The city of Cusco had shut down for the day in the quiet of a normal Andean night. It was 1949 and, at 11,000 feet in elevation, the nights were bitterly cold and the streets were empty.
Cusco, a city of some 60,000 residents, was still years away from achieving its world-renowned status. All around the city, reminders of the Cusco’s Inca heritage and subsequent occupation by the Spanish could still be found. High on a mountain overlooking the city, the ruins of Sacsayhuaman could be seen, standing like a sentinel over this ancient capital of the Inca Empire. I should have been impressed, but to this 10-year-old, it was just home.
I refer to the city, for there was one night during the two years we lived there that I shall never forget. I recall awakening with a start, disturbed by a loud, rumbling sound outside our home. As it came closer, the noise slowly increasing in intensity and left me pondering its meaning. I listened as it passed us by and then slowly faded into the distance. And then … silence.
I am not sure what prompted the thought, but suddenly I sat up in bed in a cold sweat. One horrifying thought overwhelmed me: “Jesus has come, and I have just heard the departure of all God’s people. I have been left behind!”
It never happened, obviously, and it will not. I am charting the next ten years of my life. My plans notwithstanding, I live each day well aware that this may be the day of my departure. I am ready… and excited… about the prospect. My death – and new life – is but a few years away. Soon, I plan to hear my Savior say, “Welcome home, Larry. The battle’s over!”
It is difficult for me to visualize the nightmare that will be faced by those who awaken on that fateful morning to discover the Christian community has disappeared. In a matter of moments, the world will have changed; nothing will ever be the same again.
Millions of men and women, absent from their posts, will tie up business, travel, and marketing throughout our world. It is difficult to imagine the impact this will have on our society. Hospitals without doctors… automobiles without drivers… students without teachers … airplanes without pilots. All activity comes to a standstill. TV stations go silent, Congress adjourns, gas stations close, highways stopped in gridlock. Panic sweeps the nation, lawlessness goes unchecked.
As a new reality sets in, one man emerges out of the chaos, promising order and recovery. A brilliant mastermind, the man with all the answers, smooth, and articulate, he is an aristocrat. Perfectly placed with the power to bring order out of the chaos, a grateful world quickly falls into line. He’s the man of the hour, an astute political strategist, a deeply religious gentleman, a humble “servant of the people.” Although there are those who voice caution, no one is listening. Order is established, new laws are enacted, and harsh measures are implemented.
And then, after some months of painstaking readjustments, a new normal emerges. Banking, commerce, and transportation function again. The architect of recovery is hailed as the hero of the hour, the man to whom all are indebted. Indeed, the Antichrist has come, but no one knows it.