Bekka arrived in the lounge the next morning with her guitar and a pile of music. She and Jonathan had planned this hour together. She would play some well-known songs and he would give a brief message. They had arranged for Sally to lead them in prayer and give others the opportunity to pray too.
Bekka set up her music stand and began to sing softly as people came in. She had a clear, sweet voice, and the chatter died down as the rest of the Class of 1990 settled. Just listening to her play and sing, was worship.
She played on. Everyone had arrived.
With a feeling of sadness, she stopped singing and welcomed everyone. Then she upped the tempo, singing old familiar choruses and hymns everyone knew. The mood shifted and people began to worship their God with enthusiasm. Clapping, moving, singing their hearts out, the praise was free and spontaneous as she led them through half a dozen melodies, letting the Holy Spirit guide her. She could feel his presence in the room and she let herself praise him with delight.
Dean could hear the singing from his room. He was aware of the joy the others were feeling. But his heart was cold and his thoughts were heavy. Nobody could love him like that. He was not worthy of such love. He had done too many bad things.
“Your sins are forgiven.”
The voice from the dream persisted. The brown eyes full of love, shining.
But how could they be forgiven? He closed the door to the garden, but still the singing drifted down the corridor. It was impossible to shut it out. He opened the Sunday newspaper which had been delivered with his breakfast and tried to concentrate on what he was reading. But the singing wove itself through his thoughts like a slow-moving stream.
Sally invited people to share any scriptures or prayers God had laid on their hearts. Her friends responded. There was now a sense of excitement in the room as if God was going to do something wonderful. Mary prayed it would be Dean, coming to know God as his Saviour. Others prayed similar prayers. Everyone was aware of Dean’s absence. It was sad, but it hurt too. They had tried so hard.
Gordon, who was due to tell his story after tea, spoke up.
“Friends, I sense an element of sadness in the room, in spite of the joy of our worshipping together for the first time ever, and feeling the presence of God amongst us.”
People muttered their agreement. Gordon continued.
“I believe God is telling us to trust him. I know Dean is not with us. It has become apparent, during the course of the weekend, that he has not recognised Jesus as his Saviour. But I also believe God has it in hand. Maybe this weekend is not the moment that great meeting will happen. But we have planted seeds – a ton of seeds – and we have spoken of Jesus as our friend and helper. I know God’s word does not go out without bearing fruit. Someday, somewhere, Dean will meet Jesus and will acknowledge him as Lord.
“Don’t be disheartened, my friends. God has got this. We can only do what we can – God is the one who will draw Dean to himself in the end. Let’s praise God now. We have asked. We trust. Now we can thank God for His answer, even if we may never know what this is on this earth.”
Joy soared through the room as begging prayers turned to prayers of praise, for what had been, what was at that moment, and what was still to come.
Bekka played again, gentling her music so some were reduced to tears as they sang to their God.
Jonathan spoke about hope. Looking back over their lives, he said, so many of them had seemed to be without hope. Yet look at them now, serving Jesus, doing work they loved, facing difficult situations with courage and wisdom. His message was inspiring and challenging and they listened, caught up in his words, hearing God speak to them through him.
It had gone quiet. But one song rang in Dean’s mind. He tried to clear it away by humming other songs he often heard on the radio. He tried to concentrate on the newspaper stories spread before him. But nothing was working. One phrase wound its way around everything he read.
“How great Thou art.”
But he didn’t believe in God.
“How great Thou art.”
“No! No, I don’t believe in you!”
The song faded from his mind as the words slipped away. He turned back to his paper to read about the plight of Syrian refugees in their war-torn country.
“See,” he said to himself, “there can’t be a God, to allow such awful things to happen to people.”
But the love in those brown eyes from yesterday’s dream tugged at him, and the vivid memory would not let him go.