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“…Amen.” Tertius carefully formed the final nu, set his stylus aside and smiled at the wizened man seated across from him in the scriptorium. “That’s that. I’ll have a clean copy ready for your approval in three days.”
Ioannes returned the smile. “That’s good. Only I don’t want it to be you who prepares it. Please turn the work over to one of your assistants.”
“But I’ve always been the one who has prepared your final copies.”
“I know you have, Tertius, and you’ve done a masterful job of it. But I’ve got another task for you. Come walk with me.”
The two men left the room with its scribes bent over parchment and sought the open air. Ioannes remained silent until they climbed part way up one of the hills overlooking the city. He didn’t stop until he was sure there were no unwanted ears to hear what he had to say. For a while he looked out towards where the clear blue of the cloudless sky met the even deeper blue of the Aegean Sea. At this distance the waves washing up on the beach created a barely audible background to the buzzing of insects and the song of birds. Gentle air currents brought the smell of the sea inland to mingle with that of grass and earth. An afternoon altogether too lovely to mar with prophecies of impending trouble. Yet to Ioannes the beauty of the afternoon only emphasized the darkness of the night he foresaw sweeping toward him and all he held dear. He sat down on a boulder and motioned for Tertius to do the same.
“These last few days as you’ve taken down my dictation concerning the visions given me, surely the implications have not escaped you. Persecution is coming. The Brethren will face deception cunning enough to cause even the Elect to doubt. Already we see the workings of evil, complacency and false teaching among the churches.
“Tell me Tertius, when many are martyred for their faith; when many others renounce their Lord either through complacency or because of persecution; when still others actively embrace falsehood, what will happen to the Word? When the very lives of the faithful are at risk will not the sacred writings be at risk also? How can we safeguard the Scriptures? When the church is driven into the wilderness, as my Apocalypse foretells, how can we ensure that the Holy Word will be preserved for it upon its return?”
Tertius looked puzzled. “I don’t have an answer. I’ve never thought about it. Before now it never occurred to me that the Scriptures might be lost. Doesn’t it say in the Psalms that God’s Word is everlasting; that it endures forever?”
“So it does. Yet God often works through the agency of mortal man. Though it is a new idea to you, I want you to give it serious thought during the three days you intended to spend transcribing the master copy of the Apocalypse. I need you to present me with a plan of action for preserving the writings for future generations. And Tertius, you must say nothing of this to anyone else. This matter is for you and me alone.”
Three days later the two men met on the hillside again. This time the sky was overcast. Ioannes shivered and wrapped his cloak tighter around his body as a shield against the cool off-shore breeze. In spite of the cold he made no move to go somewhere warmer. The breeze made it all the less likely that anyone could overhear.
The men sat and Ioannes turned his attention to Tertius. “Do you have a plan?”
“I’ve given the problem a great deal of thought,” Tertius said. “It seems to me that there are several levels to it. First, we must gather the writings. I know that sounds strange since we already have copies, but it seems to me that the best way to preserve the Word is to keep the originals themselves safe. If we are unable to obtain the originals, then at least we must have certified, word-for-word copies.
“It occurs to me that this part of the task is already partially complete. We have the original of Paul’s letter to the church here at Ephesus and his letters to Timothy. We already have the originals of your Gospel and your three letters. And, of course,” he grinned at Ioannes, “we will have the original of the Apocalypse just as soon as you approve the clean manuscript. In addition, we are only a short distance from Colosse. The church there still has the original of the letter Paul wrote to it. However, obtaining the originals of the other writings will require extensive travel.
“The second thing we must do is find a way to preserve documents from decay. We will have to protect the scrolls from both damp and insects. I have heard rumors that before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, the Essenes hid some of their Scriptures. Perhaps we can find someone who knows how they did it. If not, we will have to experiment on our own.
“Thirdly, we must find a secure place to store the writings. By gathering the originals in one place we also run the risk that they will all be destroyed by the same calamity. We must store them in such a manner and in such a place that it is extremely unlikely that the enemies of the faith will find them or even suspect that they exist. Since many of the documents are already here in Ephesus, it seems to me that the place we choose to hide them should be somewhere in this area.
“Fourth, we must also give thought to appointing a succession of guardians. As I understand it, it is not enough to merely preserve the Scriptures. The point is to preserve them for the church of the future. It is no use hiding the writings from our enemies if we end up hiding them from ourselves as well. While the knowledge of the documents and their location must be hidden to almost all, a trusted few must know the secret and pass it on to future generations.”
The two men quietly discussed the situation until the edge of the sun kissed the western horizon. Then, Ioannes stood. “I think we have a workable plan. I charge you with the task of carrying it out. You may select one person to assist you. Make sure that he is totally trustworthy and able to keep his mouth shut. Even so, there is no need to tell him any more than is absolutely necessary. I will see that you receive the necessary funding.”
Tertius placed his hand on Ioannes’ arm. “Before you go, I want to raise another point. I agree that it is essential for us to preserve the Word and I count it a privilege that you have entrusted this task to me. However, it seems to me that it is just as important to preserve the meaning of the words as the Word itself. Frankly, your Apocalypse is hardly written in plain language. I believe that it would benefit the church greatly if you would compose a commentary on the Apocalypse so anyone can understand its meaning.”
Ioannes laughed. “My friend, have you forgotten why our Lord chose to teach in parables? It was to deliberately obscure the meaning of His teaching from those who opposed Him. At the same time, the meaning was plain to everyone who loved the truth. What is the point of my having chosen the form of an Apocalypse to transcribe the visions I saw if I then proceed to translate it into words which the enemies of the cross can plainly understand? Would I not have defeated the very purpose?”
“What you say is true, Brother. Yet there is a point you may not have considered. I am a Gentile. I think I understand most of the Apocalypse but it is only because of my long association with you Apostles and my extensive acquaintance with the Hebrew Scriptures which I have acquired while serving the church as a scribe. Most Gentiles do not have that advantage. Hebrew thought is quite alien to them. Further, since the Roman war against Judea, it seems inevitable that as time goes on an ever larger proportion of the church will be composed of Gentiles. As the Hebrew influence and knowledge decreases, will not the meaning of the Apocalypse become more and more obscure? I can foresee a day when the church is unsure of its meaning. Or, rather, a day when people are sure of differing meanings and factions develop between the adherents of the different schools of thought. I am not suggesting that we distribute the plain meaning along with the copies of the Apocalypse we will publish among the churches. But I do suggest that you prepare a commentary explaining the plain meaning which we will place in the archive of original texts we are going to assemble. To future generations it could prove as valuable as the original text itself.”
Ioannes’ brows creased in thought. “I will consider what you say, Tertius.”
As the two men strolled back toward the city, Tertius pulled a scroll out of his cloak and handed to Ioannes. “By the way, here is the fair copy I promised you.”
Ioannes glanced at it, then stopped and did a double-take. “But this looks like it is written in your hand. Didn’t I expressly tell you that you were to have one of your colleagues do the work so that you could devote your time to this other problem?”
“Did you? I seem to recall that you expressed a desire. You did not give me an order.”
Ioannes shook his head. “Tertius, you are a rogue and will undoubtedly come to a bad end!”
“No doubt,” answered Tertius smugly. “But what does it matter since in Christ I have a place in the new heaven and earth both you and Peter write about?”
Ioannes laughed, touched Tertius lightly on the shoulder then turned and led the way back to town.
Five years after his conversation with Ioannes, Tertius looked around the small chamber in satisfaction. Five years! Five years of hard, painstaking labor. He looked back on months spent in travel, tracking down the sometimes elusive home of the precious original documents he sought. Negotiations with cautious curators and making exact, word for word copies of the originals took months more. Sometimes the custodians happily exchanged the tattered and soiled scrolls in their possession for a pristine copy. Other times carrying away an exact copy instead of the original was the best Tertius could do.
Assembling the documents was only part of the problem. Finding a way to preserve them and hide them was, in some ways, even more difficult. After quite a bit of trial and error he found a type of double-glazed ceramic jar which was totally impervious to water. Before sealing a scroll in a jar, he first threw in a pinch of burning incense. This not only drove out any air and water vapor, which might damage parchment, it warmed the jar so that, after it cooled, the interior was at a lower pressure than the atmosphere outside. This sucked the lid down against a coating of warm pitch on the rim of the jar to form an airtight seal. The incense also had a side effect of killing any worms or insects which might have somehow gotten into the document before being sealed in the jar.
Some of the original manuscripts were faint and hard to read from the ravages of time. Others suffered from much handling. As a safeguard against further deterioration, Tertius placed an exact copy in the same jar with each original.
Ioannes died only two years after setting the project in motion. The source of funding for the project died with him. Tertius barely had enough to complete it.
With the last of the money he bought a tiny house built against a stone cliff on a hill above the city. He and his assistant gradually chiseled a small room out of the stone. Along one side they chipped out a shelf for use as a desk. The rest of the room was just big enough to hold the jars of manuscripts. They made the door from a single slab of rock, four inches thick, which turned on two pivot pins carved from the same slab. They sealed the entire surface of the room against water with a coating of pitch.
Tragedy struck just after they completed the room. Tertius’ assistant became ill and died.
Tertius completed the task of sealing the documents in their jars and placing them in the room by himself. Twenty-eight jars! One for each of the inspired writings, and one for the interpretation of the Apocalypse Ioannes finally agreed to write.
Yes, Tertius could look at the room with well-deserved satisfaction. Yet, he also felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility. His assistant, the man to whom he intended to pass on his trusteeship was dead. He had to find another faithful man to whom he could entrust the secret.
Suddenly, the ground reeled. Tertius looked in alarm at the precious jars. Fortunately, he and his assistant had the foresight to place each jar a little ways apart, each seated in its own indentation in the floor. Straw pads between each jar prevented them from clashing together in the event of an earthquake. Their precaution paid off. There was no breakage. But then another shock rocked the room. Tertius gazed in horror as the door slammed shut. As he threw his weight against it, a loud rumble assaulted his ears. Part of the cliff broke loose and fell. From the outside no trace of the house or the room behind it remained. Tertius was trapped by tons of debris.
He never knew how long he sat stunned, hardly able to comprehend what had happened. Then a tiny bit of humor bubbled up from somewhere deep inside him as he remembered Ioannes’ comment about coming to a bad end. “You certainly got that right, my friend! We’ll have a good laugh about it when I see you in just a little while.”
Then the tragedy of the situation hit him. In spite of his success in gathering and preserving the documents, he had still failed. The knowledge of the repository’s existence and its location would die with him.
He noticed that the light from his oil lamp seemed bluer than normal. He shook the lamp. It still had plenty of oil. Then he noticed that the air seemed stuffy. He began to pant a little and his chest felt tight. “Well,” he said to himself. “At least I’ll be spared from starving to death.” He picked up his stylus and started to write as the light continued to dim.
Mr. Z had a heart attack on the fourth day of the tour. If he had not perhaps more people would have lived. On the other hand, Keith and Stacy might not have survived.
The first few days of the tour went very well, indeed. Mr. Z, as he referred to himself, had the gift of empathy and took a genuine interest in the participants. He also had a love of history and the ability to communicate his own enthusiasm to others. He soon found out what interested each person on the tour and tailored each stop and his presentation to give each one the most enjoyment. He knew when to let people explore on their own while he drifted from group to group pointing out things of particular interest. While speaking to the devout in the group at St. Sofia in Istanbul, he dwelt on how Emperor Constantine’s policies changed church history. To the less devout, he emphasized the mosaics. He spoke knowledgeably about the acoustics to those scientifically inclined.
At the Top Kapi palace he regaled the airheads in the group with tales of the harem, but engaged the politically inclined in a discussion of the problems of leadership and the merits of autocratic rule versus those of representative government. In short, Mr. Z provided maximum value to his clients. Everyone in the group felt he was getting his money’s worth.
There was no reason to doubt that things would be any different when the group left Istanbul for the old Roman province of Asia. Until, that is, Mr. Z suffered his heart attack.
Faced with the alternative of either refunding the tourists most of their money or supplying another guide to take Mr. Z’s place, the tour company naturally opted for providing a replacement. However, the man they sent was a replacement in only a limited sense of the word. True, he had a certain charm. Yes, he was at least as voluble as Mr. Z. Granted he seemed competent in dealing with bus drivers and recalcitrant bellboys. Yet where Mr. Z was friendly, this man seemed to give off just a hint of condescension – as though he were doing the group a favor. Where Mr. Z was genuinely interested in the people he guided, this man gave the impression that he was interested in the group to further his own agenda.
It was the end of a long day traveling by bus from Istanbul to Selçuk, located just outside the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus. While the tour group finished a very late dinner in the hotel dining room the new guide outlined the activities for tomorrow. There would be no formal schedule. Sunday would be a day to rest and take care of mundane things like laundry. It would also be an opportunity for shopping. The guide reeled off a list of shops which were sure to have wonderful souvenirs and gifts to take back for family members. The guide personally knew the proprietors of these shops and they, the shop proprietors, would even give special rates to any member of the tour group who mentioned his, the guide’s, name. (The cynical in the group wondered how much of a kickback the guide would get.)
A woman’s voice interrupted as the guide launched into another description of the wonderful bargains available at a particular shop, “Could you please tell us where and when church services will be held?”
For a moment the guide looked bewildered. “Oh, there are no churches in Selçuk. However, a new nightclub has just opened up. It offers a unique blend of western and Turkish culture. Everyone is on their own for meals tomorrow, but the club has a very popular dinner dance. I’m sure that no one will want to miss it.”
As people started for their rooms Keith Campbell spoke up, “Everyone is invited to a meal and a time of worship in my room, tomorrow evening at 5:30. Please let me know if you are planning to come so I know how many to prepare for.”
Only three people accepted Keith’s invitation. Doctor of Divinity, Adrian Howard was an imposing, silver-haired man in his early sixties. He pastored a large church of several thousand which emphasized social justice and community uplift. He hosted a popular TV program and had several books to his name, the thesis of which was that it is necessary for Christian doctrine and practice to evolve beyond the constraints of a book written thousands of years ago. The spirit and genius of Christ is not to repudiate, but rather to include all. We usher in the Kingdom when we recognize that all cultural practices and lifestyles are reflections of the divine.
Before coming on the tour, Keith had only vaguely heard of the man. Now, meeting him for the first time, Keith instinctively disliked him, but tried hard not to prejudge.
Dr. Howard definitely overshadowed his wife. Shapely, exquisitely made up and fifteen years younger than her husband, she was one of those women who know that it is her job to make sure that her spouse is the center of attraction. When someone tried to engage her in conversation she would often glance toward her husband as if her own opinion were of no consequence or as if she were seeking his approval of her answers.
The third person to accept Keith’s invitation was Stacy Foster, the woman who asked the guide about church services. Her manner suggested she was a woman at peace with herself and her own abilities. At the same time she seemed friendly, respectful of but not cowed by the abilities or attainments of others, and genuinely interested in them as persons. Keith’s first impression of her was that she would be worth knowing better.
Keith placed comfortable chairs around a coffee-table spread with food and had everyone sit. “We are gathered here as the body of Christ,” he said. “At the last meal Jesus ate with His disciples before His crucifixion, He took bread, broke it and asked His disciples to eat it in remembrance of Him.”
Following Christ’s example, Keith broke a piece of crisp, unleavened bread and passed a plate with the pieces around to his guests. After everyone ate a bit of it he gave a short prayer of thanksgiving for the sacrifice of Christ, the food they were about to eat and the fellowship they would have. After the prayer he invited his guests to help themselves to the food.
“As we eat I’d like us to discuss some aspect of our Christian faith. Since we’ll be visiting the ruins of Ephesus tomorrow, I think it would be appropriate if we spent some time thinking about the impact Paul’s ministry at Ephesus and the church there, has on us today. Of course, there is far too much in the New Testament about Ephesus to consider in one sitting, but as a background for our discussion I’ll just read the first twenty verses of Acts, chapter nineteen.”
He did so, then asked for comments or impressions. Somewhat to his surprise, Mrs. Howard made the first comment. “I never realized that the people back then endorsed book burning. We support the library back home. The thought of those people burning all those valuable scrolls just horrifies me. It would be like someone torching our library. The loss of all that knowledge is just awful!”
Dr. Howard jumped in. “What my wife mentioned is a good illustration of the cultural damage which can be done by adopting a too confrontational and dogmatic approach. It resulted not only in the book burning but also in the destruction of the whole silver-smithing industry. Christ intended the Gospel to uplift and improve the lot of people, not cause cultural desecration, wholesale hardship and economic dislocation. I like to think that Paul himself learned from his mistakes at Ephesus. In the letter to the Romans he speaks out against those who rob temples. And to the Corinthians he writes that he became all things to all people in order to win them. That shows that somewhere along the line he learned cultural sensitivity.”
He gazed around the room as if challenging anyone to contradict him. His wife looked at him with adoring eyes. Stacy had a quizzical look on her face. Keith felt a moment of panic. The discussion was rapidly spinning out of control with Dr. Howard’s blatant distortion of the facts.
Fortunately, Stacy bought him the time he needed to gather his wits. “My reaction is a bit different. When I hear the story of what happened in Ephesus I’m amazed at the difference one person can make. In just a little over two years, through the power of Christ, Paul was able to change an entire province. He inspires me. I hope that someday God can use me to make as significant a change in today’s world.”
Keith threw her a look of gratitude. “You’ve all raised interesting questions which deserve a lot more time: The proper response when value systems collide, to what extent the Gospel and culture are compatible or in conflict, and God’s purpose for the individual.
“However, there’s something else about the church at Ephesus which has really made an impression on me. In spite of what you might think from the passage we read,” he smiled and nodded at Mrs. Howard, “the church didn’t have a reputation for being a bunch of book-burning bigots. Instead, what impressed others about the people in the church was their faith and love. In his letter to the church, Paul commends them for it. All through his letter he encourages them to keep growing in their knowledge of Christ and in their love.
“Paul also recognized a potential problem. Acts, chapter twenty records that Paul warned that some of the Elders of the church would try to gain a following for themselves by distorting the truth.
“Paul was right. Some did start teaching false doctrine. Paul delegated cleaning up the mess to Timothy. But it’s interesting to me that Paul writes in his first letter to Timothy that, as important as restoring truth was, the ultimate goal was love.
“I’ve asked myself whether Timothy succeeded. In Revelation, Christ commends the church at Ephesus for getting rid of the false doctrine which plagued them. From that, it sounds like Timothy got the job done. However, Christ also says that the church had lost its love. From that I gather that the church missed the point of restoring the truth. Having the truth without love was at least as bad as having love without the truth. If they didn’t restore their love as well as the truth, Christ would disown them. Since we’ll be looking at ruins tomorrow, I guess that’s what happened. It makes me wonder what Christ thinks of our churches today.”
By the time Keith stopped speaking, everyone had finished eating. Keith poured a little grape juice into four cups. Then he recited 1 Corinthians 11, verses 25 and 26, “…after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (NIV)
“What’s the connection between the church at Ephesus and the death of Christ? On the one hand, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ are the central truths of Christianity. Without them there is no Gospel at all. As Christ, Himself, said – and this has a direct bearing on your point about cultural sensitivity, Dr. – He is the only way to the Father. There can be no compromise on that. On the other hand, the death of Christ is the highest possible expression of God’s love. Truth and love are both essential. We see both in the memorial Jesus instructed us to keep.”
Keith passed the cups around. When everyone finished drinking he closed the service with a brief prayer.
Dr. Howard stood. “That was most entertaining, young man. But your insistence on absolute truth is just a trifle naïve. We are, after all, living in the Postmodern age. Also, you need to re-think your use of Revelation. Since it wasn’t even written until sometime in the late 300s Christ’s purported letter to Ephesus cannot possibly have any relevance to Timothy’s task.”
He extended his arm to his wife. “Come darling. If we hurry I think we still have time to take in that nightclub.”
“What a pompous, arrogant, ill-informed ass!” Stacy fumed as the door closed behind Dr. and Mrs. Howard. “Late 300s, my foot! I’ve personally examined a manuscript of the Revelation from the mid 200s – that’s only about sixty years from the time it was first composed.
“And since when does truth change according to the whims of culture? Either Jesus died or He didn’t! Either He rose from the grave or He didn’t! Culture can’t change the facts regardless of whether Adrian Howard likes it or not!”
Stacy opened her mouth to continue, then blushed and covered her face with her hands. A moment later she dropped them and looked at Keith. “I’m sorry,” she murmured. “Please forgive me for my outburst. I didn’t mean to yell. It’s just that he happened to push one of my hot buttons. I also didn’t appreciate how he belittled your lesson. I enjoyed it and found it thought provoking. I also really like the idea of worship and studying the Scriptures in the context of a meal. At first I wondered what you were up to. I guess it just never sank in before that the Last Supper was an actual meal where the disciples satisfied their hunger as well as listened to Jesus’ teaching.”
Keith smiled. “Thanks, Stacy. That means a lot to me. If everyone was like the Howards, I’d be pretty discouraged.”
A serious expression replaced his smile. “You don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to. It’s obvious that you love Jesus and that you take your faith seriously, but do you ever have any doubts?”
“If we’re going to talk, do you mind if I get comfortable?” When Keith shook his head, Stacy kicked off her shoes, tucked her legs under her and leaned against the upholstered arm of the chair she sat in.
“I teach New Testament Greek at Kennesaw Christian University. Like I mentioned in my diatribe against Dr. Howard, I’ve had the privilege of studying some of the earliest manuscripts. I can’t come to any other conclusion than that they are absolutely genuine. In fact, we have more evidence for the authenticity of the entire biblical text than for any other ancient writing. The more I study the more convinced I am that the events the texts record are genuine, too. At this point, I have very few doubts at all about the historical accuracy of the New Testament.
“Having said that, I’ll confess that sometimes I do have doubts. Not about the events. It’s just that sometimes I’ve questioned whether Jesus really loves me. My husband died three years ago. I went through some really black times, questioning everything I thought I knew, asking “Why?” wondering what the purpose of life was. I got through that, thank God, but every once in a while the dark thoughts still trip me up when I’m least expecting it.”
“What was it that helped you through?”
“By focusing on what you emphasized tonight, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. If He didn’t love me, then why did He die? And if He really did die for me, how can I deny His love?
“Another thing which helped me is what’s implied in something you quoted tonight but didn’t explain. It’s that phrase, “until he comes.” When the dark thoughts come, I try to remember the promises Jesus made us, the hope we have because of Jesus’ resurrection. When I can remember that this life is not the end, that God has promised a new heaven and earth, things don’t seem nearly as dark.
“In a sense, this tour is a measure of how far I’ve come. For several years my husband, Jim, and I planned and saved so we could make this trip together. When he died, I couldn’t imagine doing it without him. I thought that I would somehow betray him if I came alone. I almost didn’t come. Then the thought struck me that it would be a betrayal if I didn’t come. You see, we both thought that this trip would affirm our belief and our love for Christ. So, not coming on the trip would be proof that I still doubted Christ’s love.
“Now, what about you? From your question it sounds like maybe you have some doubts?”
Keith broke off a piece of leftover bread and swallowed it before he answered. “Maybe burnout would be a better way to describe it than doubt. I’m a preacher in a church not too far from your university, as it happens. Like you, I’m totally convinced of the truth of the Bible and the events it records though I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. There are still a lot of intriguing questions and things there’s no way of knowing. But I’ve studied the Bible for a long time and everything I can check out, does. That gives me a lot of confidence that the things I can’t check are true, too. Frankly, I don’t see how anyone can take an honest look at the Scriptures and not be convinced of their accuracy and truth.
“I guess my problem is with the second part of the equation I talked about tonight. Oh, I don’t struggle like you do wondering whether Jesus loves me. I struggle with extending His love to other people. I was preaching to myself tonight. You encounter a lot of rejection in ministry. You work hard, give of yourself and try to meet people’s needs, only to have them turn on you because that’s easier to do than change. But rejection is almost easier to deal with than indifference. I’ve gotten to the place where I find myself pulling back from others because I don’t want to experience any more hurt. When I run into the complacent smugness of someone like Dr. Howard, it makes me question whether it’s worth it. What’s the point of proclaiming the Gospel when so few seem to care?
“I’m on Sabbatical. The church paid for me to come on this tour, hoping that the vacation and the chance to touch base with some of our roots in the early church will help me get on an even keel again.”
Both Keith and Stacy were a little aghast at themselves for baring their souls like this. But they also felt at ease with each other. They talked leisurely for several hours while nibbling at the remains of the supper. Sometime during their conversation they realized that they had become friends.
They ended the evening with prayer, then Stacy left for her own room. Keith went to sleep with a greater sense of peace than he had known for a long time.