The Last Days
by Lori Godfrey
“How do you know we will get there safely?” Dave asked.
“I know we will,” I assured him.
“And we still have several hours of daylight.” Thomas said.
“All right, but I can’t help having an awful feeling. We should have stayed home instead of running off into the woods,” I replied.
The trees seemed not to touch the sky. The birds were singing as if it were their last day on earth.
“Dave, look over there, in the thicket!” Thomas exclaimed. “A doe and her fawn.”
“I see her,” Dave said.
“She won’t be there long. With hunting season the bullets will be flying,” I replied looking over my shoulder one last time.
“Come on, Dave, you were the one who was nervous about the time,” Thomas said.
“Yeah, I hear you, Thomas.”
“Why did we come out here?” I asked.
“To find the fishing hole I’ve been hearing about,” Thomas answered.
“Fishing hole and no poles,” Dave morosely replied.
“Why bring them if we can’t find it?” Thomas questioned.
“That would be a waste of energy carrying bait, tackle, and poles,” I supposed.
The day wore on and twilight approached. I couldn’t help but think we had made a wrong decision in our adventure. It was 1969, but even still, I envisioned dangers from the old days behind every rock and tree. I should have listened to my conscience. My parents always tried to teach me right from wrong.
“How do you know we are going in the right direction?” I asked Thomas.
“I know,” he said. “My Dad and I went squirrel hunting, and we were fine.”
“If you say so,” I told him, not very convinced.
“We’ll be home before you know,” he said.
“Do your folks ever talk about God?” I asked.
“Sure they do; don’t most families?” Thomas replied.
“Well, I’m not sure if all families do,” I answered.
“Why? You thinking about God?” Thomas asked.
“Sort of,” I told him.
“We go to church occasionally,” Thomas said. “Not every Sunday. I hear if you want to meet a nice girl, church is the place to go.”
“Well, I don’t think God would be very pleased if the only reason we went to church was to spy out girls,” I told him.
I thought about what my friend had said as we walked along the beaten path, kicking rocks and eating berries. How displeased would God be if our motives for attending church were to check out the girls? My thoughts went back to a preacher I once heard. “I remember a preacher on television talking about the Last Days. I started thinking about what I would not want to do when Jesus returned.”
“You know how they say He could return any moment,” Dave said.
“I know, I have thought the same,” I said.
“Besides,” Thomas said, “I don’t think He’s ready to return. Remember, God is waiting for people to repent.”
“Oh, I know, Thomas, but you never know,” I replied.
“Well, think about something else. We should be home soon,” he said.
The sun would set soon, and I felt we made no progress in finding our way home. The surroundings were looking dismal, leaving us no alternative except to pray.
I knew Thomas would take my lack of faith to get us home as a weakness of my character, so praying would have to be silent. “Lord, you know we should have stayed home today, seeing the time that we have left to find our way home. It is beginning to look as if we are lost. We really need your help, and you know how determined my friend is to get us home ....”
“Dave, I see the pond! See it?” Thomas exclaimed.
“Yes, I see it,” he said.
“How does that help us in finding our way home?” I asked him.
“Well, I’m not sure, but at least I know where the pond is,” Thomas chuckled.
I struck him on the side of the head, and he then lit out for the pond. Through briars and weeds he went. I knew he would jump in to relieve the heat of the day. “You two joining me?”
“Oh, why not,” I replied.
Here we were, eleven-year-olds, swimming in a pond we knew nothing about—almost dark and still uncertain how we would get home.
“Thomas, how are we getting home? You don’t know the way,” I said.
“I do too. That way!” he pointed.
“Suppose you are wrong,” Dave replied.
“If I am wrong, my folks will have the dogs looking for us,” he said.
“Not only that, Thomas, but our hides as well,” I said, throwing a rock into the pond.
“We’ll see. We may be home before you know it,” my friend replied.
I looked up to see the stars were starting to glitter. The sound of the forest would begin soon and night would be upon us. I was positive a search party would begin. As Thomas said, his folks would have the dogs out. He lived closer to the woods, so his family was more familiar with the dangers the woods presented. I could only wish that a reality.
My thoughts went back to the preacher talking about the Last Days. I had to ask myself the question: What would I be doing when the Lord returned? Would I be out lost in the woods where only animals are? Would I be doing something wrong when He returned and miss His appearance?
Salvation is personal to every human being and also something that is hard to understand. God’s grace is a part of Him that human beings have a difficult time grasping. Only the Holy Spirit can help us understand the mystery of God.
That May evening many years ago brought Thomas and me to a clearer understanding of ourselves and God. He was correct; his folks did bring out the dogs and we were found. Thank God for hunting dogs. I really was not looking forward to sleeping in the woods.
We escaped punishment only because our parents were so glad to find us. A lecture ensued and without a doubt, should we pursue another walk to the pond without parents’ approval and many hours of daylight, we would forfeit our days of freedom until further notice.
Thomas grew up and became a doctor, and we remain close. I went into the ministry, met my wife in the church that Thomas and I attended on occasion. Dave moved away the following year; his dad took a job with the Forest Service. How ironic given our wandering trek in the woods that day!
As I think back to the year I met my wife, I still remember the attitude I had about spying out girls in church. In fact, Cornerstone, the church Thomas and I attended, is where I met her ... unexpectedly I might add. Do I find people questioning the Lord’s return? Yes, more so now than ever. Yet time moves forward in these last days we are now living as we await our Lord’s return. As it was then, so it is now with one exception; we are just that much closer.