“I’ll give you five bucks to go up the hill behind campus…in the buff!”
We were a huddle of Bible college guys gathered inside our dorm one sharp, bitter cold night in one of our Northern states. We’d been goofing around, talking about how poor we all were. Discussion turned to, “what we would do for a buck.” Deep belly laughs were heard as different guys gave their answers. Finally, one of my buddies turned to me and offered the challenge about a run up the hill. With sharp determination, being the “get-er-done” kind of guy that I am, I accepted the offer.
The rules were sharply laid down: run to the top of the hill behind our campus dorm and back without shoes and in the buff.
“Not so bad,” I thought to myself. “ It was dark outside with nobody around. I was a farm boy with plenty of experience taking late night skinny-dipping excursions in the pond. Sure, it was 15 degrees below zero, but the cold had never bothered me. I had this one covered.”
I opened the door looking right and left to make sure, “all was clear.” I put one foot out the door and then the other. Sharply turning my head from side to side to keep an eye out for potential onlookers, I ran across the concrete porch, asphalt sidewalk and skedaddled up the hill with the sharp incline.
I was elated when I got to the top without any spectators. Turning around to start my descent; I heard a commotion coming from the bottom of the hill. Standing right outside my dorm door, where only moments previously I had departed, stood the guys chatting without a care in the world with a bunch of girls they had gathered from campus. The girls were oblivious to my dilemma.
“I’ve been had,” were the muttered words that escaped my mouth.
Looking around for some protection from female eyes, I saw a small tree nearby. I made haste to get there. With thoughts running wild I realized the tree didn’t provide cover for my six foot, one inch frame. Looking around for another option, I become aware of lights shining from the parking lot of a nearby church building. The smooth, icy coating on the snow all around me coupled with the lights reflecting off the snow, gave a sharper than desired picture of my predicament.
I watched the scene below with all my physical senses sharpened by the temperature and the embarrassing situation.
Time was passing, while I waited for the social gathering below to end. My feet began to burn with the intensity of the cold night air and the remnants of the snow I had run through. Stiffness short of hypothermia permeated my entire body.
Finally the girls left and returned to their dorm. The guys continued to hang out on the porch.
I saw a window of opportunity to make a mad dash down the hill.
I turned my head right and left to make sure it was all clear of girls as I began my downward movement. My eyes settled in and focused on the back door of the dorm.
Down I ran. Faster and faster I ran.
The dull condition of my physical senses and my urgency in trying to reach my safe place made me very stiff. Right before the asphalt sidewalk… I fell; I slid across the bare walkway and into the base of the porch.
With quick movement, I jumped up and made my retreat into the dorm. As I surveyed the damage, I saw my injuries were many; loss of skin all the way from the tops of my toes, to my shins, across my knees, groin and belly.
“Not too sharp,” I thought, as my wounded pride gave way to the reality of the event.
Thirty-five years later.
I looked up as the short-term mission team from the U.S. arrived via plane to serve in Mexico with us. A young girl of about 18 years stepped forward as they gathered in the luggage area. “I know you,” she said.
“You do?” I questioned.
“Yes, you are the guy my dad challenged to run up the hill behind the college in the middle of winter in the buff.”
“The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9(NIV).
There’s beauty in being, “found out.” It provides us opportunity for change of direction in our lives.
Proverbs 10:9 (NIV)
Based on a true story
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