A spiteful teenager is at bitter odds with his faith and a special promise he is leery of
John sat between his parents in the congregation of North Rock Baptist church. They were beaming as the pastor gave his sermon.
“Salvation is a promise from God. In the Word it says-‘If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.’ “
John slouched in his seat and folded his arms. He shook his head and rolled his eyes. Why does go on and on like this! John squirmed around until the message was ended. He jumped of his seat and threw up his hands. “Finally!”
His mother Trish looked at him and scolded him. “How can you speak so harshly? Don’t you have any respect for God?”
“The whole religion things is so wishy washy. It’s always one preacher dissing others for their opinions. Just last night when we were at Applebee’s, I heard Deacon Walt at the table behind us talk smack about Pastor Rich and some of the things he believes.”
“All followers of Christ have issues and quarks. No church is without error. We’re all sinners.”
John sighed and ran his palm back over his scalp. “So I’ve been told.”
Trish looked to her husband Matt for help. “Your mother is right. You’d better shape up son – for your sake.”
Matt’s words only made John angrier. But he pushed his feeling inside as not to begin an argument. “Okay dad.” He sneered under his breath and followed his parents outside.
After the drive home, Trish and Matt sat John down for a talk on the couch.
“Son, we’re worried about you,” said Matt. “You don’t believe in Jesus.”
“Does it matter? Eventually everyone goes off and does all the sin they can do. Christians are hypocrites!”
John’ parents were silent for a few moments before his dad spoke up. “We want you to go on a teenager’s retreat.”
John jumped up. “What!”
“It will be good for you. We just want you to see the light and come to accepts God’s promise of salvation.”
“You can’t make me…!”
“You’re going, period!” yelled Matt.
“Fine!” John cried as he ran to his room.
Two agonizing weeks later, after Matt had signed John up for the church retreat, he stepped onto the private bus with luggage and all things needed for the stay up in Mount Charleston. He put his belongings in the overhead compartment and sat next to another teenager.
“It’s exciting huh!” said the teenager.
John slowly turned his head toward the other boy. “You’re kidding right?”
“Don’t worry. You’ll have more fun than anything! By the way, I’m Nick.”
“John. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to rest on the way. I got up at like 5 A.M.”
“Whatever dude,” said Nick.
John was awakened when the bus stopped at the camp site. “Everyone out!” said I man in army camouflage and a wide billed brown hat.
When John stepped off, the man led all the campers to a lodge. “Make yourselves at home! I’ll be back in three hours.”
The first thing Nick did was get out his brown leather Bible and begin reading silently.
“You know what you’re reading is tainted right?” asked John. “Mere, feeble, flawed humans made it.”
“Perhaps, but it was inspired by God though.”
“Most religions say that.” John returned.
“So you don’t believe in God?”
“Unless someone gives me legitimate proof or sound philosophy, than yeah, I don’t.”
“Then ask Him for all those things,” Nick put forth. “
“Not going to happen.”
“It’s your call,” Nick said as he returned to his Bible.
John spent the next three hours lying on his lower bunk with his hands behind his bed.
Finally the man in the army gear came in. “Gather round everyone. It’s time for our first Bible session.”
About a dozen teenagers went to the far side of the cabin where there was a semi-circle of chairs. The man stood in front of them. “I’m camp counselor Craig. How many of you have encountered God?”
About eight campers raised their hands.
“Good. As for the rest of you, would you like to?”
The remaining teenagers including John looked at each other with no response or raising of hands.
“I see,” said Craig. He motioned for one of the teenagers who had raised their hands. “Would come to the front and tell us about your experience?”
A lanky tall guy with parted blond hair came to the front. “Actually it was with an angel.”
John chuckled in a hushed voice.
“I was walking down the street and this drunk driver was about to hit me. Then I saw a shining angel with wings appear in front of me and stop the car!”
The small crowd was in awe and gasps went around the room. John would have laughed but a strange twinkle in the kid’s look made John feel peculiar. It was like looking at the innocence of small child’s eyes. John was moved.
“Anyone else?” asked Craig.
A girl got out of her seat and stood in the front of the campers. “I was really ill one time with pneumonia. The doctor said I had months to live. Pastor Rich prayed for me and it was like nothing I’ve ever felt. In one hour I got well! The doctors were baffled.” The girl began to cry.
Again John was moved but more so this time. John felt something stir within him. He looked down at his hands – then at the girl.
“Does anyone want to receive God’s promise of salvation?”
John felt his hand go up. What was happening! Then he found himself get up and walk to Craig.
“I do,” said John.
Councilor Craig said a prayer just for John to hear to receive God’s promise. Like the girl with pneumonia, he felt surreal. It was like opening his eyes for the first time. A tear ran down his cheek. It truly was God’s promise.