“Strelley?” he asks. Then he confirms by repeating, “Strelley.”
Edward Strelley says nothing. Instead, he bows his head, and his eyes close in silent prayer.
“I had not thought to see you again,” Harper says. “But I am glad that you have come.”
Again, Strelley says nothing. Harper goes to him, and takes his hand. “You have not seen your fellow man at his best since we last spoke. Do not be disappointed. God will love them all just the same. I am sure of it.”
“The sinners? The unrepentant? The unfaithful?” Strelley’s voice is cracked and uneven.
“Yes, Edward. He loves them.”
“But He does not take them to Him in Heaven.”
“Ah, you presume. I do not pretend to know the mind of God. But if Hell is anything, it is to be apart from God. Not some fiery torture, for that is nothing compared to being without God.”
“Do you think, Edward Strelley, that God is vengeful and angry?”
Strelley lifts his eyes to Harper’s. “The God of the Old Testament is.”
“God, who sent us His son to save us from our sins? Do you think that God, who can see through the masks and the words of men, for whom a life such as ours is no more than the blink of an eyelid, do you think that such a God could abandon his flock, no matter their sins?”
“We are taught that we must avoid sin. Repent.”
Harper smiles. “That you must. But if you fail God, He will not fail you.”
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought