The Adventures of Billy and Bobby
Book 3, Chapter 16
Taking the Plunge
by Greg Wright
In the last story, Reggie was reunited with his mother after fleeing gang retaliation. After that, Pastor Felix helped Reggie and his mother get settled at Uncle Max's house. Unfortunately, Uncle Max was poor, and his house was too small for them all. However, they all made it work, partly because, if you are poor enough, you aren't as aggressive to protect all your nick knacks, fine china, expensive furniture, hardwood floors, Berber carpet, oriental rugs, etc. Felix was often amazed with how the poorest people could be the most open to hospitality.
But, the needs were more than Uncle Max and Felix's small church could handle. Reggie and his mother had lost everything except for her car and Reggie's bicycle. All they had were the clothes on the backs. They needed clothes, food, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, towels, and all the other basic things that we usually take for granted. So, Felix contacted a pastor he knew in Marianna. The pastor was from a different denomination, but Felix had met him at a Tres Dias weekend where they had become good friends. When it came to helping people in need, they did not let denominational differences get in their way.
Together with the folks in Marianna, Felix's church in Tallahassee worked out a plan to not only feed and clothe Reggie and his mother, but to help them get resettled in a new town, where they would be safe from the gangs they had left behind. They found an affordable rental house in a rural community, close to Montgomery, Alabama, and they found a job for Reggie's mom, compatible with her experience working in a fast food restaurant. But most helpful, they found another sponsoring church, which would watch over them and care for them spiritually, as well as physically in their new location.
Reggie looked forward to moving with excitement. But before he left Tallahassee, he wanted one last chance to be together with Billy, Bobby, and Daniel. Since it was still too dangerous for Reggie to go to Marianna, they decided to all meet at Wakullah Springs for a cookout and fun in the water.
Felix was the first to arrive, followed closely by Max, Reggie, and Reggie's mother. Felix and Max huddled under the shade trees in their lawn chairs. "I really shouldn't be doing this," Felix commented. "I don't even know what I'm going to preach on tomorrow."
"Oh, you'll think of something," Uncle Max said, reassuringly. "Besides, I can't wait to meet these kids that Reggie has said so much about."
Meanwhile, by the water, Reggie's mother grabbed a beach towel and found a place in the green grass to lounge in the sun. Reggie headed straight for the water, jumped in, and then immediately jumped out.
"This is really cold!" He complained.
"Reggie's mother laughed. "Go on back in; you'll get used to it. This water is fed by a spring and stays between 68 and 72 degrees all year."
She was right and Reggie did get used to it. But, he still came out every few minutes to see if Billy, Bobby, and Daniel had arrived. After about an hour had passed, he became anxious and discouraged.
"What if they forgot," He thought. "I wanted to call Bobby and remind him, but Uncle Max said we couldn't afford any more long distance calls. What if they got distracted, or worse, what if they really didn't want to come. After all, while they've been very forgiving and generous towards me, why should I think that they would travel out of town just to say goodbye."
As Reggie's spirit dropped, so did his energy. He resigned himself to floating on his back, moving his feet and hands just enough to keep from sinking, almost drifting off to sleep, when SUDDENLY TWO HANDS PUSHED HIS HEAD UNDER THE WATER.
Reggie turned and slashed at the water with his arms, so disoriented that he didn't know which way was up. Finally, he managed to stand up, sputtering, coughing, and gagging. It all would have been very loud, except it was drowned out by the laughter of Daniel, Billy, and Bobby.
"You guys sure know how to make an entrance," Reggie declared when he finally caught his breath.
"I got you," Daniel said, grinning broadly.
"You did that? Hey you're good," Reggie responded. "Here, jump up on my shoulders; let's see if we can take on these other guys."
"Hurray, water wrestling!" Billy yelled, as he accepted the challenge and climbed onto Bobby's shoulders.
Billy hadn't quite climbed on when Reggie growled like a sea monster and charged. Bobby moved quickly to get out of the way, but not before Daniel had grabbed Billy and pulled him over.
"Hey, that doesn't count!" Billy declared. "We weren't ready."
"Okay, Daniel agreed, we'll play it over. But, then, Daniel proceeded to pull Billy over two more times. Bobby was beginning to wish he could be on top. Then he got an idea and quietly gave Billy a new plan of attack.
On the next round, Billy completely left Bobby and climbed onto Daniel's back, freeing Bobby to go under water and pull Reggie's legs out from under him.
Once again, Reggie came up sputtering and coughing. When he regained his breath he said, "guys, let's do something easier; let's jump off the high dive."
Daniel and Billy just looked at each other. "Easier?" Now, here, I must tell you that I don't remember the height of the highest dive at Wakullah Springs, except that it is much higher than the high dives at public swimming pools and can be very intimidating.
But Reggie wasn't intimidated, and he was the first to jump, followed by Bobby. Then, seeing that Reggie and Bobby had survived and being reasonably confident of his ability to swim, Billy turned towards Daniel. "I guess I'm next. You will follow, won't you."
"I don't know; this is a bit high for me."
"Just watch me, Daniel. If I can do it, I know you won't have any trouble."
"Billy had no trouble, and as soon as he surfaced, he cleared the area and hollered up to Daniel. "Go ahead Daniel, you can do it."
Daniel moved forward, but then he hesitated. Somehow, with it being just he and the lifeguard, it looked more dangerous. Then he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Reggie, already back for another jump. "Go for it, dude!"
"I can't; it's too high."
"It is high, but that's what makes it so cool. We've proven that it's safe. I promise you, you won't get hurt. I know you can do it; I believe in you. You do believe me, don't you?"
Daniel turned around, looked Reggie straight in the eye, and said, "I trust you."
Daniel's choice of words startled Reggie. Indeed, Reggie was glad that his red hair was wet and dripping, hiding the unwelcome tears that were forming in his eyes. Trust is a much stronger word than believe, and it wasn't necessary for Daniel to use that word unless he really meant it.
It is one thing to try hard to do what is right. It is even better to have a brother come alongside and say "I see how hard you're trying, and you're doing great. Keep it up."
But to hear the very kid, who had been the victim of his taunts and torments during those days before Reggie knew Jesus, use those words, I trust you, was like having confirmation from God himself. It was like feeling his smile through the healing radiance of forgiveness, God's forgiveness, lived out through Daniel. It's no wonder that God commands us to forgive our enemies."
As Daniel wondered why Reggie was so quiet, the reality of what Daniel had just said caught up to him. If he really trusted Reggie, he had to jump. It wasn't really trust unless it moved his feet. As long as it was just in his head, it was just an idea; it wasn't real trust. Real trust changes what we do."
Finally, Daniel broke the silence. "Reggie, I'm going to jump. Would you give me a count down? Start at five and count backward."
"I could start at ten."
"No, start at five. Go ahead, start!"
"Okay, Five, four, three, two..."
Daniel didn't wait to hear the last number. Whether it was newly found courage, or simply reckless abandonment to his friend's desire to see him succeed, Daniel pushed sanity aside and took the plunge.
The water almost seemed to bite as he crashed through it, making his arms and legs tingle as he sank deeper and deeper. Daniel got very concerned that he wouldn't stop sinking, so he started trying to swim upwards. But, he relaxed as soon as the downward inertia fizzled and his body began to rise on its own.
As Daniel's head broke through the water, he could hear his friends cheering. "You did it Daniel, you did it!"
"You didn't wait for the count down to finish!" Reggie yelled.
"I couldn’t; I had to trick my feet," Daniel laughed.
Unfortunately, the cheers alarmed Felix and Uncle Max, and they raced to the water to see what was wrong. Mr. and Mrs. Brown, Bobby's parents, ran down there as well.
"Don't worry," said Reggie's mother, "Daniel just went off the high dive and the kids are cheering for him. See, there he goes again."
"I never would have believed it," said Mrs. Brown. "Daniel's usually so timid."
"I'm not surprised," said Mr. Brown. "I've watched these kids, and they are different from any other group I've seen. Most kids tear each other down, but these kids build each other up and encourage each other. Even when they have misunderstandings, they are quick to forgive."
"I wonder what makes them different?" Uncle Max pondered.
"I bet I can tell you," said Felix. "There are lots of kids out there who claim to be Christians. But you can always tell the real Christians by the way that they treat each other. For kids to overcome that natural tendency to put each other down, God has to change their hearts. These kids are real Christians."
"You're real too, Pastor Felix," said Reggie's mother. "Thank you for all you've done."
"Yes," echoed Uncle Max, "we are very much in your debt."
"Hey, my pleasure," replied Pastor Felix, who never liked to hang around when people were praising him. Oh my, look at the time. I'd better get the hot dogs started."
Max and Mr. Brown followed to help Felix with the grill while Mrs. Brown stayed by the water to talk to Reggie's mother.
After all the hot dogs were eaten, the kids were told to tell Reggie goodbye so they could go home. Reggie wondered, sadly, if the would ever have friends like this again. He wondered if there would be gangs at his new school. Would he stand firm and continue in his faith.
Felix gathered the group together to pray. Everyone laid hands on Reggie and his mother. Then they sang a hymn.
After Daniel, Billy, and Bobby had given Reggie their addresses and phone numbers, Mr. and Mrs. Brown gathered them into the car. As they rode away, they continued to wave at Reggie until he could no longer be seen.
Reggie continued to look down the road even after the Brown's car was out of sight. Then, he looked up towards the giant live oak branches that were over his head, and beyond that, to the stars that were just beginning to become visible. As he considered the majesty of the heavens, his thoughts turned towards God.
Then, this occurred to him. "The fact that I am a Christian, now, is God's work. Indeed, it is nothing less than a miracle. And this same God, who made the live oaks, who made the stars, and who changes the hearts of bullies and gang leaders, can and will see me through."
For a moment, it was as if all the contours and colors of creation were heightened. The locusts and crickets cried their loudest, and the fire flies joined the stars in lighting the sky, as Reggie raised his arms high over his head in praise to God, ready and unafraid to take the plunge.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25