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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)

TITLE: "Hanging Out" Like Jesus Did
By Jeanie Pinkston


Grayson headed for the door.

“Wait, Gray. Where’re you going?” I asked.

“Out,” he said, as only a rebellious teen can.

I wasn’t used to rebellion. Grayson had been our studious, sensitive son. He’d turned thirteen without losing his sense of humor or being embarrassed by being seen with his family. Now, as he approached fourteen, things were changing. He no longer wanted to carpool in the afternoon with his friends. For a couple of weeks, he’d been catching a ride home with an older teen named Micah. We didn’t even know Micah’s last name. Changes like this that made his father, Joe, and me nervous.

“Where—and who’re you going out with?” his father demanded.

“Just out, Dad. I’ll be with Micah.”

“It’s a school night. Homework finished?”

The door closed as he replied, “Yeah, all done.”

Joe and I looked at each other, concern written across our faces.

“What do we do, Joe?” I asked, putting down the dish I’d been rinsing.

“I’ll try to find out something about Micah and his family if Gray will tell us who he is,” Joe said. “He’s always been responsible. I want to trust his choice of friends but I’m worried. Whatever happened to the kids he ran around with from church?”

“Good question,” I said. “I want to trust him too, but I could ask some of their moms. Maybe we’ll find a clue to why Grayson’s seeking different friends.”

“I hate to pry, but that’s a good idea. Could you call Zachary’s mom? I saw Zach trying to talk to him Sunday but Grayson didn’t hang around. Zach looked hurt when Grayson walked away.”

I started the dishwasher then picked up the phone. Zach and Grayson had played soccer on the same team for several years. Maybe his mom could help. I punched in her number.

We made small talk, and I finally got to the point of my call. “Has anything happened between Grayson and Zach or any of his other friends? I noticed they’re not sitting together in church, and we’re worried about a new friend he has.”

There was a pause before Zach’s mom answered, “I’m glad you asked. Zach’s concerned about Grayson, too. This boy, Micah, who he’s hanging out with, has been in some trouble. That doesn’t mean Grayson will follow— but you just never know.”

My mind raced. “What kind of trouble?”

“Well, he’s been sent to in-school suspension for fighting, and Zach said he recently saw Micah toss a beer can into the trash can as he arrived at school.”

I thanked her and hung up. Joe and I discussed the situation. We knew that simply ordering Gray to end the friendship wouldn’t work. We prayed together, asking God to intervene and help show our son the right path.

It was forty minutes past his curfew, and Joe and I were pacing when Grayson closed the door behind him. He looked embarrassed that he’d been caught coming in late. His conscience still bothered him—a good sign.

“We need to talk,” Joe said.

Grayson sat on the edge of the sofa.

“Son, we know you’re growing up, and we won’t try to pick your friends, but we’re curious about what makes Micah’s friendship worth giving up all your old friends and changing your lifestyle,” Joe said.

“I know Micah’s different. He’s a little wild, I guess. But didn’t Jesus hang around with sinners?” Gray quietly protested.

“Jesus ‘hung out’ with his disciples, Grayson,” Joe said. “He ministered to sinners but he spent most of his time with his disciples. When he was with sinners, he was teaching them how to change their lifestyles, how to draw closer to God.”

“I know you’re right, Dad. To be truthful, I don’t like what I see Micah doing. I’d like to minister to him somehow, but I don’t want to be like him. I’ve missed my friends but thought I was doing what Jesus wanted me to do, you know.”

“It’s going to be hard to change him yourself, Grayson. Jesus will have to have a hand in that. Have you invited Micah to church?” Joe asked.

“Not yet, but I could—maybe tomorrow.”

“Why not tonight?” I suggested. “He’s got a cell phone, doesn’t he?”

A smile, one that I’d missed seeing, turned up just the corners of Grayson’s mouth. “Okay,” he said taking his cell phone out. “I think I could use Jesus’ help! Guess I’ll call my disciples, too.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 02/09/08
Some wise words here, and a well-written story.

The teen's character seemed to change his "approach" fairly suddenly, at least in my opinion. His rebellion in the beginning sorta didn't "go with" his attitude in the end. Could just be me, though.

I enjoyed this read. Keep writing!
Dee Yoder 02/10/08
Good characters and dialogue. I suspect the quick turn-around in behavior has to do with that old word count thing. I felt I was reading something a slightly older teen might try to do. At first I thought the MC was around 15 or 16. The MC himself was very believable otherwise. You made me think of how parents should deal with something like this! I'm torn between "getting in there and tearing up the defiler's nest" (as a preacher once described a teen's bad friend choices), and letting the good up-bringing, as displayed in your story, catch up with the teen.