Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Adolescence/Teen Years (07/16/09)
TITLE: Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Purer
By Joni Andrews
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Steve Hamilton – Traveling Youth Evangelist – got up to speak.
Banging his fist on the podium he shouted, “Wake-up, people! Unwanted pregnancy. Disease. Shallow relationships. Heartbreak. You name it. Purity is non-optional, folks. If you play with fire, you will pay.”
Melody took deep breaths.
"And more importantly," he continued, “You are thumbing your nose at God and telling Him you know better than He does.“
Arguments immediately flooded Melody's mind.
It's between me and Tom. It's nobody's business anyway.
Tom and I plan to get married after high school. I'm sure of it. Only 2 more years to go. We love each other. We have something special. And, hey. We're both Christians! Besides...we haven't done “it”...haven't gone all the way. We've really done nothing wrong.
Melody knew that more and more they were crossing “the line” when they were alone...but it was easy to justify. She and Tom loved each other and it was an expression of love. Love is beautiful, right? It felt so good. So natural. It felt private and yes, pure. Something she shared only with Tom.
Melody loved lying in Tom's arms. She would often fantasize about being married...even calling him “honey” and “sweetie” when they were alone. It sounded so grown up.
Tom didn't know this but Melody had started a special shelf in her closet at home. A makeshift “hope chest” where she had put a few household items. An apple shaped ceramic bowl with 4 smaller bowls for special salads and desserts. She bought the set on their six month anniversary last week. Also--two peach colored silk pillow cases found at the neighbor's yard sale; a table cloth taken from mother's cupboard; teacups passed on to her when her grandmother had died and a braided rug she had made herself. It was fun and exciting.
Tom will make me a real hope chest out of cedar after we are engaged. He's a good carpenter. Well, at least that's what he plans to be. I think.
The speaker's voice broke through her revelry..."You think me and my peers didn't struggle with this? You think hormones skip a generation? You think Timothy in the Bible was just spouting religion when he said, 'Flee youthful lusts!' God has made a way out. Grow up and quit putting yourself in the way of temptation. Stand alone for God. Don't sit at home in the dark together...no one else at home. How many brains do you need to figure that out? Flee youthful lusts! Take charge. You want to walk with God? Purity is non-optional.”
Melody felt Tom shifting in the chair beside her. He was bouncing his knee restlessly. She wondered if he was thinking about the time he faked the flu so he could stay home and invite her over, while his family went to visit relatives. Or last week, she had invited him to the Baker's house when she was babysitting. The Baker's came home early, too, and Tom had to run out the back door. The Baker's had found Tom's jacket and phoned Melody's parents the next day. And now her parents had sent them to this conference.
This was all making Melody very uncomfortable.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, folks. When you have had enough of the ways of the world and are ready and willing to offer yourself, your whole self to God...”
Tom stood up abruptly. “I can't listen to this, anymore.”
Melody closed her eyes. Oh, no! He's walking out.
Tom wasn't walking out. He was walking down to the front of the stage. Melody looked up and could tell he was crying. He had his head bent and he kept wiping his face on his sleeve. She was shocked. Tom Jarvis? Tough guy, football jock? Other people seeing him were encouraged to go up for prayer. Young people from all over the auditorium were making their way down the aisle. Weeping and praying could be heard from every corner.
Hot shame filled Melody and a sob caught in her throat. It's too late for me.
“It's never too late.” The preacher's booming voice startled her. “Come one. Come all. Forgiveness is yours. A new day begins.”
Then he began to sing.“Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling...”
“Here I am, Lord,” Melody said as she stood up. “Here I am.”
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