Rose looked at her broken shoelace and swore, then glanced around to see if Bill had heard. There was a time when Bill had made her laugh by stringing together sentences entirely of cusswords—but ever since he’d gotten religion, Rose was the only cusser in the house.
It was going to be a wonderful day. First, the broken shoelace, and now the prospect of a 25-mile trip into town to do errands. And there was a spider bite on Rose’s derrière providing a constant undercurrent of irritation.
She drove to town with an anxious look at the sky—it was that eerie shade of green that presages a summer storm. As she parked in the Wal-Mart lot, she nearly ran into a bearded man carrying a sign: REPENT—THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND. Rose snorted. God, schmod, she thought. Look around, buddy. Does this look like a kingdom to you?
Twenty minutes later, Rose tossed her purchases into the car and decided to splurge at Starbucks. But standing in line for cappuccino, she realized that she’d forgotten shoelaces and muttered another curse. The line was long; one more annoyance. A neighborhood teen, Megan Something, was working the counter, wearing a tee-shirt with a smiling Jesus and the words Some Day My Prince Will Come. Rose scratched her rear, then took a list from her purse and crossed off several items.
With seven customers ahead of her, it was several minutes before Rose reached the counter. No longer in the mood for cappuccino, she snapped her order at an unfamiliar barista, then asked, “Where’s Megan?”
“Beats me.” The girl looked as annoyed as Rose felt. “She went on break a minute ago, and now I can’t find her, just her apron. And making the cappuccinos is really her job.”
Rose left the café, took one sip of her too-weak cappuccino, tossed it to the ground, and headed back to Wal-Mart for shoelaces.
Her errands completed, Rose drove home contemplating dinner and the evening’s television shows. The sky remained…odd. She shuddered and turned on the radio. Bill’s Christian music station blared out, an up-tempo tune that fed Rose’s contrary mood.
Behold, He comes, riding on the clouds
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call…
Riding on the clouds…she studied the sky, where the clouds were darkening, and punched another radio button. This time a church choir was singing; apparently Bill had changed all the buttons. Rose listened for a few seconds.
When Christ shall come with trumpet sound
O may I then in Him be found…
Another button—and a deep-voiced preacher proclaimed “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God." Rose smirked, and imagined Megan with her Jesus tee-shirt, and the bearded man, and this preacher, all tapping their watches and waiting…waiting…waiting.
She clicked off the radio in disgust, and tried to ignore the itch tormenting her backside.
One mile from home, Rose tapped the brakes—a car was in the ditch. Drove right off the road, it looked like, but Rose slowed down enough to see that the driver was gone. Probably a drunk, she thought. What a world.
Finally home, Rose grabbed the Wal-Mart bags and headed toward the house. She stopped short at the sight of Bill’s shoes at the porch steps…and Bill nowhere in sight. Suddenly her head filled with a steady buzzing…the bearded man’s sign…the weird sky…the songs on the radio…Megan missing from her job…the car in the ditch…Bill’s shoes…all of these ticked slowly until her brain contained only one thought. Bill had told her about something…the Rapture, was it?...and now it had happened, just as he said.
“Bill!” Rose ran into the house, yelling. “Bill! Where are you, Bill? I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m…”
“What is it, Rose?” Bill stood up from his easy chair, where he’d been reading the newspaper. “Are you all right?”
Rose smiles at Bill as he heads out to work. The spider bite seems better this morning, and she hums a hymn she remembers from childhood as she weaves the new lace into her sneaker. And then she hears a sound that she recognizes, although she’s never heard it before, and she runs out to the yard. Bill is there, looking at the wondrous sky and hearing it too, and she clasps his hand as they rise. Four shoes—his tasseled loafers and her halfway-laced sneakers—fall empty to the earth.
Days of Elijah by Robin Mark. © 1996, Daybreak Music, Ltd., Integrity Music
The Solid Rock, public domain
Luke 9:27, NIV
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