The team celebration ended sharply at eleven o’clock that night. Todd’s parents had graciously invited the entire team and friends to one of their restaurants for a night of milkshakes and hamburgers on-the-house. The majority of the team had church the following day and everyone was physically and emotionally worn out. Michael bade everyone goodnight, took Abby’s hand and walked her to the beat-up Chevy pickup truck he affectionately called “Harriet.”
Finally away from the crowd and inside the truck, Michael leaned in and gave her a long kiss. Abby felt weak. She used the manual crank and rolled down the window.
“You keep doing that, and you’ll have to make me a respectable woman.”
Michael smiled. “That’s what my dad keeps telling me.”
“Well, you ought to listen to the Reverend. But before you do, please continue to take advantage of me.”
They both chuckled and embraced. Michael squeezed her tightly. Besides Todd, Abby was his best friend. He leaned in for another kiss. Halfway through it, Abby pulled away, slowly; regretfully.
“You had better get me home.”
David Knight crept out of bed. It was 1:15 a.m. Tara was sleeping soundly and the entire house was quiet. He walked down the hallway and checked in on the children. They were both asleep; beautiful at rest as children always are. He thanked God and walked down to the small, extra bedroom that he used as his study.
David sat at his desk and leaned back in his chair, still riveted by the events at church earlier that night. He thanked God a second time and looked at his sermon notes tucked inside his Bible. “A Time and a Season” it was called. The people had responded to the message in a big way. If there was anything David had learned in his relationship with God, it was that He was unpredictable. God never seemed to send advance notice that He intended to show up at a meeting. That service had been no different.
David had been fired-up in the pulpit. He talked to the people about seasons and decisions, and that no one was guaranteed additional time: “We all have to make the best of the time we’re given. The place to begin is with the One who put us here in the first place. Salvation can only be found through His Son, Jesus, who is prepared to accept anyone who is willing to come.”
He could see by the look in their eyes and the involuntary nods of agreement, his message was reaching the audience. At the end of the preaching, as Jeremiah had taught him, David issued an invitation for all to come to Jesus. To his amazement (and delight) twelve people stood up and walked to the podium. All were broken and repentant as people are when the Lord is seriously dealing with their hearts.
One woman openly wept. She covered her face with both hands and sobbed loudly. Tara responded and placed an arm around her. Other church members gathered around the eleven other people who wanted to accept Jesus or rededicate their lives to Him. David didn’t have enough church members trained to assist the people who needed to conduct their spiritual business.
He took control of the situation, separating the folks at the podium into sub-groups depending upon their stated spiritual need and paired them up with trained counselors. The rest of the church intently watched as he organized the groups of people. In the background the small praise team played a soft hymn. He remembered thinking that he could use Michael at that time.
To his right, the woman had stopped crying. She was speaking quietly with Tara, who had her arm around her shoulder, and wiping tears from her own eyes. Now organized, David stepped back on stage to close the service. He then ended the service with a closing prayer.
He encouraged the congregation to stick around, greet, and encourage all who had made decisions. Tara walked up to the podium and handed him the stack of index cards that recorded the names, addresses and decisions the people had made. David was already swooning under the demonstration of God’s power when he glanced back at Tara who was staring at him with reddened eyes.
The card on top of the batch read: I Have Come to Accept Jesus Christ as My Personal Savior. The name on the upper right-hand corner of the card read: Elsie Sanchez. David shook his head as he recalled the moment he read the words.
Ramon’s mother had come to the Lord.