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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write something in the YOUNG ADULT or TEEN genre (06/07/07)

TITLE: Running on Empty
By Billie Jean Millen
06/12/07


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“I’ll get help, Tim!” I yelled as my friend, seized by an undertow, was swept further from shore.

A young couple strolled on the beach, oblivious to what was happening.

“Help! My friend is drowning!” I screamed.

Startled, they glanced toward the water and then the man sped off to get help.

Tim was becoming smaller as he was forced further out by the current. The sight sickened me. He was frantically waving his arms, begging me to rescue him. But I couldn’t even swim. Now Tim was going to die. How could we have been so stupid?

Why did we think it was a good idea to drink almost all night and then jump in the ocean? We were neither sober nor aware of the dangers. We were young, just teenagers. Nothing could hurt us, so we thought. My head throbbed and my heart sank. Tim had no chance. I fell to my knees sobbing, watching Tim slip further away. If only we hadn’t been so stupid.

Suddenly the beach was full of rescue workers from a nearby station.

The supervisor of the crew hurried over to the three of us while the others began their race against time to save Tim.

“Who is the young man out there?” The supervisor demanded.

“I don’t know. He’s with him.” The man who had run to get help nodded toward me.

The supervisor leaned toward me, glaring suspiciously. “You been drinking?”

“Yes sir.” I hung my head.

“And your friend?”

“Yes sir.”

“Great.” He said sarcastically, turning away as a squad member summoned him. I don’t know what was said. I just wanted them to save Tim.

The lady walking with the man came over to me. “Let’s pray for your friend.” She said gently.

I just looked at her, devastated. “Will prayer really help?” I doubted that; it seemed so bogus. “When it comes to religious stuff, I’m running on empty. I just don’t believe in it.” I whispered, gazing helplessly out to sea, where Tim’s life and death drama played out before my eyes. “I don’t know anything about prayer or God.”

“I do.” She said, kneeling beside me, taking my hand.

“Father God,” she began, “I know you care about these boys. You’ve known them since before they were born. You know the plans You have for them. Plans to give them hope and a future. Lord, I ask you to intervene here and now.”

She paused for a moment. “Your friend’s name?”

“Tim”

“And yours?”

“Joey.”

“Lord, guide the rescue squad, help Tim be saved, then help both Tim and Joey know You, Jesus. You are the God of Second Chances, the great Redeemer, and Jesus; these young men need to know they don’t have to run on empty, living a life that searches for what only You can give. Reveal to them that You are the answer to the God-shaped hole in their hearts. In Jesus’ Name, save Tim from the sea, today, and Lord, help both Tim and Joey know You, so they can be saved eternally.”

I didn’t know her or her God of Second Chances, but if He was really there and could save Tim, I wanted to know Him. I hugged her and cried like I’d never cried before. She prayed quietly for a long time, putting her arms around me and comforting me. She didn’t even know us but she cared.

The rescue squad reached Tim. He was in bad shape when they brought him to shore and it was touch and go for awhile, but finally he made it. I knew then that I had to meet the God of Second Chances.

Not long after that, Tim and I accepted Christ. With His help we turned away from the drugs and the alcohol and the shallowness that once controlled us.

Tim and I are still close and I often think of that kind lady on the beach, who cared. I forgot to ask her name. I was so busy worrying about Tim that day, I just forgot. But someday, I’m going to meet her again in heaven and then I can thank her in person for everything she did.


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This article has been read 486 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Ruth Scott06/14/07
Amazing. Sounds like a true story. This one gave me the goose bumps too. God is awesome! Very good story!
Joanne Sher 06/16/07
A modern-time Jonah for teens, I think. Very compelling. This DID read as true. Wonder if it is? Great dialogue.
Jacquelyn Horne06/18/07
Wonderful, heartfelt story. A winner, I think?
Kristen Hester06/19/07
This is a great story. It kept my attention. Nice job.
Lucile McKenzie06/19/07
This held my attention from beginning to end. It follows a logical path. Like the other readers, I'm wondering if it's true, or at least, based on a true story. In any case, it's excellent.
Dee Yoder 06/19/07
Good story! Very interesting and compelling to read. Your descriptions are so vivid, I almost felt like I was watching a movie.
Benjamin Graber06/20/07
Great story. Thank God that He is a God of second chances - if He wasn't, we'd all be goners!