Succession May 2017
I met Ron on the jogging track of the Viking Star when Genevieve and I took the cruise to Scandinavia in 2016. I loved my early-morning runs while my wife liked to sleep in. After that first run, Ron invited me to join him for breakfast because he was on this trip by himself. It didn’t take long to find out his story. His wife had passed with cancer the year before, and now he was looking for the meaning in life.
Having worked up a fine appetite while jogging, the cruise ship enigma faced us both at the buffet. That splendor demanded attention despite the discipline I had learned in the Navy. There was always more on my plate by the time I got to the table than I had intended. Ron laughed when I sat down because he too had engaged in a losing battle with the chef. We agreed that our net net by the end of this trip was not going to be any lost weight.
When I raised my eyes from the quiet prayer of gratitude, Ron was staring at me as I shook my napkin from its decorative knot. “These folks make sure that every little detail is perfect, don’t they?” I said. He tucked into his meal and didn’t look up for a while. When he did, 10 minutes later, he said “So you’re a Christian?” I nodded a yes.
Over the next three mornings we talked a lot about my faith. On day five as we headed toward Copenhagen he didn’t show up on the track. I guessed that he had finished talking about my favorite subject, and I wondered if I had over done it.
That lunch time I worried about him because the steward asked if I’d seen him. Seems he went missing. Around 2 PM that day the captain approached Genevieve and I with great purpose and said, “Will you come with me please, Mr. Strickland?” I thought he was taking me on a special tour, but as my hand grabbed the railing, I realized we were heading down into the ship. Way down. In the cargo hold he pointed to a faint light at the opposite end, and said, “We found him at 1:30, and he wants to talk to you.” I walked toward where he sat, and tears came to his eyes as I closed the distance. I could see that in his hands he held a Bible. We talked for over two hours. He joined us for dinner that night, and we were soon to learn the rest of his story. After losing his Sarah he had been wandering the world looking for he knew not what. Now, through my conversations, he had found the answer and the question. Three days later we finished up in Bremen and returned to our daily lives.
I was pleasantly shocked to run into him at the track years later. It was after the rapture, and we were all living in the New Jerusalem, at least those of us that made it.
Ron and I talked about that cruise all those years ago, and he thanked me for helping him get here. He had passed from the Old Earth six years later in a car crash and wasn’t a “living raptured”. On the other hand, I was. In fact, I was the last person saved just moments before that great event in history.
So I had talked a good talk on the Viking Star, but I was still lost in sin. Secretly, I was the ultimate hypocrite. I was like that napkin on the ship, pretty on the outside but worthless when tied in a knot. Now I am pointed out wherever I walk. “There he is, the last man to be saved. Thank God he came around or we might have been on the Old Earth another ten years.”
And I? I’m just as happy as everyone else. I found the answer to Ron’s questions, but I didn’t get Old Earth time to enjoy the results. Then just like that “poof ” and here we were. Thank you Jesus!
(You can see that I have been working on character development. This year I will be employing the use of fictional characters from time to time if they illustrate the story better than I could as Bob. Hope you enjoy meeting them and hearing their stories.)