“David. The youngest brother. Dismissed by his family as too young. And yet used by God to change the course of his country’s history through his skill and humility. When I got home that night, I dug around and found a dusty bible in one of the bookcases that filled our home. Not that anyone ever read any of the books in them. They were just there.”
“I read the story of David. What I found so amazing was that being the youngest had not condemned him to insignificance. He had changed his world. What was stopping me from changing mine? Mary and I had a long chat the next day when I shared my ideas with her. That chat ended with the two of us kneeling together in my bedroom and praying for Jesus’ help to guide me as I grew up and ventured out into the world.”
“The result was beyond anything I had imagined. I was struck by the effect David had on his country. A hunger began to grow inside me. I began to dream of being part of the decision-making body of the Government in London.
“I began to work, much to my parents’ delight – they did actually notice the improvement in my results. I passed my exams with flying colours and went on to study politics, amongst other subjects, at Oxford. I could have stood as a candidate for the Government, but felt that I needed more experience. So I found work as a PA to a Member of Parliament. I’ve been successful. Others have tried to head-hunt me, but I enjoy what I’m doing.”
“In fact, I love it. Being involved in the making of decisions that affect the whole country is an exciting challenge. I hope to stand as an MP in my own right, in the not too distant future. I want to make a difference. I trust with God’s help, I will succeed. I do believe I can do all things through Christ, and I try to live my life in Westminster as a testimony to the love of Jesus.”
“I may be the youngest in my family, but, since hearing about David, I no longer see myself as insignificant. He conquered his giant, and I am vanquishing mine. His story has inspired me to grasp my dream and work towards it.”
A hum of chatter broke out. Simon raised his voice above the noise.
“Folks, that’s all for tonight. Sleep well. We’ll meet here tomorrow morning for a special celebration with some worship at nine if that’s okay with everyone? The dining room will be open from seven thirty.
People responded, some heading for the bar, some chatting where they sat. Dean got up leaning heavily on his stick.
“I’m fine, Simon,” Dean brushed away the comment he could see Simon was about to make.
“I’m just tired. I need to sleep. I probably won’t join you for breakfast or worship tomorrow.”
Simon’s heart sank. They had a special surprise for Dean which they had planned to give him at breakfast. Well, that wasn’t going to work now. It would have to be delayed. At least the man hadn’t asked to be taken to the station early. Not yet anyway.
“Okay, that’s fine Dean, although we’ll miss you.” Dean grunted at Simon’s comment.
“I’ll see you around tea time.”
“Yes, goodnight, then.”
Mary and Rob joined Simon as he watched Dean hobble to the door. The man was so cantankerous. Had someone said something to upset him?
“Simon, is everything okay?”
“I’m not sure. Something’s happened. Dean won’t talk about it. I hope it’s nothing one of us said.”
“Well, I was going to tell you, but early this evening, before supper, I had a chat with him,” Mary said. “He said he needed a drink. He told me he’d had a dream.”
“Yes, he wouldn’t tell me more than that, but I got the impression it had unsettled him.”
“He asked me about my story at supper,” Rob said. “He wanted to know what I meant when I said my life changed after I had prayed. I told him it was as if I was being sought, almost pursued, by God. The poor man nearly choked on his pudding. He cut me off then. Didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Are you worried about him?”
“I have a feeling,” Simon said, “that God is nudging him. I presumed, because the stories had had such a positive effect on us, they would have convinced him too. But that’s not the case. He’s struggling with all this talk of God and changed lives.
“Can we find a place where we can pray together? I think we need to give this to God. I’d like to invite Rory and Mike to join us too. I feel God is calling the five of us by name to take Dean to Jesus. Rather like the friends of the paralytic did when they carried him on a pallet to Jesus and let him down through the roof with ropes.”
“That’s strange,” said Mary, “that’s how I’ve been feeling too. But there were only four friends in that story. Are you sure you want me too?”
“Yes, Mary. You’re definitely needed as part of this group. Please come.”
“Okay, I would like to join you.”
“We can use my room,” Rob said.
Simon called Mike over and they stopped at the bar to invite Rory to join them. Rob led them up to his room, where the five of them spent time in prayer – not only praying for Dean but for the Class of 1990 too. It left them feeling weary, but at peace with what God was doing behind the scenes.
Dean grabbed his cigarettes from his bedside table and went outside to smoke. The sun had just set and the whole lake was apricot and gold. It was very still. He thought he might take a short stroll so began to make his way slowly across the lawns to the water’s edge. The only sounds were the lapping of the tiny waves on the beach, and the occasional call of an owl, hunting in the woods somewhere beyond the hotel grounds.
He sat on a bench, smoking his cigarette. The peace of his surroundings and the comfort of the smoke calmed him. He began to feel relaxed. Looking back over the day, he was bewildered by it all. The emotions which had flared – fear, anger, doubt. The stories he had heard – all of them, seemingly, with promising long term results. Even Rory, whose little son had died, had seemed to find a positive focus for his grief and loss.
Was God really at the centre of this day and all that had happened? Was he pursuing Dean? Was that why there was the familiar restlessness in his life? Who was that man in his dream? The more he thought about him, the more he understood that the light in those beautiful brown eyes could only be one thing.
But nobody loved him now. Not even his mother had loved him like that. How wonderful it would be to feel loved. To live a life unfettered by regrets and physical limitations. How wonderful …
His mind drifted as he gazed at the calm lake. The water was tinged with gold but the hills on the other side were now in shadow. Behind them, Dean could still see the glow of the setting sun. For a while, he just sat there and let the peace of the place surround him. He was aware of warmth. Not sun-warmth, but an internal kind of warmth he hadn’t encountered before.
The owl swept low across the water, just visible in the dusk, breaking his thoughts. He did not hear it but caught sight of the movement as it flew towards him over the garden. He stubbed out his cigarette, his third, and dropped it in the receptacle placed there for that purpose. He wondered what the others thought about the weekend. It seemed to him as if they were all enjoying it.
Well, to be honest, there were moments he had enjoyed too. He shivered. It was cooling down, so he heaved himself to his feet and plodded up the gentle slope back to his room. Closing the door and drawing the curtains, he had the feeling he was shutting the world out. That was fine, as far as he was concerned. He would have breakfast in his room and let the others do their worship. He wasn’t really interested and needed a bit of space.
He felt a pang of regret as he made this decision, but he shrugged it off.
Climbing into bed, he hoped there would be no more dreams. One in a day was quite enough. He couldn’t cope with any more.