I woke up to the hurried unzipping noise of our tent flap and knew in an instant that something wasn’t right.
“There’s been a disaster, girls. We need to get to the base of camp with the rest of the group.”
I felt fear. A lot of it.
Though it was pitch black, I knew it was a clear night.
The air was still, but there was a terrible howling noise coming from the amphitheater of our campsite.
It was coming from the loudspeakers.
The sound of terrible tempests bellowed through my church’s youth conference site. In the darkness, I gripped my sweatshirt tighter around me.
Leaves and dried branches crunched underneath my feet as I joined 50 or so other youth from my congregation who were all looking just as concerned. One by one, the flashlights went off, enveloping us in blackness.
I should have known this was coming, I thought.
We sat in silence, huddled together in the darkness, each of us alone with our thoughts.
Mine were racing.
It’s not real. I know it’s not real. I wish it would stop. I hope it ends soon.
And then a shining realization hit me. And my thoughts changed.
Please let him come. Let him come now.
The sound of a thousand terrible tempests rushed around me — through me, it felt like — as I began to pray.
Then, suddenly, after what felt like hours, but was surely only minutes, I was blinded by the most brilliant white light I had ever seen.
It was the summer after I had graduated high school. Somewhere lost in the mountains, I was in the middle of a Book of Mormon re-enactment.
Years have passed since this experience. But perhaps I think of it now as I battle through the sounds of tempest swirling through the blackness once again.
It’s a different sort of blackness. One that comes with headlines bearing the thick, black letters: “Mass shootings” and “terrorist attack.” It’s the sort of blackness that weighs heavier on my soul each day I check the news. Each time I log into social media and see the madness my reality has sunk to.
It’s the sort of blackness that makes the future look, well, hopeless.
And I find myself thinking once again, “Please. Please let Him come.’
Let him come into my heart, my home, my soul.
Let that peace which passeth all understanding clear my view.
As I sat in the woods all those years ago, I knew that light would come. It did.
And now, I ask myself, “Do I still know?”
Tears poured down my cold cheeks as I watched a man, dressed in a white robe utter the words spoken centuries ago by the Savior of all mankind.
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.”
He came. Years and years and years ago, he came. In a stable in Bethlehem, in great glory to the 12 and later to the American continent.
And he will come again.
And yes, oh yes, I still know.
So for now, I will keep living. Dispelling the darkness through the Light of the World.
And when headlines come, as they most certainly will, I will look toward that light. My light.
Because He’s coming. Soon. And I’ve promised Him I’ll be ready.