The heavy oaken door opened slowly at Julia's hand, and she smiled out upon the slightly bent elderly man on her front step.
"Mrs. Samuels?" Julia nodded, and through a nervous sigh he continued. "I need to talk to you about Jeremy."
Julia pulled back, tensed and stiffened. A chill wind seemed to sweep through her deepest inner being as a paralyzing dread gripped her. She had known this day would come, yet her weakness within betrayed any preparations she might have made.
Her heart raced back through the last eight years to a dreadful time, that one awful day when he left home. Her sweet, blessed little boy; the joy of her heart; so full of life but now ensnared in sin, was leaving. Reprobate friends, a cold and heartless circle of influence, had drawn him slowly into a drug induced darkness that pulled him away from all that was light. Rejecting his parents had been the final step on this perilous journey, and after gathering a few belongings his silhouette had stood like an empty shadow against the sunlit backdrop of the open door, this very door, as he had turned to leave.
"Jeremy, please don't go..." she had pleaded with him.
"Son, think about it again. Talk to me, I want to help you." Randy reached out his hands to his son, but Jeremy turned away.
"Leave me alone!" he had sneered at them. "This is my life, and I'll do what I want."
"But what about God... the Bible... or heaven?" she had pleaded. "What about your family?"
Jeremy had replied coldly, "There's no place in heaven for me, Mom," and through fresh streams of tears she had watched him disappear down the street.
That was eight years ago; eight long, agonizing years. She remembered that first painful Christmas, he was just two weeks gone and the loneliness was so fresh; so biting. Each ongoing year was another exercise in faith; desperate prayers and deep longing for news, any news, but none came. He had left the city, fallen deep into the deadly drug scene, and they faced the statistical fact that future news would likely not be good.
Now as she stood, finally looking into the face of the messenger, she recoiled slightly and turned a fearful, ghastly pale. Across the room Randy had sensed her anxiety, and she suddenly became aware of his hands holding the backs of her arms, whether to brace her or to anchor himself against the truth to come she did not know.
Outside the door, their reaction took the little visitor by surprise. Suddenly he realized their plight and, flashing a sincere and comforting smile, he quickly added, "He's fine, I just left him."
Julia's knees began to shake as her heart fluttered in a storm of emotions: sudden shock and relief mixed with confusion and joy. She felt Randy's trembling hands holding on to her as the man continued.
"I am Greg Wilkins, director of the Heart of Christ mission downtown. Jeremy came to us a few days ago, a broken and empty young man. He shared with me his story, how he fell into addiction and how the drugs had ruined his life. We talked at length, shared some scriptures, and he attended several of our services."
He paused, then looked directly at Randy and Julia with a twinkle of excitement in his eyes. They waited with breathless anticipation for him to continue.
"Two nights ago Jeremy came to the altar, and gave his life to God. He cried, he prayed, and he came away with a wonderful change in his heart. I just dropped him off at the Faith Friends rehab center, and although he can't have contact with anyone for 60 days, he sent me with a message to give you. He said to tell you 'There is a place in heaven for me.'"
Julia staggered into the room and fell into her chair, vaguely aware of reality around her as Randy exchanged numbers with the man and shook his hand as he left. Then taking her hand, he smiled and kissed her, and they thanked God together.
Randy was bubbling with exuberance. "Sixty days isn't so far away - we might actually have Jeremy home for Christmas this year."
Julia smiled back and through cleansing tears of joy replied, "He's already home, Randy. He's already home."
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