Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Adolescence/Teen Years (07/16/09)
TITLE: THE QUESTION
By Frank Parrino
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There was no escaping the question. Yes I was only 17. Granted, this teen did not live long enough to experience many of life’s ups, downs, and all a rounds. Yet, a legion of my own self serving thoughts, words, and deeds flashed in my mind’s eye. Pastor Martin paused. He put his hands on the corners of the pulpit. He took a deep breath, leaned forward. His navy blue suite jacket was off, red tie loosened. The sleeves of his white shirt rolled up to the elbows. If anyone consistently preached with fervor, it certainly was Pastor Martin. I could see the older man’s face moist with perspiration. He seemed to be catching his breath but it was more than that. The preacher was letting the pointed question he thundered out, a chance to sink into everyone’s mind. Three hundred people sat all around me yet I felt I was the only one present. It was Wilson Barrett and the preacher one on one. Eyeball to eyeball. The latter’s earnest expression was etched with a heart felt concern. I felt uncomfortable.
What do I do? Do I turn away? Look down? I want out of here. I want to block my thoughts. I tried to comfort myself. Five, maybe ten more minutes at most. I’ll be on my way and free to do my thing. Why do I come each Sunday to hear this fool, this madman? I couldn’t explain it. Yet each Sunday I forced myself to go. I don’t want to be there.
Why am I wasting my time with this Christian spin? What makes them insist that they only speak the only truth? My mentors say this Jesus is just one of the many good guys offering a pass to heaven. His way and a very narrow one at that, is one of many roads to this so called “promised land." For me it is all an illusion. There is no exit, no “worm hole” to the eternal. It is unknowable and impenetrable because it doesn’t exist. The here and now is all that matters. After all is not truth relative? Truth is whatever you want it to be. If it feels right, then go for it. May as well grab all the gusto out of life you can. The Bible and all that supernatural stuff. It's all myth, fable, and legend. Why am I attracted to it?
No! No! Perish the thought of giving Christianity a fair hearing. That’s better. Focus. Who is going to win the baseball game this afternoon? I should finish that book on Nietzsche. Maybe I’ll get the gang together, get some beers, and we’ll head to Oakwood Beach. The cops never patrol around there. I’ll get Jackie to bring some joints she secured with her “charm” during spring break. Hey, a kilo of “gold” goes a long way amongst friends. Talk about a real rocky mountain high!
Sure we want free love but not the personal responsibility that goes with it. Sure we want an environment free from toxins but it’s ok to use toxins on ourselves. Sure we want a world free from war and killing except for the unborn. Hey, we have freedom of choice!
Bam! The wall of my mind shook from aftershocks of the question. “Are YOU in a state of nature or a state of grace?” “But I…” "No my friend. You are either in Christ or not. There is no neutral ground. Do YOU have the wedding garment of the perfect righteousness of Christ? You have none of your own. He is the Door. The door rests on two hinges: repentance and faith. Go to Him just as you are in all your sin and guilt…”
I never watched the game or finished the book. I didn’t play any Rolling Stones or Beatle albums. The smooth tasting Bud Lights and numbing high of Acapulco Gold repulsed. I shut the door to my room, got down on my knees. I buried my face in my hands. “Father, be merciful to me the sinner.” The running away from reality was over. The teen age years of confusion ended. By God’s grace, I was able to answer the question. Jesus Christ is the answer.
“…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away; behold the new has come… (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV).
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