I had lulled three-year-old Alice to sleep and engaged her brother Ben with a storybook when I heard a knock at the front door. I looked back at my little ones once more before hurrying to greet my party guests.
“For you, sweetheart. Happy New Year’s,” murmured Jason, pressing a bouquet of wildflowers into my hands. “The florists were all out of roses. Hope you don’t mind.”
He gave me a lingering kiss, the kind that made me wish I had asked my mother to babysit the kids.
“Hey, you two, move aside for the important stuff, ” said Frank, laughing as he pushed past us.
He pretended to stagger under the weight of the twin twelve-packs he carried on his shoulders. His new girlfriend Sharon offered a shy smile.
Following Frank out to the kitchen, I opened the fridge door for him and took a tall glass from the cupboard for the flowers. A spider dropped to the floor and I crushed it underfoot.
“So, Sharon,” Jason said as we rejoined them. “Do you like football?’ He was already tuning the TV in to the Rose Bowl game. “And who does God say will win?”
Frank snickered and draped his arm around Sharon’s shoulder. Her face reddened as he led her to the couch.
“Sharon’s a Christian. She’s supposed to be at a prayer meeting with her parents right now,” Frank joked, “But she’d rather be with me.”
I heard a terrified shriek.
“Momma ” Alice cried as I hurried into their room. She pointed at the window above her bed.
“It’s just a dumb old spider ” Ben sniffed as he returned to his book.
“It’s staring at me ” Alice sobbed.
Most of the outside window was covered by a web, the spider suspended in the center of its quivering creation.
Alice was inconsolable. I finally allowed her to come with me to the living room.
“Hey, missed you ” Jason said as he popped open a beer.
I gave him a tight smile.
“Sorry about Alice,” I apologized. “She freaked over a spider in her window.”
“A spider?” Jason asked. “Cool Show me.”
He winked at me as Alice took his hand and led him to the room.
Moments later, he called to me, “Hey, hon, you’ve got to see this ”
Jason and the two children stood staring at the bedroom window. When I looked, I gasped involuntarily.
“How many do you think there are?” I whispered.
Jason shook his head in disbelief. The window swarmed with spiders.
“Let’s just go back out with Frank and Sharon,” Jason commanded.
I led the way and he closed the bedroom door behind him.
Sharon was rocking back and forth on the couch, her eyes squeezed shut, saying something under her breath. Frank was gone.
“Jason ” I pointed at the living room windows. All were in the same condition as the bedroom window with one awful exception. Against one of them rested a twitching human hand.
“He knew I was afraid and thought he could brush them away,” Sharon said. “They attacked him ” She shuddered as she said, “It’s the beginning of sorrows ”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I can’t leave him out there ” Jason muttered, striding to the door.
“Jason, no ” I shouted.
He opened the door, then slammed it shut. Turning to us, his face ashen, he said, “There’s spiders everywhere We can’t escape ”
I clutched Alice and Ben to me and Jason joined us. We sank to the floor on our knees hugging one another. Sharon continued her rocking and murmuring.
“Sharon,” I pleaded. “You’re a Christian. What can we do?”
“Pray,” she answered, tears glistening in her eyes. “I said this is the beginning of sorrows. Things are going to get much worse, and if you don’t have faith in Jesus....” Her voice trailed off and she wept for our unbelief.
Jason drew in a ragged breath and spoke. “Tell us what we must do.”
Sharon helped us in the following hour to receive that faith. Then she led us in prayer. When we opened our eyes, the spiders had disappeared, every one of them. The only things that remained were the webs and Frank’s lifeless hand at the window.
Matthew 24:7b-8 And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Habakkuk 3:5 A plague went before Him, and lightning went forth at His feet.
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