When a Good Kid Gets Caught, Part 4
Knowing When to Argue
by Greg Wright

It was Friday, noon. Buzzy, who had just finished eating everything on his plate, was already looking forward to a two-day break from school lunches. The noise in the school cafeteria was deafening, and Buzzy could barely hear what sounded like someone calling his name. While looking behind him, he reached high to place his lunch tray on the stack, already over his head. Suddenly, he felt Chadís firm hand slap him on the back. "Hey Buzzy, whatís up?"

Unfortunately, Buzzy was standing on tiptoes, and the pressure of Chadís hand on his back was just enough to make Buzzy fall against the trays, sending them all crashing to the floor. Immediately, the cafeteria became painfully quiet, until someone noticed Buzzy lying on the floor.

"Hey look, it was Buzzy," they announced, "The cafeteria erupted into thunderous applause and cheers, "Go Buzzy; go Buzzy; go; go; go!"

"Man, Iím sorry," Chad said, half laughing, "I really didnít mean to make you fall. Here, Iíll help you get the trays up," he said, extending his hand to help Buzzy off the floor."

"By the way," Chad continued, "do you have plans for tonight, say around eleven oíclock?"

"Eleven oíclock, sure, I plan to be in bed, asleep."

"Not me, dude," Chad continued, "do you remember Tommy Meadows?"

"Sure, heís a teenager who goes to our church, just got his license I think."

"Better than that, Buzzy, heís got wheels, and tonight weíre going to party."

"Do you mean that your parents are going to let you go to a party at eleven oíclock?" Buzzy asked, surprised.

"Why sure; of course Iím not going to tell them. Theyíll think Iím asleep. Hey, why donít you come along. Iíve already asked Tommy. He thinks itís a great idea. You know, Tommy thinks youíre cool; he says you show greater maturity than most kids your age. Anyway, Iím sure it would be fun."

"No, my Dad would never let me go."

"No Buzzy, let me explain this. You donít tell your Dad. At eleven oíclock Iíll come around and tap on your window. You will stuff a couple of pillows under your covers, in case someone comes into your room, and then climb out the window. Weíll have you back by 5 in the morning and no one will know you were gone."

"But Chad, I would be disobeying my parents."

"Howís that; did your parents tell you not to go to the party? Did they tell you not to climb out your window?"

"No."

"So, you wonít be breaking any rules."

"But Chad, itís dishonest."

"Whatís dishonest about it? Are you lying; are you stealing; are you cheating anyone?"

"No Chad, but honesty is more than avoiding lying, cheating, and stealing. Honesty isnít just what you do but what you are. A truly honest person is trustworthy. Part of the ranger code says that I will be faithful to my family. How can I be faithful to them if I violate the trust they have placed in me?"

"But what about Buzzy. Buzzy matters, too. Are you being faithful to Buzzy."

"What are you talking about?"

"Buzzy, listen to me. You canít just be faithful to other people; you have to be faithful to yourself, too. Someday youíll be old. The days of youthful adventure will be over. Iím afraid for you, that you will find that you spent all your days being so careful that you never really lived; you were only half alive. I want to live, man. Listen to the old guys when you walk by the general store. Listen to the way they talk about their childhood mischief. They laugh about it."

"Yes, thatís true. Some of the stories are really funny."

"You see, Buzzy, grownups will never tell you this, but everyone expects you to get into a little trouble when you are a kid. If we didnít, we would be overprotected and never really grow up. Our parents are so concerned with protecting us that, if they could, they would build a fence around us and keep us kids forever."

"Well, I kind of see what you mean. Sometimes I do resent my parents for not giving me more freedom."

"Everybody does, Buzzy. Youíre a normal kid. Our parents mean well, but in order for a kid to be faithful to himself, sometimes he needs to climb the walls that his parents have built around him. Tonight is your chance."

"Iím not sure about this, Chad."

"Thatís okay, you donít need to give me your answer, now. Tonight Iíll walk through the woods at the back of your house to your bedroom window. Expect me at eleven oíclock. Then, you can either join me or wave me on."

Buzzy nodded. "Okay Chad, thanks."

"No problem. Youíre in for a lot of fun. Weíre going to gather out by Tommyís uncleís pond. Oh shoot, there goes the bell; Iíd better be going." Chad disappeared down the hall.

"He is so persuasive," Buzzy thought, "but is he right. If he is right, why do I feel so uneasy about this. Maybe Iím just afraid of being caught. Wow, is it ever good to be afraid?"

Buzzy thought about this most of the rest of the day. But by suppertime, more urgent matters made him forget: key lime pie, homemade.

While his mother, Carolyn, served the pie, his father, Commander Dave, announced that he had a devotion he wanted to share with his family.

Buzzy groaned. "Dad, thereís a television program thatís coming on in 10 minutes, and Iíve been waiting all week to watch it."

"Dave," Carolyn said, "I did tell him that he could watch it. Would you want to do the devotion on another night."

"I'll tell you what," Dave offered, "since itís short, Iíll just do it while you eat dessert."

"Listen to this from Proverbs chapter one," he began. ĎMy son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.í" Then, Commander Dave looked up.

"That was short," Buzzy observed.

"Buzzy, Iíve got a question for you. When someone tries to persuade you to do something that is wrong, what do they do if you resist?"

"Sometimes theyíll call me names, like chicken. Sometimes theyíll try to persuade me that I wonít get caught. Other times, theyíll try to convince me that itís worth the risk."

"Do you ever find it hard to argue with them?"

"Sure, itís especially hard to argue with the older kids."

"Thatís right, Buzzy, and this is important for you to know because of your age. Most of your friends are between nine and fourteen years old, and there is nothing wrong with that. Itís just that around the age of twelve, the childís ability to argue convincingly greatly improves. Now, suppose that some of those older friends are inclined to get into trouble. When they want you to join them, guess what, they are going to be very convincing."

"What can I do?" Buzzy asked.

"What does the Bible say?" Commander Dave questioned. "Does it tell you to argue with sinners?"

"No," Buzzy replied, "but how can I know if Iím right?"

"Buzzy, the Word of God is our authority for determining right and wrong. But sometimes you wonít be able to think of the verse you need. All youíll have is an uneasy feeling that something is wrong. Buzzy, donít ignore that feeling. It could be The Holy Spirit warning you."

"But what if it isnít?" Buzzy asked.

"Buzzy, thatís when you have to say that you love God so much that you donít want to risk offending him. There is nothing wrong with you refusing to do something when you think it might be wrong. Look your friends right in the eye and say, ĎI donít think this is right, and I donít have to explain why.í Your friends will think youíre crazy. But for you, it will be your secret weapon for avoiding being taken advantage of by clever arguments. Does this make sense to you?"

"Sure," Buzzy replied. "If it feels wrong, it probably is, even if I canít explain why."

"Dad, may I ask you a question?" Buzzy continued, changing the subject. "Dad, did you ever get into serious trouble when you were my age?"

Suddenly, Commander Daveís pager began vibrating. He read its message with a scowl. "Oh yuck, the system crashed. Son, weíll have to talk some more, later. Iíve got to go back to work, and Iím afraid itís going to be a very long night."

Little did Commander Dave realize that he would not be the only one missing sleep that night.

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