Summary: Your faith will be tested by this world, so learn how deep it runs. How far will will you follow Jesus? What kind of follower are you?
The phone rings. I answer it only to hear something I never thought I would. Shock overtook my senses before I could even say a word. All I could say was, “What?” I will never forget that one day when the last straw fell and all the strength I had dissolved instantly into complete nothingness inside of me. It has been almost six years since I received that call and have never forgotten it. Life had taken its toll on me during the years preceding that day, that moment in my lifetime. I stood in the middle of a war zone called life and watched as the ground became riddled with craters. The bombs that dropped deafened my ears and hardened my heart to life, towards people, and towards the world. I watched again and again as those around me dropped and broke, never to return.
I remember a very close friend of mine, Shannon Ahtone. It was during grade school that we bonded and stuck together. She and I were inseparable. Each day we would get off the school bus and meet together. I remember her face long with a wide grin. Her hair was that common color of Indian black hair, almost exactly like mine. One day, her family moved and she vanished from my life only to reappear some seven years later. Since then I had gone through considerable changes in life, the most notable being that I accepted Christ. When I met her again, I felt quite euphoric in getting a second chance to be close to my friend. Then, slowly I began to notice how she had changed since they had left. She had piercings all over her body. No biggie, everyone had their own style. She had an ankle bracelet that kept track of her. My breath almost stopped as I saw that on her leg. She had chosen a very bad path. So, I decided to give my all to help my childhood friend. We sat many nights talking about what life had dealt us during those years. I found out some of what I endured wasn’t all that bad in comparison. I could see the toll taken in her once perfect face. Her eyes sagged a little and I could see her shoulders sink further down as she told me her story. I told her about Christ and told her she could talk to Janice, a new close friend, if she needed a female.
Her demeanor soon changed. It was like a miracle had occurred and the Shannon I used to know had returned with her rosy cheeks and beautiful smile. She accepted Christ and gobbled up every single thing she could about Him. She continually came to church and enjoyed times of fun with myself and Janice. One day she didn’t show up however. Janice and I grew concerned after another week had gone with her presence. I visited her home. He mom opened the door and although it took her a minute, she recognized the little boy who used to be Shannon’s best friend. She begged me to help Shannon. Help Shannon with what? Just as fast as she had accepted Christ, she ditched Him to go back to the way she lived before; going to different men for love, drinking, among other activities. She didn’t weigh what it would cost her to become a Christian. She thought it would change her and she wouldn’t want the other life she had been living anymore. I lost a dear friend to sin and evil. She was only 17 when I lost her. She didn’t understand that she had to leave her old life but she wanted to keep her old boyfriend and her parties and lost because of it. “As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.””
Time would march forward regardless of whether I wanted to or not. Unrelenting I was sent almost as if guided into the lives of many people. I had grown so much since that last episode that I thought I could handle teaching others. I was respected in the church because of my knowledge and so I began looking after some of the younger kids. I got close to some of them but one in particular. Evan was his name and boy was he small compared to most. His parents were very skinny people. His dad was a mechanic with a small plop of red hair on his head, the remnants of balding. He had definitely inherited their traits. He was energetic and ornery as cat hyped up on catnip. I remember playing volleyball with him and trying to teach him what it meant to be dedicated. I remember taking him out to play pool in a smoke-free pool hall just twenty minutes away. I had a lot of fun talking with him and answering his questions as best as a teenager could.