Roger was miserable. He sat flicking the pages of his Bible back and forth without reading the words or noticing what he was doing. His mind was busy accusing and excusing himself for his decisions and actions following a recent game of football. He wished he hadn’t been conned into playing the game; wished he hadn’t joined the team. Even more, he regretted having been selected for this away game, and for joining the team in their after the game activities. But he was tired of being jeered at and called a goody-goody; and besides, what harm was there in taking a walk through the town, chatting up a few girls, maybe joining them when they stopped for a drink. He could have a Coke.
But they had spiked his Coke, and pushed him forward, encouraging him to handle the girls, go a bit further, have another Coke .....
Late into the night they carried him back to the motel and threw him onto his bed. In the morning two of the leaders took great pleasure in reminding him of the things he had said, the things he had done. The others avoided his eye, avoided his company. A good hot shower removed the grime of the night, but toothpaste was not enough to get the taste out of his mouth. He couldn’t face breakfast. His stomach was in revolt. He could remember very little beyond the second Coke. Had he really said and done the things they were accusing him of?
On the trip home he sat alone, his Bible on his lap, trying to formulate an explanation with which to excuse himself to his parents. But did they really have to know? Surely none of the other players would rat on him? But then, he wasn’t sure of that. Jack and Simon kept looking back at him, passing remarks and laughing. He tried to avoid watching them, but it was very difficult. He knew that he was the butt of their jokes, and now others were beginning to laugh with them.
There was a movement as Bob slid into the seat alongside him. Bob was a quiet one, a good solid player but not one of the brilliant ones who scored the goals and made the fantastic plays that brought fame to the team. The previous afternoon he had been carried from the field shortly before the final whistle with a broken ankle. Now he lifted his plaster-casted foot into a comfortable position before turning to Roger.
“Rog, don’t take too much notice of that lot.” He inclined his head in the direction of Jack and Simon and the group around them. “I have been listening to some of what was said and I want you to know that much of what they are saying about you is just not true. I understand that they spiked your Coke, not once but three times, and that after the third Coke you simply passed out. So they dumped you on a bench until they were ready to return to the motel, hoping you’d be able to walk when they went back for you, but you couldn’t and they had to carry you. You did and said a few things that you have reason to regret, but nothing like they are saying.”
“Really? Are you sure, Bob?” Roger was ready to grasp at any straw offered to him.
“Sure I’m sure. But all the same it’s going to take you a while to live this down. In the meantime you need to come to terms with yourself. You are a Christian, aren’t you?”
“Right. First things first. Do you realise that what you did was stupid and wrong?”
Roger winced but nodded again. Bob took the Bible from his hand, opening it.
“Good. Now read this: 1 John 1 verse 9.”
Roger’s voice trembled. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Bob approved. “Good. I want you to remember that verse: it is a key to staying in a good relationship with God. We’ll pray together now and in future we’ll stick together.”
He ignored Roger’s shake of the head.
“Yes, you will stay with the team. You’re a good player and you’ll live this down. And I will be with you to support you when you tell your parents. Confession, too, is a key to strengthening your resolve to stay straight.”
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