Tony wrapped a scarf tightly around his neck and pulled the zipper of his jacket all the way up to his chin. Quietly he opened the back door of the house and stepped out into the cold night air.
He had waited until everyone was fast asleep. What he had to do, he must do alone. Not even Tie Li would accompany him on this journey.
His boots crunched through the frozen snow as he made his way toward the barn and his beloved workshop.
Once inside, he shed his heavy winter clothes. It wasn’t going to be cold where he was going.
Stepping into his machine and closing the door, he spoke quietly, firmly.
Voyager, power up.”
A series of clicks rattled deep in the corner containers fastened to the exterior of the machine. Lights blinked on, illuminating the confines of the tall box with red, yellow, and white lights. Tony listened as each on-board circuit ran through self-test sequences and displayed their condition in glowing letters on the screen:
TIME-WALL INSERTER-—ON CALL
SOLAR BATTERY RESERVE—100 per cent
Tony studied each report, mentally determining the mechanical condition of his invention.
Finally the long checklist ended, the display went blank. Then the words Destination Code? appeared at the top left-hand corner of the screen. Tony drew in a deep breath. “Zarephath,” he said.
The words disappeared as the machine began to glow with a now familiar blue light. Tony felt Voyager sway back and forth. His eyes remained on the screen as each phase of the journey passed in electronic review before him.
TRACKER CIRCUITS—LOCKED ON COORDINATES
STABILIZING ARM—FULL SPIN
VOYAGER UNDER WAY-—CONDITION (NORMAL)
Tony leaned his head against a panel and let out a long sigh. What would he find at journey’s end? What was he going to see that would help him understand? He waited, listening to the sounds of his machine as the centuries rolled in reverse just beyond the wooden walls surrounding him.
Soon he heard a soft crunching sound as Voyager settled on a sandy surface. After activating the SOLAR RECHARGE switch above his head, he opened the door. Bright sunlight and a hot, dry wind met him as he stepped down from the machine. He squinted, trying to ward off the piercing light and blowing sand. Finding shelter behind Voyager, Tony waited for his eyes to grow accustomed to the sun’s fierce brilliance. Already his body was sweating in the heat.
From his oasis of shade, Tony discovered he was resting on a gently sloping mountainside. To his right, a village of rough brick and stone houses sat baking in the sun. His eyes followed the dusty road that snaked out of the village and wound down the hill. It eventually intersected with another road running along the shore of what looked like an ocean or sea. The deep blue waters sparkled in the noonday sun.
It was hot, very hot. The only sound was the wind whistling through the tall wooden slats of Tony’s machine.
All at once a figure emerged from between two houses and ran along the path leading up the hill toward Voyager. Tony saw the runner stop, lift his hands to his mouth, and call into the wind. “Elijah! Elijah!”
Farther up the hill came a response. “Here I am!”
Tony turned to see a bearded man waving from under a small tree.
“Come quickly! The widow needs you. Please come quickly!” His voice sounded urgent.
The bearded man jumped to his feet and ran down the hill toward the village. Tony followed.
The heat made movement uncomfortable, but the boy kept the man in sight as he moved through the maze of dusty streets. The village seemed deserted. Occasionally the gaunt form of a dog would peek from an open doorway. His bark would catch in his dry, parched throat. All that escaped was a raspy whimper.
The man bounded up the stairs of a small two-story house on the far edge of town. Tony trailed behind, stopping in the doorway to catch his breath. It was a little cooler in the house. At least the darkened dwelling gave that illusion.
A woman was sitting across the room, rocking back and forth, holding a small boy in her lap. Tears ran down her cheeks. She spoke woodenly. “My son is dead, Elijah. He’s dead, and it’s your fault.”
Elijah sat down beside her, and stroked the head of the still form resting on her lap.
She continued her heartbroken lament. “You call yourself a man of God. What is it that you and God have against me? First you bring a famine on the land. You dry up the rivers and streams. Our crops wither in the fields. If God was so unhappy with Ahab and that crazy woman Jezebel, why didn’t He just punish them? Why must a whole nation suffer because of the sins of its king?”
The woman lifted the boy’s body from her lap and held it close. “And now my son is dead. What does he have to do with all this? He’s just a little boy.”
Elijah sat silent in the darkened room.
“It’s my sins, isn’t it?” the woman said, turning to the man. “God is punishing me by killing my son. He sent you here to remind me of all my past sins and to kill my little boy.” She broke down and wept uncontrollably.
After a long moment, Elijah spoke softly, gently. “God weeps with you, woman. He sees your pain. He feels your broken heart. But you mustn’t place the blame for your son’s death on God or yourself.
“While it’s true our whole nation suffers because of the sins of King Ahab, our suffering doesn’t come from God. It comes from the evil power that exists in this world. Your little boy is a victim of that evil.
“If we had followed the laws of God, obeyed His commands, lived by His promises, men like Ahab or his father Omri, or any of the other blasphemers before him, would never have been allowed to rule Israel. But we just let it happen. Now our land and our hearts are paying the price.”
The woman looked up at Elijah. “I have no one. My husband, my son, they’ve left me. I am alone. For whatever the reason, I am alone.”
Elijah sat deep in thought, listening to the dry howl of the wind, his eyes closed as if in prayer. After several minutes he turned and faced the woman. “No,” he said, “you are not alone.”
Standing, the man took hold of the boy. “Give me your son.”
The woman watched as Elijah carried the little body across the room and climbed the stairs leading to the second floor of the house. Tony remained by the front door. As he gazed at the weeping woman, his heart grew heavy. He knew what it felt like to lose someone. Even though the boy and the woman were separated by centuries, their pain was the same. Tony felt a familiar anger growing in his heart. What was it Grandma wanted him to see here? He already knew the pain of loss. There was already sorrow in his heart. Seating himself on the floor, Tony waited.
An hour passed. The wind died down to a hot whisper. Beyond the doorway nothing stirred in the village. It was as if death had spread down the dusty streets and laid an entire city in a deep, sultry grave.
“Mother?” Tony was startled by the sound of a voice coming from the foot of the stairs. The woman raised her head. Her tearstained eyes opened wide as she recognized her son.
Tony stared at the little boy standing beside Elijah. The woman tried to speak, but she couldn’t utter a sound.
“Mother,” the boy repeated as he walked across the room, “why are you crying?”
Arms encircled the child, sweeping him off his feet. “My son, my son,” the woman said over and over in breathless wonder. She stopped, studied the boy’s face, then held him close again.
Tony’s mind whirled in confusion. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. That child had been dead! But now . . .
Elijah stood by the stairs, a smile spreading across his weatherworn face as he witnessed the beautiful reunion. “Woman,” he said gently, “your son is alive.”
Voyager’s bright glow lit the workshop as it settled in its corner. Tony made final adjustments to his machine, connected the solar leads, and entered a few lines of data into his computer. Turning to leave, he jumped when he saw Tie Li standing in the doorway.
“Oh, you scared me, little sister. What are you doing up?”
Tie Li walked over to Voyager. “Where you go, Tony? Why you not take me with you?”
Tony sat down on his work stool. “I’m sorry, Tie Li. There was something I needed to see.” His voice grew quiet, thoughtful. “Grandma was right.”
Tie Li looked up at him. “Grandma? She know about Voyager?”
“Yeah, she knows. You see, I . . .” Tony hesitated, uncertain of his feelings. “Ever since Grandpa died, I—”
Tie Li walked over to him and placed her hand on his. “I know, Tony. I think about it too. My family gone.”
Tony smiled down at his sister. “Tie Li, I found out something about God tonight, something I never thought of before. I saw a little boy who had died come back to life.”
Tie Li’s eyes opened wide. “You saw dead person alive again?”
“Do you know what that means, Tie Li? That means God is even more powerful than death. That means my grandpa, your mom and dad, your brother, anyone who has ever died, can live again. God can raise them from the dead if He wants to. Death is no more than a—”
“Sleep!” Tie Li’s eyes filled with amazement as she spoke. “It only like sleep. God can wake you up if He wants.”
The two stared at each other for a long moment, each lost in thought. Finally Tony spoke. “Do you know what that means?”
“What, Tony? What it mean?”
“Your family and Grandpa and anyone else who has died believing and trusting in Christ can live again!”
Tie Li drew in a breath. “Live again? Live again?”
“God promised it in Eden, remember? He said Satan and evil would be destroyed someday. If we die because we live in a sinful world, and if sin is going to be destroyed, and if God can raise people from the dead—”
“Then I see my family again!” Tie Li’s whole body shook with excitement. “My papa, my mama, my brother, they all live again. I see them someday when God destroy sin!” Tears spilled down her flushed cheeks. “They not gone forever! God love them too, I know He does. Someday He wake them up! Now they just sleep, but someday they live again!”
Tony turned and walked to the door of his workshop. The winter moon illuminated the farmyard with a soft silver light. Looking up at the stars, he imagined an old man and a young boy walking together through a field of ripening corn. Smiling, Tony closed his eyes. “Sleep tight, Grandpa,” he whispered.
1. What did the widow say was the reason her son died?
2. Do nations of people suffer today because of their government leaders? Name two countries in the world where this is true.
3. Elijah said, “You are not alone.” Who was with the widow even though she didn’t know it?
4. Someday God will destroy sin. What else will be destroyed at that same time?
5. Why is it that we as Christians do not have to fear death?