Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Breaking the Rules (08/16/04)
TITLE: The Single Moment of Truth
By John Hunt
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Bordered by a small creek, and lined by an assortment of trees and wild bush, the practice field was slightly larger than a regular football field. In the heart of a cold Indiana winter, the field was covered in a blanket of freshly driven snow, making it appear much larger than it really was. The field had been the site of an epic battle that particular day. Bundled in our warm winter jackets, caps, and gloves, we had furiously fought each other with volleys of hastily compacted snow…an enormous snowball fight. My best friend, Paul, was right beside me, along with our ragtag assembly of young boys. Back and forth the battle raged; sometimes we were winning, sometimes we were getting our tails kicked. Just when victory appeared certain for our team, when the opposition was nearly pummeled into submission, Paul began firing shots at his own teammates! Without missing a beat, everyone directed their assault toward him. The field erupted into mayhem, as the ensuing disintegration of battle sent us all to the ground, rolling in laughter.
There was a different kind of battle the following day. There were only a few of us present, and the situation was much less auspicious. We were standing beside the frozen creek while isolated specks of snow spit down from the sky. It seemed colder than ever, although that’s probably just how I remember it. Paul reached into his coat pocket and nonchalantly pulled out a reefer, as if it was a perfectly natural thing to do. As he and another boy lit the marijuana cigarette, I looked away. Here was my best friend, doing something that I knew was completely wrong…and not just wrong, but an absolute taboo. Paul offered me a toke.
I can’t remember the first time my father ever scolded me. Nor can I recall a single day where my challenges to the boundaries that my parents imposed did not go unanswered. I sometimes received swift retribution for my disobedience, while other times my discipline was much more purposeful. Once, when entrusted to put money in the offering plate at church, I tried to keep some of it, concealing it in my hand. My hide was sore for several days. On another occasion, I stole a paring knife from the kitchen drawer to whittle wood shavings. I was grounded for longer than I can remember. Then another day, an uttered curse word resulted in the first of many mouthfuls of soap in my lifetime. At church, I learned that there are rules that the Lord put in place to govern our lives. Disobey these rules, and there most certainly would be consequences. I learned this quickly in my youth. Believe me, my parents were often the exacters of God’s judgment.
I was called to the front desk of the school after lunch hour had ended. Entering the foreboding wooden double doors, I saw Paul and the other boy sitting in the waiting area outside of the principal’s office with their heads hanging low, averting direct eye contact with anyone. As I too sat down in one of the uncomfortable hard chairs, I wondered just why we were there, although I had a pretty good idea. Stealing a glance at Paul, who then looked back at me, I held my hands out as if to say, “What gives?” Paul reciprocated with the universal sign for taking a toke, followed by a swipe of his hand across his throat, signifying his impending fate. Soon, he met with the principal and I was subsequently sent back to class.
Someone had reported the three of us to the principal’s office that day for using drugs. Fortunately for me, I didn’t partake in the marijuana cigarette. I had been told by my parents that it was wrong and, more importantly, that I would face grave consequences if I ever got caught doing it. The culmination of a lifetime of discipline had come down to that single moment of truth, and thankfully, I made the right choice. I was exonerated. Thank you Mom and Dad.
“He that spareth the rod, hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him.”