Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)
TITLE: Faith of a Child
By Brian Russell
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Len squatted down in front of Cole. “You excited to be staying with Uncle Len?”
“Kinda? Well that’s reassuring.” Len smiled.
Cole looked up, grinning.
“That’s more like it,” Len said. “You hungry?”
He nodded, eyes lit up.
“You want me to make some hamburgers?”
“I love hamburgers!”
Not much later, Len and Cole sat on the porch, grill still smoking, and hamburgers ready. The sun shined down and a cool breeze surrounded them.
A perfect Saturday afternoon, Len thought. “Well, what do you want to do? Go to the park? Watch movies all day? Stay up late playing video games?”
“We can’t stay up late,” Cole said.
Len cocked an eyebrow. “Why not? It’s Saturday night.”
“We’ve got church in the morning.”
“Oh, right…” Len scratched his head. “About that…”
“We can go to my church if you don’t have one.”
“Listen, kid, I don’t really… Well, I don’t really believe in that stuff.”
Cole looked at him and smiled. “That’s okay. There’s plenty of people at church pretending. You can still come.”
Len laughed. The boy certainly had his brother’s wit. “Fine. We can go.”
The next morning, Len and Cole sat in the second pew in the Sanctuary. Len glanced all around, feeling self-conscious. He and his brother had grown up in this church. He still saw a few dents in the wall from their rough-housing. He never understood how his brother went on to become a youth pastor, or whatever it was he did.
Cole leaned over to him. “You don’t have to be nervous.”
“I’m not nervous, I just… Okay so I’m a little nervous.”
“I haven’t been here in a long time.”
“Because…” but Len paused. He hadn’t thought about his faith in a long time. He remembered fighting with his brother about coming, but Len had been more concerned with dating girls and going to the beach than youth group and church service.
Cole stared at Len. “Why don’t you believe in Jesus?”
“Well, I… I don’t really know.”
“You should. It’s really neat. Did you know that He forgives us for everything we do wrong?”
“Yeah, as a matter of fact I did.”
Len thought back to the time he was at a youth rally, listening to some old guy preaching on a stage. He could feel the tug on his heart as the man spoke. Then the man prayed and asked anyone to come to the altar if they felt led. Len had and felt renewed and good, like a new man. But, he grew up and got into things that pulled him away.
Len patted Cole’s head. “It’s not as easy as that, though.”
“Oh yeah?” Len couldn’t believe he was arguing with an eight-year-old.
“Yeah. So, you just have to remember it all the time. And it makes you a better person. You won’t want to do bad stuff as much. I used to steal cookies off of the plate when mom was baking them, but now I don’t because Jesus helps me not to.”
Len chuckled. “Is that so?”
“Uh huh. So, you should do it too.”
“So, you’re going to go to Heaven?”
“Yep. You can go to, but you have to know Jesus. He’s the one that lets you in. Like at the movies. You have to have a ticket to get in.”
“We’ll see,” Len said, focusing on the stage as the music started.
Throughout the service, Len felt that tug inside that he had so long ago, and, when the service ended, Len went to the altar and prayed with the pastor. Len prayed for forgiveness and salvation. When he got up, he wiped tears from his face and hugged the pastor.
Cole stood there, looking up at him. “Now I’m excited, Uncle Len.”
Len knew why Cole had stayed home. Not because his parents didn’t want him on their mission trip, but because Cole was on a mission trip of his own.
He pulled the boy in tight and held him there. “Thanks. I’m excited too.”
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