Chapter Nine

“How about a movie?” Earl said to Joyce on Friday as he walked into the den. He stepped over to the fireplace and spread out his left hand to collect the warmth. Their furnace worked fine, but they both preferred the cheerfulness of a log fire and usually had one going well into spring, until the summer warmth finally arrived in the Northwest.

“Okey-dokie,” she replied. She’d been reading a romance novel, but happily put it down and rose from their double recliner to make popcorn. She could return to the book later, but for now she looked forward to sharing the rest of the evening with Earl. He watched her, marveling at the ease with which she handled her prosthetic legs. It was like they were an integral part of her body. He remembered the pain involved with her adjustment to their use and thanked God for her grit.

“I thought you’d be working later than this,” she called from the kitchen.

“I got done sooner than I expected. I had a lot to say and it came out pretty fast.” He tossed a log onto the fire, sat down on his side of the recliner and flicked the TV on with his remote. He declined to make a posting tonight, considering his time with Joyce to be every bit as important.

He went into the guide and after a few minutes of searching found a movie that looked good. It was coming on shortly, so he turned to the channel and waited patiently for the latest run of incessant commercials to end. Another one followed and he continued to wait quietly as Joyce returned with a bowl of popcorn and two cans of pop. A third commercial appeared, which angered him until Joyce put a calming hand on his wrist. But his interest picked up when he saw that it was a recruitment commercial for the Marine Corps. “I was a Marine,” he commented to her, the pride obvious in his tone.

“Oh, wow!” she replied, batting her eyes. A grin betrayed her thoughts.

“No need to mock,” he said, offended. “There’s a reason for the pride.”

“Come here, big boy,” she said, wrapping an arm around his neck and drawing him to her for a wet kiss. “I am proud of you. But for a lot more than that.”

Mollified, he turned to the movie, which was just beginning. They enjoyed the film together and turned into bed.

Startled, Earl awoke to the diffuse light and sat up in bed. As always when he first saw Her, he was shocked at the beauty of the face before him, fully appreciating that Her appearance was but a pale representation of Her magnificent soul.

“Wisdom!” he cried joyfully. “You’re back!”

“Shhhh,” She replied, raising a finger to her lips. “I don’t want to wake your lovely bride. It’s you I want to talk to this time.”

“I’m sorry. It’s just that I’m so glad to see You again. I’ve missed You so much.”

She gave him a sympathetic laugh. “I’ve been here all the time, Earl, but I know what you mean. I’m also glad to be sharing with you face-to-face.” She stared at him lovingly. “So how’s My big jarhead?” She asked coyly, fluttering Her huge lashes theatrically. A grin lit up Her face.

“Not You too!” he shot back. “What’s so wrong with me telling Joyce that I was a Marine? After all, I was.”

“No need to be petulant,” She said, laughing at his pout. “You neglected to tell her that you never saw combat.”

“Was that my fault?” he asked defensively. “I would have if there was a war on. I was ready to go and you know it. It just so happened that there wasn’t a war during my time in the Corps.”

“As I recall, you didn’t call it the Corps. You called it the Crotch.”

“Do You have to know everything? Of course we did. We all did. But it was said with affection. You also may recall that I had a very hard time deciding whether to re-up or not when my enlistment ended. It was just that I wanted to go to college.”

“Oh, is that why you were so merciless with the poor guy who went to see Battle Cry at the movies and re-upped for six? You were brutal. And laughing inside. I know.”

“Yeah, well, I had mixed feelings about it. And I don’t care what You say, I was ready to go. Remember Lebanon?”

“All right. Enough joking around. There’s a reason why I’ve returned so directly to you. I have a job for you as a Christian. It’s a battle to make a Marine weep. Are you ready to go to war now?”

“Are You serious? You know I’ll do anything for You.”

“Oh, now you sound like Peter. You can’t do anything without My help. But are you ready to accept a really unpleasant mission?”

“Would it be with Joyce?”

“I’ll ask her, but that’ll just be a formality. Yes, she’ll agree. Her love for you is very strong. But then you know that.”

“Yes, I’m very blessed, thanks to you. And yes, I’ll accept, although You already know that, too. And I understand that I’ll be needing you every step of the way.”

“Good. Because, Earl, We’re looking for a few good people too, just like the Marines. And this is a good chance for you to get the combat experience you missed before.”

“So what’s the mission?”

“You’re maturing as a Christian, so you’ve figured out by now that being a Christian isn’t all fun and games.”

Earl looked at Her with a growing concern, attempting to get from Her eyes a hint at what was coming next. “I’m not sure that I like the sound of this. Where’s it all heading?”

“What do you think about the Rapture?”

“We’re ready. Joyce and I are really looking forward to it.”

“Oh. So you think it’s imminent.”

“Well, yes I do. We do. Isn’t it?” He said this last with a squeak of apprehension, which made Her laugh.

“What’s happening to my big Marine? Is that what you’re waiting for? The Rapture for an easy out?”

“Well – – kind of,” he admitted in a small voice.

“Not going to happen. Not that way. You and a whole bunch of other very fine Christians have misled themselves and been misled by others with this misplaced hope. I’m afraid when the flag goes up you’re going to be stuck right here in the thick of things, Earl. You and Joyce both. What do you say to that?”

“Not much that I can say, is there? I’m disappointed, sure, but You’re the boss. Not only that,” he said, reassembling his backbone, “but I love You. All of You. Me and Joyce both. We’ll do everything we can for Jesus’ sake. With Your help, of course.”

“Of course. I’ll still be around, because you’ll really be needing Me. Things are going to be heading south ever faster, and to many people it will seem like the Rapture actually happened. Chaos will become a normal state of affairs. Communications will be disrupted, and in the general turmoil it will seem like Christianity has departed from the face of the earth. To compound that general impression, many Christians are being persecuted as we speak. Many more will be following them, such that your ranks will be systematically decimated. Above and beyond that little item, a good many so-called Christians are falling away into open apostasy, further thinning out the ranks as they depart from the faith. But others – particularly Jews, beloved people of the Book, will get right with Us through their trials, and it’ll be part of your job to help them get there.”

“Will there be others like us?”

“Yes, but that’s not your concern. As for you, you’re going to be doing a whole lot more than you can imagine at this point. You’re going to know – intimately – just how the Tribulation will impact the Jews, who remain the apple of God’s eye, and how your life, as well as Joyce’s, will be inextricably tied in with them. You and Joyce are going to learn some things that’ll put you on fire for your Jewish brothers and sisters. For starters, we’re going to visit some highlights of Israel’s history, which involves some unfinished business between you and Me. Remember what I told you about Hebron, that it was very important to God? It was a long time ago when I told you that, just about when you first met Me.”

Earl thought back to when Wisdom first directly visited him. It was before Joyce, when he was grieving over Alicia. What an awful time, but then Wisdom came into his life. . . “Yes! I do remember! You said it was important, but then the subject didn’t come up again.”

“There’s a time for everything. Up till now it wasn’t important for you to be particularly aware of Israel, or Hebron either. Now it is. Hebron’s a town on the west bank of the Jordan River, Earl. It’s part of the territory occupied by the Israelis after the 1967 war but which is now of course, thanks to pressure applied to Israel by the United States under several administrations up to and including the present one, by your continuously unwise State Department, an integral part of territory claimed by Palestinian militants. Hebron and the surrounding West Bank territory are frequently in your news as elements of animosity between Palestinians and Israelis. America continues to join the world in siding with Palestinian claims on this sacred territory, as if the region will finally be blessed with peace if only Israel will have the good sense to acquiesce to the demand for a two-state solution, under the terms of which Hebron will be offered to the Islamic militants who clamor for it as their rightful due.

“Sadly, Earl, the world forgets Hebron and its rich Biblical history. That was in the region, according to Genesis 12 and 13, where, as far back in time as when the nation of Israel was still but a thought in Our mind, Abraham stood as We first gave him the promise:

“’Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. . .
“’And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.”

“We later formalized this promise by a unilateral, everlasting covenant which also established specific boundaries for the land of Israel, the borders of which extended far beyond both the region of Hebron and the present-day borders established by modern statesmen.” She looked at Earl and decided that at this point a mere introduction to the topic was about all his mind was capable of receiving. “Go back to sleep, my darling,” She said, accepting his de facto lack of focus, and left.


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