Standing Together . . . Falling Apart
Preface: The indication of God’s presence among His people is in the Christlike spirit manifested within the church. It can be seen in the way forgiveness and restoration are extended to those who err, in how they help each other in trials, and in intentional acts of kindness shared not only among themselves but also with unbelievers.
It was noon recess, and six of us were prisoners in our own snow fort less than 100 feet from the school. Our captors, part of that malevolent horde known collectively as the Big Kids, amused themselves by throwing iceballs at anyone unfortunate enough to be caught outside the fort. Half an hour crawled by, and they showed no signs of boredom. The fort had no bathroom, and panic was setting in. Our thoughts turned to methods of escape. Paula went first. The only girl in the group, she suspected that all males were afflicted with that dreaded childhood malady known as cooties. She voiced this opinion to Timmy, who threatened to wash her face with snow. Paula screamed and ran for the school building. She covered less than 30 feet before a Big Kid (who undoubtedly suffered from a terminal case of cooties) caught her and washed her face anyway. She retreated, sniffling, to the relative safety of the snow fort.
I went next. A crafty and smug third-grader, I struck out across the field, brimming with confidence. Surprise was on my side, and I was making good progress when my boot got caught on a strand of barbed wire, and I plunged, thrashing, into a drift. My pursuers were on me in an instant. I retreated in humiliation, my shirt full of snow, looking like a huge bipedal tortoise.
Marty tried next. A die-hard fan of old war movies, he fashioned an impressive helmet from a Superman lunch box and donned it proudly. Thus protected, he strode manfully toward the school. Before he had traveled 15 feet, Buddy, the star pitcher in Pony League, rose up out of hiding and launched an iceball. The projectile clanged noisily off the Superman helmet, and Marty staggered back stunned.
One by one, each member of our band of prepubescent fugitives tried—and failed—to reach the school building. Finally, wildeyed and desperate, we loaded our arms with snowballs, swore our loyalty to one another, and charged, en masse, toward the safety of the school.
I learned several things the winter I was 10. I learned not to run across snow-covered fields when I didn’t know where the fences lay, and I learned that lunch boxes make poor armor. I learned about friendship, and I even learned some things about Big Kids. Perhaps most important, though, I learned about the strength that lies in unity.
That strength is essential to our survival; our success depends upon it. Without it, we are certain to fail—more victims of the Big Kids.