What am I doing here?!! I knew I shouldn’t have come. Who am I trying to fool? I don’t belong in a place like this! I’m not like these people. Why, they’re just a bunch of hypocrites! Look at them hugging, shaking hands, laughing and talking like they’ve just won the lottery. Maybe I can find a way to duck outta here without being noticed…….
I had recently returned from Iraq after serving a stint in the Marines. It definitely made a man out of me.
Pops would be proud of that…..if he was alive to see it. My old man was all I had left when I joined up.
Now I’m alone in the world. Pops said the Marines was the best way to grow-up and get a good education to boot. We never had money for college. When I got out I decided to settle in the city and found a job with a buddy that had been discharged a few months earlier.
Why not? I didn’t have any family or ties waiting for me back home.
Jerry was ok but I always thought he was a little weird. He carried a small Bible everywhere, said it was his “insurance policy” during the war. Jerry tried talking to me about Jesus but I didn’t want any part of it.
“I can handle life on my own, thank you” I’d told him.
I always felt uncomfortable when he talked about religion but didn’t understand why. He finally got the message and laid off, for a while. Then a couple days ago he asked me to come to church with him. I said no at first but he kept on until I gave in.
Why’d you do that, you stupid moron? It’s Sunday night. You could be in a bar somewhere guzzling beer and watching the game on big screen! Now you’ve got some blue-haired lady who smells like dime-store cologne hugging you.
Everybody returned to their places with plastic smiles still plastered on their faces.
Then a guy comes on stage and starts singing. He’s not half bad but the song is kinda corny….
“How great…..is our God! Sing with me, How great…..is our God…..and all….will see….how great….. how great..…..is our God……!”
I look around and everybody’s hands are raised, with eyes closed, and they’re swaying to the music.
Man, what is this?!! These people act like they’re on drugs. They must be brainwashed. I will have to keep up my guard, they’re not gonna brainwash me!
Pops never took me to church so I didn’t have a clue what went on, but this was too weird for me.
Another Cat came on the scene. He started talking about the blood of Jesus cleansing sins.
What the ____? I saw plenty of blood in Iraq and it sure wasn’t cleansing anybody.
He was really getting worked up about it, though. He seemed to be crying but then started hollering Hallelujah! and Praise God!….in the midst of his tears. I didn’t know what to make of it but was I determined to be detached.
Hey, I’m a Marine. A tough guy. I’ll just watch the show, then be gone. This must be the guy brainwashing everybody.
He has a spirit of authority but not in an arrogant way. Unconsciously, I’m listening to his story about Jesus dying on the cross for my sins. It’s way too incredible but instinctively, I know it’s true. I find myself being directly involved in this story, somehow. My heart comes alive.
“This is for you.” it cries out.
Then the man looked straight at me as he quietly spoke:
“Jesus said I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly. Will you choose life? Won‘t you come? Come to Jesus”
The people start singing again, softly. Something’s happening to me. I try to fight it, but can‘t. I have never felt more ashamed or ‘humbled.' A dam is breaking, my Adam’s apple grows huge and I’m being invisibly pulled towards the front of the church.
“Come unto Me”
I’m on my knees at the alter. The Preacher’s leading me in prayer. Before we get to ‘Amen‘, I’m openly weeping but I’ve never been more full of joy. He looks me in the eyes.
“Son, welcome to the family of God. You’ve just received the greatest gift; Salvation.”
I smile through tears.
Man, I guess this means I’m brainwashed, too! Maybe so, but I’ve never felt such freedom.
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