I could feel the anger beginning its cancerous invasion of my thoughts. How much more would I be able to endure? The three bullies that surrounded me were actually laughing, confident that they had me in a defenseless position.
“What’s wrong, Four-eyes?”
“Yeah, what’s wrong? You gonna cry?”
If only they could know how stupid they sounded. Still, trying to fight them wouldn’t put me on any intelligence lists either, so I didn’t respond.
“Hey, Four-eyes,” One of the bullies seemed determined to continue showing his ignorance. “You know what gonna happen now?” I knew, but it was clear that they didn’t. “We’re gonna take your pants home with us.”
“You gonna look like the freak you are walkin’ home.” Finally the third bully had spoken. It was comforting to know that I was in the midst of three morons.
Then the shoving began. I was tossed from one bully to the other like a helpless game piece. The sad part is that they were enjoying the game. My anger was getting to a point that was starting to concern me.
“Back off, guys.” Perhaps I said it too softly. All three bullies laughed at my gentle request. Calm down, I reminded myself. Don’t let them get the best of you.
Because it is the way I was taught, and because it is the way I believe, I looked toward heaven and prayed. “Lord,” I said, “Be with me. Don’t allow my anger to interfere, but let Your will be done.”
“Oh, ain’t that cute.” One of the bullies punched another in the arm, which started a three stooges round of punching, pushing and slapping that only confirmed what I had already concluded about them. “He’s prayin’. Is God gonna smack us for ya, Four-eyes?”
I quietly slipped my glasses off and put them in my pocket. “Now I’m not Four-eyes.” I rammed my shoulders back, military style, hoping to convey confidence. “And, yes. God is going to help me.”
The taller bully took a toothpick out of his mouth and tossed it to the ground. “Let’s get ‘im, boys.”
What happened next is truly a blur in my memory. The only clear recollection I have is reaching down to help three bewildered bullies get back on their feet. The shocked look on their faces showed clearly the question they were asking.
“Yes,” I re-affirmed. “God did help me.”
Twenty years passed quickly and that experience had been long suppressed in my memory. I had been asked to preach a revival in my hometown and I accepted with unbridled eagerness.
The day I arrived the pastor of the church greeted me warmly. His office was typical of most ministers I had met. Religious books lined shelves. A framed picture on the wall was the only thing that seemed out of place. It was a picture of what appeared to be a street brawl. Odd picture for a pastor’s office, I thought.
I shook the pastor’s hand and commented on his nice office. Then I pointed to the brawl scene on the wall. “Interesting picture. I’ve never seen one like that in a pastor’s office.”
The pastor smiled. “It reminds me of the day I accepted the Lord as my Savior.”
“You must have had a really violent experience if that picture reminds you of salvation.”
“Actually,” he said, “You have been invited to this church because of that picture.”
This revelation took me by surprise. “I don’t understand…”
“We’ve met before.” The pastor touched the picture fondly. “Three bullies and a patient Christian.”
For the first time in years my mind went back to that day.
The pastor took my hand. “I saw God for the first time that day. Since then, He has been a constant help for me in times of need. I never had the chance to thank you… or even ask your forgiveness.”
Tears were already streaming down his face but now my own cheek was beginning to feel damp. I thought of the three bullies and their ‘stupidity’. The anger I had felt that day brought shame to me on this day. It had been my intention from the beginning to teach those three bullies a lesson they would never forget.
My thoughts back then had only been to hurt them. Salvation was the farthest thing from my angry mind. That was not what I had intended.
I was so thankful, though, that it was what God intended.
Oh, goosebumps. OUTstanding piece. Just think of all the publications like HIghlights and others that may be able to use it now! After the all-clear, I'd love to share even further why this story touched me on a personal level. Well done.
Very good story! I love the description of "anger beginning its cancerous invasion of my thoughts". What a perfect mind picture.
For red ink, just a few minor punctuation fixes, like a question mark instead of a period after a bully's question, is all I see.
Good story-telling - especially the fight scene. I love his realization at the end that God answered his prayer on that day, that His will be done. Super job!
This is just a wonderful story. I loved it, beginning to end. You captured how when man (or bullies) mean it for bad, God can turn it into good--the perfect silver lining. Too bad it didn't go through. I'm guessing it would have placed!