Sometimes God puts us in the path of ugliness to see if our perseverance is founded in faith and love (see James 1:2-7).
It was one of those summer days that reminds people why it is the best season in Northwest Indiana. There was a cool breeze pushing away noon heat, and everyone seemed to be out and about, enjoying this opportunity to be “seen” around town.
I pulled my vehicle up to the gas pump, noticing a couple of teenage boys skateboarding by the entrance to the gas station’s mini-store. I watched them while I filled up my gas tank. They reminded me of myself at their age, not a care in the world, only the pavement and a board with wheels – life made simple.
Flatland tricks for skateboarders aren’t necessarily all that flashy to the outsider, but they can be extremely difficult for the performer, especially when seeking praise from peers. These teens were attempting just about every flatland trick in the book, forcing gas seeking customers to navigate around them as they entered the establishment.
Just before I finished filling up my gas tank, I noticed the teens enter the mini-store carrying their boards. “Probably getting some cold drinks,” I thought. But as I went into the store to pay for my gas, I discovered that a pack of cigarettes was what the teens were after. The clerk, immediately realizing that these two did not meet the minimum age requirement to purchase smokes, refused their request. I will not repeat the vile and disgusting things one of the young men said to the clerk after she refused to sell him cigarettes.
Now there are a few times in your life when you look back on an event and wonder just exactly how good managed to prevail over evil. To this day, I still can’t believe the way God provided me with words of wisdom, a calm demeanor, and the courage to trust that things wouldn’t spiral out of control as I intervened on behalf of the cashier.
I confronted the teenager who had launched the verbal attack on the cashier. “I think it would be best if you apologized for what you just said to that young lady,” I demanded, standing in the doorway in front of the kid. He had that look in his eyes; the look that teens get when they wonder if the adult standing his ground realizes it is illegal to battery a minor, that look that teens get when they think they are invincible and that only their parents might possibly be able to tell them what to do, that look of mischief at a roadblock.
We were at an impasse. The clerk stood watching us. The teen’s accomplice stood watching us. It wasn’t quite like a Clint Eastwood western, but it was close. But then I felt God prodding me a bit, and I offered up a bit more in the way of dialogue. “How would you feel if someone talked to your sister that way?” I asked, conviction evident in every syllable.
The teenager’s face relented, his stance weakened. “Tell her you’re sorry for what you said,” I demanded. And he did. He apologized to the clerk, sounding as sincere as anyone could. “Thanks,” I said.
“Thank you,” said the clerk to both me and the teenager.
I saw no snicker of deceit as the two teens left the store, and I did not hear a tirade of profanity once the teens were at a safe distance. This was an intervention that delivered a good over evil result. It is just this type of intervention that God wants us to be involved with. We are called to be His hands and feet where good can be manifest and evil dismantled.
If you feel the Holy Spirit leading you to take a stance, and if that calling does not conflict with God’s Holy Word, what would stop you from intervening when evil could be overcome by good?
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