Just A Few More Minutes...

(C) Geoff May

____ "Bill, wait!"
____ He hit her again. This time it was a hard punch on the cheek, and she fell to the floor. Maria was almost unconscious now when her husband, Bill, picked her up yet again. Little Matthew, their five year old son, watched in horror by the door, and on the verge of tears as his father slapped her.
____ For fifteen years now, Bill Meyers has physically abused his wife. Maria has never had the will nor the courage to inform anybody, and she's trusting that her long talk with Matthew will discourage him from telling anybody. Each and every day after she's abused, Bill breaks down in tears begging for her to forgive him, and each and every time, almost against her will, she does, hoping it'll be the last time. Bill was nothing like this when the two got married eighteen years ago. They were the most lovable couple anyone knew. Bill loved Maria so much he'd die for her. But when Maria became a Christian and started going to church, it interfered with their schedule. She tried to talk to Bill, to help him, and their marriage, but he wouldn't listen. She kept trying for years to make things work.
____ Maria, Bill, and Matthew all now attend First Central Missionary Church every Sunday, and Matthew takes part with his age group in the youth activities. Maria has been a long time active member of the church, leading and organizing many youth classes and church events, even though Bill, who attends grudgingly, has never been pleased with her behavior.
____ "Shut up!" He yelled, "I don't care where you've been any more! You went to that damn church again completely against what I told you. How can I trust you?"
____ Nearly whispering, Maria replied, "you know I teach Wednesday night Bible study. I can't miss..."
____ "That doesn't change a thing! You were supposed to stay home tonight. What am I supposed to do now? Tell me!"
____ "I.. I don't know."
____ "Damn right you don't know! Man! Fine, go to bed. You BETTER hope this fury dies over night!"
____ Another abuse, another night. Maria lay in bed crying, partially from the emotional suffering, and partially from the physical pain. How could she bear this any longer? Lord, she prayed, please tell me what to do. I don't know what's happening any more. Please give me the strength and courage to make the right decision. Please.
____ The next morning when Maria woke she looked over at Bill, still sound asleep. She wished she could just reach him, just talk with him, calmly and lovingly like they used to. She really wanted for him to be saved, and just then she prayed for God to forgive him.

____ Just down the hall, Matthew was sleeping soundly. He was dreaming of a wonderful place. He dreamt he was with his grandmother. She was holding him tightly in her arms, telling him how much she loved him. His mother sat smiling in a chair beside them, rubbing his back. There was no one else around; no man, no father. It was just him, his mother and his grandmother. The lights on the Christmas tree all pointed towards the glowing star gently placed on the tip. The room was filled with pure love, and he never wanted to leave.
____ Just then the scene changed to a huge, hectic room. People were running about everywhere, and he was standing in the middle, holding hands with his mother on the left and his father on the right. There were loud noises, people shouting and calling for others. He saw a window and peered out, where he saw planes leaving the loading tunnels, speeding up runways and taking off. Monitors overhead were blinking, and the words 'Boarding' and 'Departed' flashed continually. People's faces looked so frantic, running from door to door and hallway to hallway. Many people were crying. Some were helping others and guiding them to the loading gates. Then he heard a familiar voice.
____ "Matthew, come here. Hurry... please come," his grandmother was bent down, arms outstretched motioning him to come to her.
____ Matthew looked up to his father who stood looking around with a confused look on his face. He looked up at his mother who was looking back down at him. She started to walk towards his grandmother and tried to pull him along. Then Bill tightened his grip on Matthew's hand.
____ "What are you doing? Let him go," she said.
____ "Why? There's no rush, we have plenty of time. Look, there's still a line at our gate," he replied.
____ "I don't care, I just want to get in line."
____ "No. Just wait a few more minutes, the plane won't leave without us."
____ "Fine!" Maria threw up her hands and started walking to the lineup, which was getting shorter very quickly. Matthew yelled after her.
____ "Mommy! Wait!"
____ Bill slapped Matthew's rear end. "Be quiet young man, you'll wait right here."
____ "Matthew, come on, hurry up! Please," Maria said with growing worry. She and her mother were now beginning to enter the tunnel.
____ Matthew looked up at his father, then back to his mother, and made a decision.
____ "We'll be just fine. Be patient," said Bill.
____ "NO!" Matthew yelled back, and jerked his hand away suddenly from his father's metal grip.
____ "Get back here, young man!"
____ Matthew ran up into his mother's arms, and his grandmother joined them. They all looked back at Bill who was still standing there. "Come on!" they yelled at him. They watched from inside the tunnel now as he began to make his way forward. The attendant began to close the doorway, and Bill's pace sped up as the expression on his face turned to shock. He didn't know the doors would close so soon, he wasn't ready.
____ Maria, Matthew, and his grandmother kept walking, looking over their shoulders as the doorway to the tunnel was closed and Bill's face appeared in the window. They stared back in disbelief as he pounded on the door.
____ "Daddy?" Matthew asked, still looking back, "Mommy, why isn't daddy coming?"


____ Seven thirty and the alarm blared incessantly. Bill's fist rose by habit and hit the clock, silencing the sharp buzzing. He laid still for a few minutes, going over the events of the previous night. He still couldn't believe how often he abused his wife. He never thought of himself as an abusive husband, or that he would ever have the audacity to become one. He always hated physical people, he even had his own bullies in primary school. He was nothing of a fighter, just a simple weakling. But when something happened he didn't like, an emotion just rose in him he couldn't control, no matter how much he tried, and it always ended up getting him into trouble. This time he had gone too far, and he knew it.
____ He still loved Maria, and if he could help it, he would never hurt her. He would apologize again. He wasn't sure if she'd believe him any more, but he knew this time he really did mean it. He slowly rose out of bed, stretched in the morning sun and put on his slippers. Without the guts to turn around, looking out the window, he began.
____ "Dear, wake up. Please listen to me. I know I'm not the best husband - hel...heck, I'd be lucky if I wasn't the worst - but I really do have to say I'm so sorry. I know I hurt you. If I could do anything to turn back time, I would. If I had to die to take your pain, I would. I love you so much; I don't want to lose you. Please, please forgive me." Bill was having trouble finishing the last few words.
____ "Dear?" He turned around and found an empty bed. Awe, jeez, he thought, where is she now? No! I'm not going to get angry. I don't blame her if she had to cool off, or get some time alone after last night. Just wait for a bit.
____ He changed into his suit and headed down for breakfast. Odd, he thought, where's Matthew? Matthew was usually already down in the kitchen with the small TV on watching morning cartoons, but today the kitchen was empty and quiet. He went up to Matthew's room and found it, too, empty. Oh no! Please God, tell me she didn't leave and take Matthew! Please!
____ He rushed back into his bedroom and checked all Maria's things. They were still there. Over in Matthew's room, all his things were still in place. What's going on? He panicked.
____ A police siren blared past the apartment, and three fire trucks rushed by. He looked out the window and found the street spotted with many multi-car pileups. As soon as he opened the window, the sound of people on the street yelling at each other blasted through the house. People were running down the streets and sidewalks, a few store alarms started blaring because cars had crashed through the front windows and people were looting the buildings.
____ Bill ran back to the kitchen and turned the TV on to the news.
____ "'...people swarming everywhere! Confusion and chaos is running rampant through these streets as drivers, passengers and pedestrians try to make sense of the sudden disasters... Sir! Sir, what just happened here?'
____ "'Well, I really don't know! One minute I'm talking with my brother Mike over there, on our way to have our morning coffee, and the next I'm talking to a ghost! I'm serious, he just, like, vanished from right beside me!'
____ "'Thank you... That's it; that's the general story each and every person we've talked to has told us. Two men were walking down a sidewalk, and one suddenly disappeared. Cars piling up massicely from vanishing drivers. Broken families, wondering where their mothers, husbands, sons and daughters have gone. Many are attributing this catastrophe to the biblical event labeled the Rapture. At this time, no one has any idea what's going on, and many are beginning to believe that that could be the only answer, though there are people who believe this is some kind of alien intervention or government experiment. For the time being, all we can do is work together and fix...'"
____ Bill turned off the TV, staring in shock at the blank screen, mouth wide.
____ Remembering what Maria once told him long ago, he went over to the book case and took out their extra copy of the Bible. He opened it and looked for Matthew in the index. He turned to Matthew chapter twenty-four. Reading through, his heart began to pound. When he came across verses fourty-two and fourty-four, his suddenly realized what was happening, and read it over in his head again and again. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come... So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
____ Bill closed the bible, tears streaming his face. He went over to the CD stack, and pulled out a CD Maria had played multiple times. Skipping to the seventh track, he played a song and it's words struck him deep in his heart.

____ A man and wife asleep in bed, she hears a noise and turns her head he's gone.
____ I wish we'd all been ready.
____ Two men walking up a hill, one disappears, and one's left standing still.
____ I wish we'd all been ready.
____ There's no time to change your mind, the Son has come and you've been left behind.
____ I wish we'd all been ready.

Lyrics: "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" (C) DC Talk 1995