This is the continuation of Jerome’s story. If you missed Pt.1 of “The Good Shepherd” you can read it here: https://josephelonlillie.com/2013/03/01/the-good-shepherd-pt-1/“
The Good Shepherd Pt 2
Silhouette stood at the door stamping the cold out of her feet. As I ushered our church “prepper” into the wood stove warmth I was caught by the irony of her visit. She had never been to my home before. Our interactions had been limited to conversations before or after church. Yet here we were at Doomsday and she was the first guest to come knocking.
“Pastor! Thank God you are still here.” She said.
“Where else would I be Sil?”
“Well since the power went out and the cars are all dead, I thought maybe we’d hit the rapture but if you’re still here, well then I guess we can rule that out. That just means everything I’ve been talking about for the last few years is coming to pass.”
“So you don’t think the power is coming back on?” I asked.
“If this was tied to some storm maybe but Pastor you know as well as I do that this is something else.” She returned.
“How’d you get here, Sil?”
“My horse. I put her out back to keep her from prying eyes if you don’t mind.”
I took her into the dining room. With the blackout curtains pulled back to let in the late winter sun and the help of an antique foot warmer the room was almost sixty, passable for warm. I thought for a moment, as I placed the steaming cup of coffee in front of Silhouette, how quickly I had adapted to the expectation of cold.
“Am I the first to come?” She asked.
“There will be more. They’ll want to know if you’re still here. There will be questions about being left behind, the tribulation. There’s going to be trouble Pastor, panic and the bad’s going to come out of people. Are you ready for it?”
I was taken aback. I had been so busy thinking about how to keep warm I hadn’t thought about what the long-term effect would be on the population around me.
“You have to be ready. If Christ hasn’t come He soon will. That makes this the great falling away. How bad it is will depend largely on you.” She took a long sip of her coffee and stared hard into my eyes over the rim.
That visit was two months ago. The power didn’t come back on by Sunday; But well over a hundred people showed up for church layered and bundled against the cold that seeped through every crack in the old white building. As Silhouette had predicted they came to make sure that I was still feet firm on planet earth and they hadn’t missed out on the blessed hope. Once that issue was settled they wanted to know what God was doing and what they were supposed to do next. By that time I had already framed my thoughts from twenty conversations with people who, like Sil, had shown up at my door for comfort.
The points of my sermon that morning were: This is not the rapture. This is not the tribulation. The rapture is coming. The tribulation is coming. Guard your hearts and stay ready. God is with us.
I’ve wondered since then if my theology was off. The hospital ten miles away started losing patients the day Silhouette arrived. Without the help of a back-up generator oxygen tanks stopped working. Bathrooms backed up and were overflowing within a few days.
Funeral parlors were among the first to contract with the local horse farms for wagons to move the dead. I have performed thirty funerals in sixty days and I know this is just the beginning. The frailest among us have shuffled off their mortal coils. In the first month sickness was our enemy. In the second it has been famine.
When my mood darkens I take to the cellar and sit among the shelves of dry goods I stockpiled over the last few years. The last outsider to be in this cellar was Silhouette. She was gratified that I had at least listened to her words and was prepared.
Her advice that day was, “You are one of the few who ever took me seriously. Don’t let anyone know about this if you want to live.”