by Beiah Tudio

 

Author notes: After experiencing God powerfully in a youth conference, I wrote this story. Listen to Fireflight’s “Wrapped in Your Arms,” where the title of this story is based on.

This is a work of fiction. But the Last Days are real. We are in the latter part of the Last Days. Are you ready to meet your Creator?

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I told Joey to run…run as fast as he could so that he wouldn’t feel the pain. I held his hand tightly so he wouldn’t feel it. We looked around before we ran. There were about 5 people with us ready to do what we were about to do.

Rather than surrender, we would be faithful.

Days before I finally realized that I was living the tribulation years mentioned in the Bible, I was still going down the wrong way. Now that I think about it, it would have been easier if I had only listened.

People said that it was never too late to change; that what mattered most was my faith; that no matter what happened, I’d be okay if I believed.

Who wouldn’t believe?

I always imagined the world ending with either zombies roaming around, or people scouring for food, looking for “The Cure”; or that they’d be aliens invading the cities of the earth in one simultaneous, horrendous act.

But this– this was painful. It wasn’t your body they were taking, but your soul. It was said that the souls who defected to the “The One” would rot in hell. I wasn’t curious enough to know how it felt to rot or burn in hell for all eternity– so I believed.

Sarcasm aside, it was Joey who really pulled me into this.

Moments after realizing that my mother had gone up to Heaven without me, I began to panic– only to see Joey looking back at me with such wild eyes.

He always believed that he would go to Heaven in peace.

My mom was a Christian. A good Christian for that matter. She fed the poor. Prayed everyday. Helped people who were in need and always said the righteous things. She believed in grace. She believed that Jesus’ blood and righteousness cleansed her from sin. Even if life’s circumstances were difficult, my mom would always be able to smile and trust God.

You might think that growing up with a mom like her would make me sound less sarcastic. Actually, seeing how my mom believed in the Almighty– Someone she couldn’t see– made me resent knowing God until the day I saw her clothes neatly piled on the floor with no trace of her.

Believe me, I really panicked big time. I began screaming her name over and over. I began to shout at Heaven, asking God what He did to my mom. You see, she warned me. Both she and Joey told me that this day would happen.

I didn’t listen at that time.

Then, I saw Joey kneeling beside my mother’s clothes, weeping soundlessly. I thought he was worried about where my mom had gone to, but I knew that he was aware of this day. That’s when I realized that he was crying. He was asking God why he was still here on earth.

Joey is only 15 years old. I’m 22. As siblings, we aren’t in the best of terms.  He grew up much like my mom, which made him her favorite. But Joey always took care of me. He always reminded me that God loves me, and that forgiveness was one “I’m sorry, God” away. Whenever I arrived home late, exhausted from work, he’d always be there, ready to greet me. Whenever I was gone for some time, he would never forget to send a “hello” message through SMS or via Facebook or Twitter. He never forgot.

I think he was thinking of why God forgot about him.

After a couple of minutes of my quieting down and Joey drenching my mom’s blouse with his tears, Joey suddenly ran out of the house and went next door to Mr. and Mrs. Salrin. They belonged to Mom’s Bible study group.  They had three kids who were pretty much devoted to God as their parents. They were a Christian family and a model family my mom would have been jealous of– had she been the jealous type. She wasn’t.

I followed Joey up to their house and saw both parents holding their kids’ clothes.

So they didn’t go up to Heaven, too.

I pretty much wanted to laugh my head off at these people. They who said that believing God was the most important thing to do.  They said we could spend our eternity with our Creator, singing songs and not feeling any pain.

I looked up and saw Mrs. Salrin’s eyes boring deep into Joey’s. I’ve never seen her that angry. I never thought anybody like that who loved God would look so angry in her life.

I saw the pain in Joey’s eyes, as he saw the people in his life who were supposedly reminding him that God was gracious, and that all of what was happening had a proper meaning.  It was as if hope crumbled in front of him.

It took time for me to understand what  went wrong that day, but I finally did: you may be a professing Christian, but God looks at the heart.  There are those who claim that they are ready, but they are not. I never thought, though, that Joey would be left behind.

The saddest part was that Mrs. Salrin joined the other side– the side of “The One” a few days after the True Hearts disappeared.

A year after that incident, I asked Joey how he coped with what happened. He answered simply. He knew deep down that Jesus wasn’t the Lord of his life.  He was professing that he was a Christian, but he was living selfishly– doing things that served only himself.  When he was left behind, he knew that he had to confront the issue of Christ’s lordship in his life.  He repented from his selfishness and decided that Jesus was truly going to be his Lord. He was going to obey Jesus and do whatever Jesus told him to do.

And now, he has taken it upon himself to guide me and prevent me from joining the other side.

Actually, it took me a long time before I believed. It took me about 2 years probably, give or take. 2 years of slow starvation; of going to places secretly, traveling anonymously and hiding from the obvious.

It was really what Joey had said. Forgiveness was one “I’m sorry, God”away. But it was also a turning away from what was wrong.   The first months into tribulation years, we sought out the people who were like us.  People who had stayed behind, but who didn’t go to the other side.

Stayed behind.

We found several people, and over the years, our population slowly thinned away. I was very upset. With all the things that had been happening, who wouldn’t be?

A day came that was especially upsetting. It was Joey’s birthday, and I was thinking of how to celebrate. We were staying at one of the churches, somewhere deep in one of the villages of our small group. Food was very scarce. There was no point in finding any special food. No point in putting up decorations or anything. Frankly, no point in celebrating. But I wanted this day– just this day– to feel like it was a tad bit normal; that Joey was growing right before my eyes. I decided to ask our group to sing songs in honor of God, thanking Him that there was still a remnant, and that we were part of it. Some of the people in our group were pretty decent singers. I was a good one, too. I asked one of them to teach me one song that talked about being a blessing.

Everything was set. We were going to surprise Joey. Then suddenly, raiders from “The One” started pouring in from every corner of the church. We were cornered. Fortunately, those of us who were trying to surprise Joey were in one of the rooms. We saw the people from our group being shot. We heard the raiders asking them where their allegiance lay, and they answered faithfully their commitment to God Almighty. I was panicking very hard. I didn’t know where Joey was.

I prayed.

I asked God that if He could let me have this moment with Joey, just this day to greet Joey on his 17th birthday, then I would offer my life to Him. Then I asked God to forgive me.

I felt a presence wash over me. A cold, thin breeze passed by my ear, telling me it was alright. That everything was alright. That I was forgiven for everything– every little thing I did that was wrong or that displeased Him. I was forgiven for going down the wrong road for the longest time and for only believing now.

I started to cry really hard. I felt the pain of loving somebody, knowing that you cannot do anything to save him. It was painful knowing that I couldn’t save Joey.

But God could.  I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder, a calming peace in my heart. Knowing that God loved Joey very much, I thought that if ever Joey died that day, he would be in a safe place.

I asked God if I could join Him in that safe place, too. The place where no pain existed, where joy was genuine, where worshiping Him was a priority. It was a place where I could live all eternity beside the Creator.

I cried every single pain in my heart. People were holding me and trying to calm me. I wasn’t crying hysterically, but I was sobbing very hard. I felt the people praying around me, thanking God for finally meeting me.

I thank God for finally meeting me.

I felt a hand hold mine. I knew who that hand belonged to. I hugged Joey tight, thanking God for Joey’s life.

A gunshot rang near to where we were.

We all embarrassingly panicked, except Joey. He came from a tunnel, he said. He discovered this the other day while trying to scour for hidden food. That was where he was when the raiders came in. We scrambled inside the tunnel.

The tunnel was pretty big and was carefully  designed for this purpose. I guess people at the church really knew God was nearly coming. We walked for 2 hours until we finally arrived at the exit.

Joey peeped out the tunnel and was shocked.

We ended up in the middle of the city where all the raiders were situated.

Once again, our group panicked, except me and Joey. I looked at him and saw the determination in his eyes. I felt the power of God and love around me.

I asked the group to calm down.

Joey asked them that if called to a choice, would they rather die for God, or trade a life in this painful world? All of them understood what Joey meant.

I told Joey to run…run as fast as he could so that he wouldn’t feel the pain. I held his hand tightly so he wouldn’t feel it. We looked around before we ran. There were about 5 people with us ready to do what we were about to do.

Rather than surrender, we would be faithful.

Death was God’s design not to end things, but to be a choice to why we lived. We all knew we’d die. We knew that life would end. The choice was this: did we want to be faithful, or did we live just for the heck of living?

For a while, I lived for the heck of living.

Now, I live for the True One, my Creator, who loved me first and gave me the chance to live. I live to experience and to comprehend how He loves each person.

I’ll die knowing where I will go.

 

 

Do you know where you will go?

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