“If there is only one person that makes it into the rapture, you believe you will be that one.”
I sat with wide eyes as a child listening to that statement. I squirmed in my chair looking around to count all the spiritual people that would make it before me. How could the minister not make it? His wife certainly would have to, and surely the song leader and the deacon. It was going to be such a small number, how would there ever be enough room for me?
Nightmares of coming home to an empty house with no mommy or daddy met me night after night. Vivid images of hideous beasts and demons haunted me. The sermons of concentration camps and the terrors of the tribulation made their way into my little thoughts as I drifted off to sleep.
Tribulation. Hell on earth. The bride was to be such a small number. Brother Branham always seemed to emphasize the number eight, just like Noah’s ark. I began to count again: Brother Billy Paul, Brother Joseph, Brother Billy’s wife, Brother Joseph’s wife, their kids… I ran out of fingers. Confused, I wondered just how many would be in the rapture. Surely all of Brother Branham’s family, after all he said anyone who loved him would be there. I began to reason that perhaps because they were family, I didn’t have to count them. I started over: Brother Byskal, Brother Green, Brother Reagan, my pastor, the song leader… I ran out of fingers again.
I thought about Brother Branham’s horse and his green chair. His dog was there. Surely, just surely I could go too. Night after night the nightmares came finally sending me crying to my parent’s room where my dad led me to the Lord at the very tender age of six. I didn’t want to miss it. I didn’t want my mommy and my daddy to leave me behind.
This was the beginning of fear. Once I voiced this fear aloud and was told that the fear of the Lord was the beginning of wisdom. This taught me that fear was okay. It was normal to be afraid. My nightmares followed me to into my adult life. They changed from coming home to an empty house with no family, to my children being taken away from me and me being placed in a prison for not denying my faith. I would wake up scared, everything was so vivid and real, often I rose to check on my babies and pause to listen to their steady breathing. They were so peaceful and so unaware, just as it should be.
The Bible tells us “Do not fear” and “Do not be afraid” at least 365 times.
As a child I was taught demons were real, when someone was prayed for you were to bow your head so the demon did not jump on you. I was told about the mark of the beast, the great tribulation, and the many imagined things that it would bring. No food, prison camps, torture, be-headings, giant bugs eating women who cut their hair, numerous details I really don’t care to remember. I was taught fear.
With this fear was the act of conforming and obedience to all that was said to be right. You wanted to do what was right, what did the prophet say about that? Quotes; they were beloved, spoken like scripture, recited, and ingrained in your mind from childhood.
“If there’s just going to go, be one, that’ll be me (Amen.), ’cause I believe.” See? That’s the way you want to believe it. “Be me.” 63-0320
Yes indeed, if there was only going to be one, you believe you will be that one. How? How could you possibly make it with all of these spiritual ministers and people around you? There wasn’t enough room; the number was just too small. Doubt always lingered, and the plans of survival set in. As a small child I kept a backpack in my closet with plans of escape. Looking back on that, it makes me sad. No child should have to live in that fear.
There was always a statement that I held onto:
Just then, a voice spoke and said, “All that you ever loved, and all that ever loved you, God has given to you. We’re all here together.” Oh, my, my heart just melted within me. “All that you ever loved, and all that ever loved you, is gathered here with you to meet God.” 60-0608
That’s it? I just have to love Brother Branham and I’ll be there? I love Brother Branham, I can do that. I think perhaps this is the beginning of my veil between me and Christ. I can remember prayers where I said something like, “Lord I believe, your prophet Brother Branham said…” Why on this earth would God send His only Son to die in our stead to be the ONLY mediator between God and man for us to be sent a “prophet” to take his words and rely upon them above Jesus’? As though Jesus was not enough?
The elitism, the attitude that I was special; I was “one of them”…. I had a prophet. How privileged I was to be called to the message, to know God sent a prophet in my day. After all, it wasn’t for everyone, but it was for me. This attempted to silence my doubts.
“If only one makes it, you believe you will be that one.”
I thought of all the people I would leave behind. I was told not to worry about that, that it was just to build my faith.
Reflecting on these teachings from my childhood, I hesitate to share them. I don’t want to hurt my parents or the people I grew up with. I don’t think these are thoughts they intended me to have. I honestly don’t think they even knew I had them. I think had they known, they would have reassured me and done everything they could to relieve me of those fears. If you can take anything away from me sharing this portion, perhaps you can relate, perhaps you cannot, but can you ask yourself, “What did the children grow up hearing?” Children are so impressionable, what are they hearing?
Brother Branham said Noah was supposedly a ‘type’ of the bride that went in the ark. In another ‘type’ Enoch was the bride and Noah and his family went through the tribulation. This never made sense to me. In my study, I’ve thought about Noah preaching to the people telling them what was coming. They didn’t believe him. They ignored him. Many probably thought he was crazy and steered clear of even crossing paths with him. I thought about Noah and his family walking into the ark and looking outside one last time to invite the people to come in. Perhaps his sons pulled at his sleeve and said, “It will be okay Dad, just come in and sit down.” Noah didn’t shut the door. I don’t think he could have. Not because it was heavy or cumbersome, I think as he looked out on his family, friends, and neighbors, the people he had known all his life, grew up with, went to school with, worked with them, he knew them… how could he close the door on them? Do you think that perhaps just maybe he wanted to drag them in by the hair of their head, bind them, and gag them until it was all over?
Or do you see him clinking glasses with Ham, Shem, and Japheth; “It was for us, it wasn’t for them anyway. Look! There goes another one!”
I imagine after the door shut they sat in silence with tears streaming down their faces listening to the cries of the people being washed away. They sat there helpless. Mothers with babies were washed away, small children, their family. You realize Noah had in-laws. His son’s wives had family. They left people behind. They went into the ark full well knowing they would never see them again.
“If there is only one…”
I can’t help but see children running around in a circle playing musical chairs. Too many children and not enough chairs. The music keeps playing and the children eye the chair. They are not about to give up that chair. I’ve decided to walk away before the music stops playing. More than I want the chair, more than I want the prize at the end, I want someone else to have the chair. I want someone else to have the prize.
As I walked away the fear that had haunted me my entire life evaporated. I no longer wanted to “escape”. If there is a rapture, and I could offer my place to someone else, I would. If there is a rapture, whether I go or stay no longer matters.
The “bride” so full of faith and the word was to leave the weak to die for their own testimony. This baffles me. The word says there is just ONE body. If the “bride” leaves how can the body be divided? Will we take the hand and leave the foot? Or are we actually saying those who aren’t bride aren’t His at all?
Further, if there is one way to heaven and that is through the blood of Jesus, why do these people need to seal their testimony with their own blood? The ‘Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ’ clearly says they were washed in the blood of the Lamb and given white robes.
No, I don’t understand this. I don’t understand how I can leave one of His behind to fight just when the battle gets worse. I can’t. I will be with them, I will encourage them. I will tell them they are not alone, they are loved, and that He loves them. We will fight unto the end together. But I will not wait until the end to do so, I will tell them now.
The fear has left. In its place is a love I have never felt before; a love for all people and all creation. I no longer see myself separate and apart from them. No longer do I wish to be taken away from it all. I feel like Abraham, “If there be one more Lord? Can I help just one more?”
Every kindred. Every tongue. Every Nation. His creation. His people. Who are we to divide and say “It wasn’t for you.”
God said it was.
The rapture of fear has taken place. Do not fear. Do not be afraid. He is our rock, He is our portion, and He is our strength, our hope, our refuge. He is everything.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, what can stand against us?” -Romans 8:31
“Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them.” – Isaiah 8
But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.