Chaos. That’s the only word that describes what is happening around the world, and in front of my eyes. Outside, a deadly plague is spreading quickly, and people are becoming severely ill and dying. Their moans of anguish fill the streets through the dark days and even darker nights. We hear the explosions all around us, there are fires burning out of control all around our home in Houston. Gun shots ring out, and society has broken down without warning. Hundreds and hundreds of people are lined up outside of every hospital the city, and some of those medical facilities are over-run with desperate people hoping to be cured. I’m already inside Methodist Hospital in Houston for a head injury, and I can’t wait to get out as sick people come in for treatment by the truckload. Many of those frantically trying to get into the hospitals join the mass of bodies that have already fallen. The plague is out of control.
My friend Jack is with us, and he’s concerned about his family in Wichita. He hasn’t been able to get through on the phone, and restlessly paces back and forth. Jack heads down to a quick shop a few miles away and we receive word that he has collapsed and died from the contagion.
My phone starts ringing. I pick up to find that it’s my son, Steven. I can barely hear his words as the line cuts in and out. He tells me that he has put his family into their SUV, and they’re on their way to our place. But the highways are crammed with accidents – crumpled, burning cars, the bodies of the dead, and a logjam of vehicles trying to get through. He adds that the earth is shaking, and earthquakes are collapsing the roadways, especially in the large cities. But no one is safe and the roads and overpasses are crumbling into the abyss. My son is forced to find alternate routes to get to us, but he promises he’ll be with us soon.
In the hospital, I’m being treated for a head injury that I sustained in NYC towards the end of 2019. I’m anxious to leave in a hurry. I don’t need to contract this plague also, or have my wife Dora contract it either. But we wait, watching a channel on the in-room television that shows various Bible verses set to soft Christian music. I know God is speaking to me through his Word. I tell Dora that I want to speak with the Chaplain.
When the Chaplain comes in, he asks me if I know what God said when he saved man’s soul? I answer, “John 3:16, NIV – ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’”
What does this mean? Why is the Chaplain asking me to repeat this from memory? I suddenly realize that it’s because this verse is the core, the very essence, of Christianity. God loved the world enough to come as Jesus, and to die for us, so that anyone who trusts in Him will be saved from sin. Seeing my understanding, the Chaplain turns and leaves the room.
Later, another Chaplain, different from the first, visits and asks me what the Bible says about preparing to be with God before the world ends. I reply, “2 Timothy 3:1-5 – ‘But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.’” The Chaplain had to help me remember parts of these verses, as I had seen them on the TV screen but not fully memorized them.
Knowing that the second Chaplain is waiting for more, I search my memory. I am more familiar with the book of Revelations than 2nd Timothy, so I continue, “Signs of the end times according to Revelations are nations rising against each other, and wars between peoples and nations. A series of natural disasters offer additional signs of the end times, including earthquakes and violent hailstorms. God also appoints messengers to preach the gospel during the end times.”
Again the Chaplain helps me recall what I’ve read in the Bible and from my Christian upbringing on a farm in the Midwest: The signs of the end times show us that the earth has reached the last days.They will include the presence of false prophets, false teaching, war, persecution, apostasy, lawlessness, earthquakes, famine, plagues, increase in selfishness, denial of what is good, mocking of Jesus, an increase in knowledge, rise of spiritism, decay of marriage, ungodly lusts.
I reflect on the world we live in and see that rebellion against God is everywhere. Immorality is permitted and even celebrated. God’s eternal law – the Ten Commandments – are being discarded, and we have threatened the very Earth and all life on it through our greed, avarice and malice. God’s glory has been rejected, ridiculed and diminished as many have left their faith behind, or worse, never experienced it at all.
All around us there is famine, disease, pollution and death. Just when we thought we had conquered all the diseases in the world, new ones appeared: HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Avian Flue, Swine Flu, SARS, MERS. I know the situation outside the hospital is worse than I could imagine.
When I’m finally released from the hospital, I pray that we can make it back home safely. I also pray that my Steven and his family are safe and that they can can find their way to our home through the massive destruction.
Once we arrive at home, we pray together as the screams of people get closer, closing in on all sides. We hear them in the hallway of our apartment, upstairs, downstairs and next door. We hear booming ‘thud, thud’ sounds as people bang on the walls and doors, running wildly. At one point we hear a loud, persistent rapping on our front door, followed by Steven’s voice, “Dad, it’s us. Dad!”
Steven’s family comes in and we all embrace. The screams of despair are getting louder in our building, and far in the distance a terrible rumble grows louder. There are tremendous explosions, and fires that rage to consume everything around them, even as the skies darken and pour rain.
From the awful sound, we know the earth is being ripped apart, punctuated by the roar of buildings crashing down around us. Steven had told us the roads were falling into the abyss. Now the ground is quaking with increased violence. We gather in prayer, joining out voices together even as our building starts to crumble, and the last of the dying moans brings an unnatural silence. We feel a sensation of weightlessness as our entire place rises into the air. We pray harder, louder, reading His word with the full conviction of our Faith. The rest of the world falls away as we are lifted into the sky to be with Jesus Christ.
Below us the war rages on, and we know how it will end.