“Brothers and sisters, are you keeping on the watch? As the scene of this world continues to change, rest assured that it will align with God’s purpose to bring an end to false religion once and for all. As students of the Bible, we know that it is Jehovah who ‘puts it into their hearts’. Does this mean that the Great Tribulation to follow will only bring hardships for those who belong to Satan’s system? To answer, let’s turn our Bibles to Matthew chapter twenty-four…”
My mind wanders as the program continues. I saw it last week after my study when I was at Chelsea’s. Walter and her were particularly interested to see if the broadcast was going to formally announce the beginning of the Great Tribulation. Everyone suspects that it’s already begun, but our organization has been cautious to label it. According to Walter, the brothers may be waiting for something more significant to happen on a global scale, since the attack on Babylon the Great comes from the image of the wild beast, the United Nations, and not just the government of a single nation.
I still find some of the symbols and prophecies in Revelation difficult to grasp, but Chelsea and Walter have been patient, explaining things simply and even helping me to put together my own timelines for personal study. Regardless of my limited grasp of everything right now, it’s exciting to be living through such a clear fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Still, I can’t help but feel distracted by an equally pressing issue in my life: my marriage. I glance at the kitchen door leading in from the hallway, knowing that as soon as it swings open I’ll be faced with the task of confronting Luke. It can’t wait any longer, though I still don’t have the words. How could I? Until just a couple of weeks ago, I thought our marriage was just fine. I look back at the screen, tuning in for just long enough to catch the following:
“What kind of tribulation can we expect to face? Well, in the first century C.E., what trials did Christians fleeing Jerusalem have to face? The material sacrifices were many. They would’ve had to leave behind homes, businesses, material possessions. Many likely faced opposition from unbelieving family members…”
I hear footsteps in the hallway come to a halt at our front door and realize that Luke is home. I turn and take a deep breath. But instead of the familiar sound of keys slipping past the tumblers, there’s a loud thud on the front door as someone begins to knock.
“Who is it?” I yell as I scrabble for the door.
“FBI. Please open up.”
FBI? Is this a joke? I wonder if it’s Gabe out there and he’s expecting to catch Luke at home. I angrily lean into the peephole, only to find two strangers in black jackets looking back at me impatiently. One of them holds a golden badge to my eye.
“Give me a minute,” I say, going through the five step process of unlocking our front door. A man and a woman step inside.
“Can I see some ID?” I ask. The question doesn’t seem to phase them but they briefly exchange glances and allow me a closer look at their badges.
“We’re with federal bureau of investigation, ma’am. You’re the wife of Officer Luke Harding, is that correct?” I nod, suddenly terror flooding my veins.
“Has something happened to him?”
“No ma’am, I can assure you he’s perfectly fine. However, his precinct is currently under an investigation. We’re here with a seizure warrant…” The man pauses slightly as his partner produces a notaried document from a jacket pocket. “Are you familiar with what this is?”
“It means you’re here to take something,” I say, glancing over the papers.
“That’s right. We won’t be but a minute. Perhaps you can show us where Luke keeps his laptop computer.”
I nod hesitantly. I feel very violated by this intrusion, having two strangers walk into my apartment and take whatever they want. Worse yet with me guiding them through my home and showing them what to take. We get to the living room and I point to Luke’s desk. The man yanks cables from the walls and throws everything into a black duffel bag. The woman looks around our apartment smugly while she waits. Her eyes seem to be taking everything in. It unnerves and angers me.
“Is that all?” I ask irritably when Luke’s computer is packed away.
“That should be it, yes,” says the man. He pulls a card from his wallet and hands it to me before he leaves. “If you or your husband wishes to get in touch, here’s my number.”
I take it from him and, without a word, escort them to the door.
I come home to a quiet apartment and find leftover meatloaf wrapped in foil on the stove. I shovel a piece onto a plate on the counter and collapse into one of the dining chairs in our kitchen. I’m exhausted. I’ve barely slept the last couple of nights and it’s finally catching up. I’ve been running on caffeine and adrenaline, but even these have their limits. I’m halfway through my dinner when Amy enters the kitchen quietly and takes a seat. She’s got a funny expression on her face. I ask her what’s going on.
“Some men came by here today,” she says, crossing her arms and staring at the floor.
“Men? What do you mean?”
“They said they were with the FBI.” That’s all it takes. My mind is reeling again. This nightmare never ends.
“What did they want?” I demand, knowing full well what the answer must be.
“They took your computer,” Amy says. I curse loudly and slam my fist on the table, startling my wife.
“What’s going on, Luke?” I shake my head and cover my face. It’s the worst possible news. “Are you in trouble?” Amy pleads, gently pulling at one of my sleeves. “I don’t know,” I groan.
“What does that mean? Have you done something wrong?”
“No, I haven’t. They may think I did, but I haven’t. I just talked to a reporter a few times, and now they think I’m somehow mixed up in this mess.”
I sigh. There’s no real harm in letting Amy in on everything, though it’s anyone’s guess how she’ll react. I decide to take my chances.
“There were some leaked files posted online. The documents incriminate the government for some of the arson attacks on churches around the country.” I glance up at Amy. She seems to be frozen, her mouth open, eyes staring off into space.
“But why would they do that?” she asks quietly.
“I have some ideas, but I don’t even know how legitimate the documents are.”
“Why did they come here, though? How are you involved?”
I take a deep breath and pause before answering. “I talked to the reporter who leaked the documents. They must think I know something.”
“Only the little that the reporter gave me.”
“Did you have any of it on that computer?”
My head drops and the next word takes tremendous courage to utter. “Yes.”
“Oh, Luke… But what does that mean? Can they come after you? Can they come after us? Can you be… charged with anything?”
“No, no, I don’t think so. All I had were a few files from the reporter. I knew so little about her investigation. I can’t see how that could be a crime…”
“Her investigation?” Amy asks, her voice taking on a new quality.
“Yes, her. Eva Richards, that reporter from The Herald I told you about.”
There’s a long silence before Amy asks, “Was she the woman who came to see you in the hospital?”
I nod, surprised that Amy remembers this detail. “Yeah, that’s right,” I say.
“Are you still in contact with her?” Amy asks.
“No,” I say simply, trying my best to avoid reliving a tragedy that’s still heavy on my conscience.
“So what happens next then?”
“I’m not sure, babe,” I say shakily. And I mean it.