My mother decided we needed what she referred to as religion in our lives after we lost Dad. She insisted I go with her to church. I tried to explain, in a rational way, that she and I had different opinions about life, and I had a right to mine, and going to such a stifling place insulted my well thought-out world view. She wasn’t buying it.
I dodged as many services as possible, but just when excuses began to stretch even my imagination, she said she would pay me if I would go to youth group every Sunday nigh--and then report to her what I had learned. Since she looked so serious, I tried not to laugh. My friends thought I was pitifully un-cool, but to me, easy money speaks loud and clear.
“Frankie boy,” she pleaded, “With your father gone now, it’s important for you to learn about values and character.”
She seemed to flounder in this obviously futile pursuit to shape me into a good man.
The parts I hated the most were the peer pressure lectures. I was totally confident my friends and I could make our own decisions. After all, we are more technologically advanced than her dinosaur generation.
In the world of reality, a place where I live and she doesn’t, I plan to flee this smothering trap when I turn eighteen; but, for the sake of an increased income, I smiled and agreed to the deal. I mean, how bad could it be? There’d be some eating and goofing around and then music and a boring lesson on something in the Bible, and then we would leave and I’d collect my pay.
Macho Marco, Dan the Man, and Twist (whose real name is Oliver) were willing to accompany me. They made no pretense about being there to check out the chicks and over-indulge in free pizza. Twist said he knew how to sleep with his eyes open and if we sat way in the back he might even close them. I told him I didn’t care as long as he didn’t snore. Tiffany Jo, prom queen extraordinaire, might think I was a dork too.
That first night we sauntered in oozing what we thought was nonchalance to the max. I was surprised at how many were there. Didn’t they have anything better to do?
Steve Edwards, the quarterback from our school’s football team, welcomed us like we were card-carrying members of the “in” crowd. He told us that his father taught the group and tonight we would be very surprised.
“Uh oh,” I whined to Twist, “I don’t know what kind of holy rolling junk I’ve gotten us into. Maybe you’d better teach me that sleeping trick.”
That’s when I saw the monkey; yes, a real monkey wearing little trousers and a shirt and sitting quietly on a table next to something with a towel over it. Hmm…Maybe we’d get closer to the front. No telling what a wild animal might do we could laugh about later.
Marco the Man is the intelligent one in my posse. He wrote on the back of an old bulletin, What do you bet this lecture will be on evolution being wrong and creationism being right? That wanna-be ape will be his proof. Dude, let’s go.
I wrote back, Not me, Man. I need the money!
Mr. Edwards raised his hand and the loud talking stopped. Wow. That was impressive. Then he held up a large banana with one word written on its yellow skin in black marker: SIN.
He removed the towel and placed the fruit in the see-through box with a small opening on one side. The whole place seemed to hold its collective breath. Without saying a word, he stepped aside and the curious monkey began to make excited, happy sounding noises at his great fortune.
With no thought to consequences, he plunged his little hand through the hole and grabbed the banana. When he tried to pull his treasure back through it was too big to fit. He wouldn’t open his clutched fist in trade for his freedom.
The primate’s chattering frustration was pretty funny…for a while. The stubborn, struggling monkey couldn’t figure how to get his tiny hand out. Mr. Edwards, still silent, wrote on a large chalk board.
If you grasp the sneaky sweetness of SIN and refuse to let it go, you’ll be hopelessly trapped.
For the record, I refused Mom’s motivation payment; didn’t need it.
Proverbs 15:27 (NKJV)
He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live.
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