Jim felt his fingers trembling in fearful anticipation of what reaction might await him – he took a deep breath and fumbled in his old home number and waited.
“ Oh! Wrong number! Sorry!” He had jumbled in the wrong digits.
His finger carefully punched the numbers in again ......5...4...2...8. He felt his heart expanding and pounding against his rib case. I wonder if Dad will believe me.
“Hello, John Williams speaking!”
“I've got something to tell you Dad. I've done it – I've come back into the family – the Christian family that is. I went into drug rehab and Mark, one of the workers, took me to see his Pastor and I came back to Christ. I'm part of Mark's church now – have been for nearly a month – about as long as I've been free from drugs.”
“That's wonderful Son! Praise the Lord! Where you at? We've been worried sick since you severed contact with us.”
“I'm lodging at a rehab hostel in Finsbury. I've got a part-time job at the hostel helping to cook and serve meals. I've a week's holiday coming up and I was wondering if I could home and spend it with you?”
“We'd all love that Son – your Mum and Jane are hovering ready to grab the phone off me. I'll put your Mum on!”
“Sweetheart, we've missed you so much. What's Dad been praising the Lord about?”
“The Prodigal's returned – I've come back to the Lord – and Jesus has delivered me from the power of drug addiction and I've got a job in a hostel kitchen helping to cook and do! Dad says I can come over and spend my first holiday with you at home.”
“We'd love that Jim. I'll just tell Jane the wonderful news, that's if she's not already picked up on it.”
Jim heard mumbled whispering then an amplified, “Praise the Lord!” His whole body twitched - he still suffered from nervy reactions to sudden noise - an after effect from that evil body poison.
“Jim, are they feeding you well in the cook-house, and how do you get your washing done? Bring some with you when you come home, I can easily put it through the washer for you.”
“I've put half a stone on in the last month and we've a communal washer but I'll bring a few bags of dirty clothes with me – can't stand washing really – thanks Mum!”
“I'll pass you over to Jane before she grabs the phone off me.”
“Jim, I can't believe it's you – are you all right? I've really missed you.”
“Me too Sis – I'm sorry I backed off – was really ashamed of myself. I'm so sorry for all the trouble I caused before I left. I promise I'll pay you all back for all the stuff I nicked.”
“Forget it, just glad to get you back – I'm sure Mum and Dad feel the same. Jim, I've got a boyfriend – Matt! He's really nice – you'll like him – he's our new youth leader and he's a great musician!”
“Sis, when I come home I'd like for us to have a stroll along our old crabbing beach – you can tell me all about Matt and things then. Can I speak to Dad now to make the arrangements for my stay?”
“Dad, will it be ok to come next Sunday in time for one of Mum's roasts – no-one can cook like Mum?”
“Sure Son – see you then!”
“Ok Dad – got to go now. Bye!”
Later, when Jim and his sister took that walk along the beach, Jane told him how she had prayed every night for news of him and that she thought it would never come.
He drew her to a halt and put an arm round her shoulder. They were transfixed looking out over the vast timeless ocean, then they faced and embraced, silhouetted like two lovers against a crimson sunset.
Both their hearts beat out inexpressible praise to the Creator.
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