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The bell rang three times strong and clear in the spacious town square before I was challenged by one of the Town Council members. “Stop ringing that bell!” He shouted at me. “You have no right. That bell is off limits to you. It is our bell, and only we can ring it.”
I obeyed, but one cannot unring a bell, and it was not long before our friends had come running to hear the news or to see if Joseph had been found. I held up the bloody shirt for all to see. “I found this not far from the Indian village. It appears to be Joseph’s shirt. The Chief told me that he had talked with Joseph last evening and that he left this morning to return to Newkirk. But obviously, something happened to him on the way. It looks like foul play, and I cannot say whether he is dead or alive.”
“He was probably attacked by a wild animal,” the Town Council member shouted from nearby, where he had been listening.
“I saw no evidence of wild animals,” I told the disciples, doing my best to ignore the Council member. “The Chief seemed confident last night that Joseph was alive, not by any physical evidence, but by spiritual discernment.”
Kika spoke up. As a respected tribal member, he was given a name that means wisdom. 176 “If the Chief believes that Joseph is alive, it is because he senses that his spirit is still with us in the earth. We should trust his discernment and continue looking for him.”
We all agreed.
“You will not find him here in Newkirk,” the Council member interjected from the outside of our circle of fellowship.
His persistent and unwelcome comments made me suspicious, for it seemed that he was unusually interested in convincing us of Joseph’s demise. He appeared to be interested primarily in stopping an investigation, and once he had committed himself to an opinion, he seemed more interested in maintaining his position than in discovering the truth.
“Let us continue to search the town for him. Ask everyone if they have seen Joseph this morning. And check the town jail,” I said, glancing at the Council member suspiciously. “Let us meet back here at sundown at the latest. Maggie and Atsa, please come with me.”
All left the square going in different directions. As for me, I felt constrained to return to the mountain, taking Maggie and Atsa with me, to consult again with the Voice from the crack. Perhaps the Creator would tell us what had happened to Joseph and what we should do about it. I drove to the lodge and from there we began the trek up the mountain path toward the large, glowing crack on the side overlooking the valley.
“How will Joseph’s disappearance affect our fellowship?” Maggie asked as we walked. “I mean, I realize how important he is to us, and it seems that his disappearance hinders the start of our mission. Would we be able to do the work ahead of us without him?”
“No, his presence is required, as far as I can tell. That is what makes me suspicious of the Town Council, for they seem to have a strong motive to kidnap Joseph—especially when he began to speak of the Creator’s rights. The Council has gradually usurped power over the years, and now that the day of reckoning is near, it is only natural that it would fight to retain its position of power.”
“That sounds ominous,” she said. “Would they not be motivated to kill him?”
“Certainly, but I do not think the Creator would allow him to be killed,” I responded quickly, “and the Chief’s words give me hope as well. If Joseph’s presence were not so vital to this mission, it might be possible for him to be replaced, but it seems to me that his death is not in the Creator’s plan. Yet we live in a time of transition from one age to another. The earth always heaves and groans in times of great transition. Those who rule the present age do not want to see changes, because few of them are called to rule in the age to come. What do you say, Atsa?” 177
Atsa was another member of the tribal council, one with the gift of prophecy. His reputation had given him his name, which means eagle.
“When usurpers rule, they live in fear,” he said. “Their power over men may be great, but they know that they have no power over the Creator whose authority they have usurped. They can never be sure of the time that He will assert His rights and restore all earthly things to their heavenly order. Past uncertainty, however, has now been replaced by fear and desperation. Joseph’s message made it clear that their time had come to an end. They will do what they can to stop the Creator, rather than repent of their deeds, for their confidence in the first covenant has locked their minds into thinking that the will of man is stronger than the Creator’s will. Their own hearts deceive them into thinking that they might win against the divine plan.”
“They need a change of heart,” Maggie said. “If it is true that the Creator’s plan is to include all of mankind, then their hearts must change at some point. Perhaps they will give up this fight and join with us,” she said hopefully.
“That would certainly be desirable,” I replied. “However, in every great story there is a hero and an enemy. The best stories also include a betrayer. This is an epic story that the Creator is telling, and He will resolve the conflict in the end. However, there is still another long chapter to be told, and the prophecies show that there yet will be betrayers and enemies to overcome for a considerable amount of time. We will win this present battle, but most of our enemies will not be reconciled until an age to come. Meanwhile, we must search for Joseph.”
Atsa then responded, “The Council of Newkirk is playing the role of betrayer in our present story. 178 According to our histories, the Council of Kirk played the same role in earlier days. 179 In both cases, human nature is the same, and it appears that the Creator is repeating the story with a new cast of characters and a new context. We are caught in a great whirlpool in the muddy stream of time.”
He continued, “The eyes of the Creator have searched the town of Newkirk with no sign of Joseph there. I believe we must broaden our search to include other towns farther down the valley. The eagle even now flies east.”
“I agree,” I said. “If the Council of Newkirk kidnapped Joseph, it is not likely that they would take the risk of someone in town seeing him. They would certainly anticipate our search party as well. It is more likely that they conspired with others and are holding him in another place.”
At that moment we rounded the final bend in the path, and the glowing crack loomed in front of us. A steady torrent of water now poured out of its mouth, making its way down the mountain, climbing over rocks and pushing through grass and trees until it reached the green valley below. We approached the glow and sat down upon the great flat rock of meditation overlooking the cavern.
We closed our eyes in silence, hearing only the sound of falling water as it pummeled and scraped numerous rocks of various sizes. The eyes of my spirit brightened, and I saw the new earth—earth as it should be, earth as it was meant to be, earth in union with heaven, living stones, living water, living trees, all in harmony with each other and with the Creator’s will.
I saw also the spirit of Maggie and that of Atsa, and they saw me. United as one, having one heart and one mind, we seemed to float weightlessly in the presence of Majesty. Colors reflected the Creator’s scent and changed with each divine thought. His smile charged the air, and we breathed in the fresh, vibrant spirit of immortality. Ancient secrets of life, buried with forgotten saints in nameless graves, wisdom lost in ragged books attended only by the stirred-up dust of magi and philosophers, knowledge lost when empires collapsed in ruin before the hot breath of destiny—all now flowed freely toward us, swirling through us with enlightenment once common to all, but remembered by few.
Then the Voice spoke with gentle force, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon you, because I have anointed you to bring good news to the afflicted. I have sent you to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, to rebalance justice in the earth and to bring the Comforter to those who mourn for the dead.” 180
We remained silent with bowed heads and humble hearts, awed by the power, but strengthened by the confident air of certainty in each word. There was no hint of possible failure, no darkness that could escape the light, no will that could stand in His face, no wise advice of foolish sages that might seek to change His purpose, and no mixture of love and selfish desire to compare with this Pure Love.
“What do you see?” the Voice asked.
“A mountain and light from the crack,” I answered.
“This is the mountain of the Lord’s house,” the Voice said. 181 “You are that mountain, and the light is within you. Today you will know that the mountain has cracked, and the veil has been torn. A light shines from you into a darkened world.”
“Arise, shine,” the Voice continued, “for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. Darkness covers the earth, and deep darkness rests upon the people, but I will rise in you and through you, and My glory will appear on you. 182 You will live and not die!” 183
Our spirits grew bright as the sun. For the first time we were given the eyes of God, and we saw who we really were, spiritual beings long veiled by earthly flesh, hidden not only from the world, but also from the eyes bequeathed to us from our ancestors. We could not lose, for we were part of the Creator’s flesh and bone, and He never loses or fails in any purpose or plan.
The sun stood still in this realm of light, where time is replaced by purpose. Though it all took place in a moment of old earth time, we spent an eternity in His presence in the new earth. There we saw with one eye, heard with one heart, and knew with one mind all that the Creator had prepared for those who love Him. 184
When the time finally arrived for us to be sent back into the dim world of men’s reality, we carried with us the Mandate of Heaven. All residual fear of the opposition was gone. Boldness now rested upon us, for we walked in a new reality, the revelation that we were not only agents but sons, offspring of His Being, invincible for as long as He willed, conquering in life and denying death any victory.
Yet as we returned to the valley, we felt the weight of the earth upon our shoulders. We each carried a portion of divine responsibility that had been assigned to us through our callings. But something had changed in us, our perception of reality, our personal awareness, our understanding of our small place in a very big plan. Most of all, we knew that we were not our own. We did not belong to ourselves, for we were owned by the One who had created us and had given us life.
“The eagle,” Atsa said, pointing toward the east. It flew toward us until it landed upon the top branch of a nearby tree. “Trees are men,” Atsa informed us. 185 “It has seen Joseph.”