would regret it. Dad had taught her well.
Shaylee picked the clothes off her parents’ floor and made their bed. When she grasped her mother’s Bible to place it in the bedside table, a well of emotion surged and uncontrollable sobs shook her thin frame. She sank to the carpet and hugged her mother’s favorite book as if it were the woman herself. It had been one of the last things her mom had held. Shaylee let the agony of the last several days drip onto the leather without check.
“Jesus, you took my family to Heaven didn’t you?” Shaylee said it like an accusation, but a guilty conscience made her admit the truth.
“You took them because they truly believed in you.”
Unlike me. They weren’t playing a game--playing church…
“The way I did.”
For sixteen years, her whole life, Shaylee sat through sermon after sermon, Sunday school class after Sunday school class, spent weeks at VBS and youth camps. She’d sang, prayed, made Jesus beads and told people, “Jesus loves you,” but she had never once asked the Lord to save her soul because she’d been a good girl, better than those non-church goers, better than most. Obviously not.
Shaylee laid on her parents’ bed with the Bible still clutched in her arms and fell asleep. Later she awoke in a darkened room to the sound of breaking glass. She listened. The noise came from the front of the house. She jumped off the bed and stood still until her eyesight adjusted to the little light the street lamp outside sent through the crack in the curtains. Raucous laughter spilled into the house. The Bible lay on the bed. She grabbed it, a throw blanket at the end of the bed, and the emergency backpack. With quick, quiet steps Shaylee shut herself into her parents’ large walk-in closet. Easing behind her mother’s dresses where one of the shotguns and bags of food were hidden, she squeezed into the tight space, pushed her emergency backpack into a nearby cubby hole, and sank down, knees bent, back against the wall. With shaky hands, she pulled the shotgun into her lap, felt for the safety, turned it off, pulled the throw blanket over herself and waited.
“Where we gonna cook spaghetti?”
“Dude, we got us a kitchen right here. I’m tired of eating out of cans.”
“Shut up, man. It ain’t even been a week. Go through the drawers and look for money or guns and make yourself useful.”
Drawers crashed onto the floor in her parents’ room and made Shaylee cringe. Similar noises came from other parts of the house. Fighting the urge to run out and tell them to get out of her house, instead she bit her lip and focused on slow, controlled breaths. How could people profit off of others’ misfortunes? Sick. Shameful. Had they found the food and weapons she’d hidden?
“Gun cabinet is empty. Looks like someone got here before us.”
“Here’s another Bible. Every empty house has at least one of them.” He snickered.
One of the fellas read a verse and then ripped, what she assumed was a page out of the Bible, before repeating the process again and again. Though never one to spent much time on her own Bible study, still Shaylee had a reverence for it. She did believe in God after all. Didn’t she? Yes. Especially now.
“Stop wasting time guys. Let’s go to a different house. This one has already--“ The third man’s voice halted mid sentence. A bull horn?
“What is that?’
“Vigilantes. Go. Go. Go.”
Chaos ensued. Shouts, shots, and screams, went on for what seemed like half the night, but then an eerie silence filled the air. Shaylee stayed put.
At some point despite her cramped condition, she fell asleep. Nightmares filled her night. Thieves turned into demons. They tore her daddy’s Bible into pieces. Their laughter sent chills through her body. They laughed and laughed while they came closer and closer and—Shaylee jerked awake. No laughter. No demons. Still her body shook with the remnants of terror. Realizing she still held a loaded shotgun, Shaylee pushed the nightmare out of her mind and called herself a thousand times a fool. Setting the safety on the shotgun, she leaned it against the wall.
No more voices. No more movement in the house. Shaylee’s body had grown painful then numb hours before. The moment she attempted to rise, the pain returned in almost unbearable waves. With gritted teeth, and time the discomfort lessened and then dissolved.
The Bible lay on the floor. Shaylee picked it up and grabbed her emergency backpack. They would stay near her. Both had become her security blankets. The Bible a substitute for a mom missed more and more every day. The backpack, everything else she might need to survive for a while. Though the bathroom screamed her name, she moved with quiet care. The closet door squealed. After a brief pause, she opened the door two more inches and peeked out. The disaster in her parents’ room lit by the morning sun, made her blood boil. No noise could be heard in the house, though. Shaylee raced into her parents’ bathroom. The aftershave her dad used, permeated the small room. With closed lids she inhaled the scent.
“Daddy. Oh, Daddy. I miss you.”
The damage in the rest of the house mirrored the master bedroom, drawers pulled out, possessions scattered, broken, and shattered everywhere. Two of the guns and bags of food, which were hidden together were missing. Two too many. If the thieves’ time hadn’t been cut short, they might have found them all.
“Thank you, God, they didn’t have more time.”
Hunger gnawed at her belly. Setting the Bible on the table and her backpack on the floor, she opened the fridge. Not much remained, but they didn’t take the eggs. Scrambled eggs would do.
The eggs weren’t too bad. Her mom would be proud. The thought made the eggs turn to stone in her gut. Shaylee’s gaze traveled to the Bible again and again. Her dad’s Bible had been a mess. What kind of evil jerk tore pages out of a Bible? Did he have no fear of God?
Shaylee’s internal rant shamed her. No fear of God? Didn’t that define her life? Until now. Now fear of God’s wrath consumed her. Why did she ignore the warnings? Why didn’t she listen? With a push, she moved her empty plate out of the way and pulled the Bible in front of her. Where to start? Flipping through the pages, she tried to decide when an envelope came into view. The writing on the envelope said, “For when I’m gone.” What? With a rip, she opened it and drew out what appeared to be a letter. From her mother.
Tear blurred vision. Acid filled throat. A mewling sound filled her ears. The gut wrenching noise came from inside of her. The cries were replaced with gasps for air. A sense of loss pervaded, invaded, and overwhelmed her. Pain in her chest frightened. Could her heart literally break in two? She fell out of her chair and onto the floor into a fetal position. The letter clutched in her hands like a lifeline.
When the torrent of emotion faded, she wiped her face on her shirt and pulled on the chair to rise. Carrying the letter and the Bible to her mom’s favorite chair Shaylee sank into its floral softness. With great gentleness, she unfolded the letter. The sight of her mother’s script brought more drops of grief. With a swipe of her fingers, the wetness smeared across her cheek. Shaylee began to read.
To whom it may concern,
If you’re reading this letter, I assume I’ve died or I’ve been taken in the rapture. Either way, I am with the Lord Jesus and there is no reason for sadness on my account. If the rapture has taken place, and you are reading this, then you have been left behind to face the wrath of God. I shudder to think of it. I do not wish such a fate on anyone.
I can only imagine the suffering you may have to endure. I don’t want to imagine it. It’s far too painful. If it is one of my own children reading this letter…no, I can’t even consider it. Please, whoever you are, pay attention. What I am about to write may help you through the coming days. It may help you see the truth of what has happened and will happen.
Every true Christian has been taken to Heaven, but there is still hope for you and others whose eyes will be opened. Repent of your sin and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Believe He died for your sin and rose again and is coming again. Yes, the rapture took the Christians to Heaven, but Jesus will come to the earth again at the end of the Great Tribulation to set up His Kingdom. If you repent and believe, He will save you. He will help you. The road will be hard, but have faith. The Lord Jesus wins in the end.
I’ve believed for a while that Jesus would come soon. (Hence this letter.) There is nothing to hold him back. The world has become a horrible, wicked place. The Bible says in the end days what is right would be called wrong and what is wrong would be called right. We (the saved) have seen it happen right before our eyes. There are many other prophesies we have seen come to pass in recent days which tell us the end it near as well. Please. Please read the Bible. Learn it. Memorize it. You won’t be allowed to have it for long. An all out war against Jews and Christians will take place soon. Don’t believe the talk of peace through a one world religion, government or currency. It is a lie and it will not last. Read the Bible and believe it. My disappearance along with every other Christian and child on the planet should convince you. It wasn’t aliens. It wasn’t a vaporizer or any other foolish notion they try to convince people of. It is Jesus Christ who called us home.
There are other people who will become believers as well. They will probably gather at churches until they aren’t allowed to gather there anymore. Find them quickly. Don’t try to do this by yourself. The antichrist will reveal himself soon. Do not take his mark no matter what. Read the book of Daniel, 1 Thessalonians 4, 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation. You need to know what is coming. How I pray you will never need to read this letter, but if you do, know that it is written with much love and concern for you and your precious soul. Trust Jesus. He will never leave you or forsake you if you do.
If you are one of my children, I love you with all of my heart. Please don’t let yourself be deceived. Remember the Gospel of Christ. Jesus is truly the Only Way, the Only Truth and the Only Life. Believe. Please believe. Your Daddy and I want you here in Heaven with us.
I am praying for whoever may read this letter. May the God of all Grace have Mercy on your soul.
Shaylee read the letter twice more. After the third time she opened the Bible, and turned to Revelation. Then she read Daniel and the other passages her mother suggested. Several times she stopped to stretch, eat, and clean, but the Word drew her back again and again. The way it described the modern world so perfectly, but had been written thousands of years before, boggled her mind. How did they know? God. God knows all things. Shaylee read until the light faded and darkness descended. Trust Jesus. How many times had her mother warned her? So many times, but what had she done? Brushed it off with no thought whatsoever that she might be right. Pride, disrespect and outright stupidity had kept her blind and lost.
“God…Jesus…I should have listened to my mom, to my dad…even my brother told me. He told me how you’d saved him and changed him. I saw it with my own eyes, but I refused to let it touch me. Why? Why didn’t I believe when it would have been so easy? Why did I think I was okay? I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Lord. I’m sorry for my sin. I’m sorry for being self-righteous and prideful. I should have believed you. Forgive me, Lord. Forgive me of my sin. Save my soul and make me yours. I can’t do this alone. I believe you died for me. I believe you rose again. I believe you will come back and rule on this earth. I trust you, Jesus. I trust you.”
For the first time in her life, Shaylee saw her true self. A sinner in need of grace, and for the first time in her life, she knew how amazing grace could really be. Despite the pain of her circumstances, peace and joy filled her heart. Because she knew without a shadow of a doubt—
“I’ll never be alone again.”
Have you studied Bible prophesy? Though I don't claim to be an expert by any means, Bible prophesy has been an interest of mine for many years. I'm not a big talker, but bring up the subject of Bible prophesy and I might just talk your ears off. What do I suggest studying? The Bible first and foremost. The Bible is true, read it that way. If something is a symbol for something else, the Bible tells you so. If it doesn't say whatever or whoever it is, is a symbol, then I read it as literal, no matter how unbelievable it may sound. That is how I read it and understand it. The passages in my story are a great place to start. The best preaching I've ever heard on the subject is by John MacArthor. This sermon of his is a great one to start with. The end times are near, I truly believe that. Get ready folks. Jesus is coming.