“You Christians make me sick!”
The sudden unprovoked accusation nearly caused me to drop my tuna sandwich before I realized the piercing remark was addressed to an older couple who were enjoying the beautiful spring day on another park bench a few feet away. The woman clasped a small New Testament close to her heart, almost like a shield from the intruder’s verbal assault. Her husband held up one hand in a gesture of peace, and to make a comment.
“Excuse me, Sir. To what are you referring? Do we know you?”
The excited newcomer declined to answer as he shot another round of poisonous verbiage at the wide-eyed twosome.
“You refuse to honor the ancient wisdom of my forefathers who left a legacy that has stood the test of time. You preach that we do not have the truth!”
I was fully engaged in the unfolding drama by then and even had my phone poised to dial for help. The recipients of his rant stood up as if to move on but then seemed to be inviting the stranger to calm down and chat.
The husband evinced a gentle demeanor but took control of the situation as the three of them headed over to a round cement picnic table that was near to the lake’s edge. Ducks came running, expecting a treat. When none appeared, they waddled away.
The conversation was out of my earshot by then, and since nosy curiosity got the best of me, I decided to get closer. I strolled over to the white-feathered squadron to share my leftovers. I noticed they were prone to gobble, without inspection, whatever was proffered…much like humans sometimes.
The sound of quacking almost drowned out the angry man and his frightening hostility. The content of his garbled doctrine made about as much sense as the noise made by that bunch of persistent dumb ducks. When he ran out of steam, his harassed target responded with a deep, strong voice laced with authority.
“If you will listen, my friend, I should like to answer all your arguments and misinformed suppositions.”
The man deigned to sit down on the grass but everything in his body language screamed for a showdown—a fight—a surrender to his viewpoint. Before his opposition could say a word, he added one more jab.
“…and don’t think I don’t know who you are. You’re a famous person who preaches lies to infidels. Thousands of people flock to hear your blasphemy.”
“Well,” soothed the preacher, “I don’t know how famous I am, but we travel wherever God sends us to spread the Gospel Truth. Would you like to know what that message is?”
The seething man leaped to his feet and slammed his hat on the ground, probably to emphasize his complete disgust. He dared to scream louder.
“Don’t you tell me there’s only one way to God and it’s through His supposed son-- that Jesus fellow that you crazy people declare can forgive sinners and somehow make you born again.”
The distinguished evangelist gazed at the disturbed man and listened with an unflinching face. By then the ducks had moved on to beg from others and I felt conspicuous just standing there so I walked back to my original bench to observe from afar what I hoped was the closing act. It was like having the television on mute.
I cried as the husband and wife turned pages of her little Bible and tried to convince the antagonistic unbeliever. He relaxed and bowed his head as the two Christians appeared to pray. Could it be? The lovely lady touched his arm and offered him her own New Testament. He reached out and grabbed it in a strange, greedy kind of way. I felt a shiver.
The ministering duo left him bent over the Book of all books as they walked back toward Main Street. Something seemed amiss. I wondered about his quick about-face. That’s when it happened--the most unthinkable evil I’d ever witnessed.
He looked both ways, walked to the waters edge, opened that precious volume of pure Truth… and spat on it. Then, before stomping off the opposite way from his unappreciated mentors, he took a step back and hurled it into the lake.
I shook my head, stunned at the bitter taste of reality I had just witnessed. All at once the unmistakable smell of an approaching storm hit me. I jumped up and ran in the direction of Main Street…to a safer place.
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