Pixie Sticks, A Bench, & Good Friends

Summertime in Oklahoma has to be right up there with sliced bread.

Sitting on the porch, downing Pixie Sticks, showing off dyed tongues, making mud pies, playing an 80’s space shooter computer game, watching the commercial of the doll head with Play-Doh hair that you could really cut, and climbing a perfect climbing tree are some of my favorite memories in Oklahoma.

But they’re not my favorite.

My favorite started out rather nefariously.  (I love the word nefarious, and I just about never get the chance to use it.  Thanks for letting me use it here, even if it doesn’t really work with the story.  It sounds like it should.)

My mom and I were at our friends’ house, and me and the two sisters were hanging out.  They were both younger than me, one by not much, the other by a lot.  We were clowning around and we schemed a plot to make everybody in the house upset with us.

Yeah.  Real smart.  But what can I say?  I was 7.

We decided we were going to put a blue dyed flimsy little rubber scorpion that wouldn’t fool, well, probably even a rubber worm, on the floor and pretend it was real.

We commenced to do this, with much dramatic screaming.

My mom told us to stop.

I don’t know what it is about sin nature that makes you want to do something over and over that you know you’re not supposed to do, but it is not exclusive to adulthood.

We really weren’t trying to be disobedient.  We were just so caught up in the whole scaring-everybody-with-the-scorpion thing.

So we tried it again–

My mom was not happy.  She told me to cease and desist.

–And, uh,

again.

The third time my mom was really mad.  At me.  Go figure.  She made me sit on a bench and stalked into the other room (all right, in my imagination she was stalking, maybe she was just walking normally).

Well, you might be wondering why on earth this is one of my favorite memories.  True, it could have been because she didn’t beat the living daylights out of me for being so annoying . . but that wasn’t why.  Actually, I felt somewhat slighted and deeply “misunderstood”.  I kinda knew it was really my fault, but didn’t want to admit it.  Mostly I was embarrassed in front of my friends.  So far, this memory couldn’t be even remotely pleasant (other than laughter at my stupidity, of course) . . much less top the Pixie sticks or  80’s space shoot out (in color!).  No, it was something else.

The reason this is my favorite memory of Oklahoma is because of what happened next.  It so profoundly astonished me that, 21 years later, I still remember it.  Vividly.

Without a sound, the older sister sat down beside me.  Her younger sister, as if on cue, sat down beside her.

We did not say a word.

In about 15 minutes, my mom came back and released me back into society.  Without a word, my friends got up, too.

I never forgot those 15 minutes.  They were a silence of sweetness . . and they were so special to me that the whole thought of punishment drained away.

It was like going into a prison and finding out once you got inside it’s really a little countryside chapel.

We played after that, I think.  I don’t really remember.  But I loved those girls.  How I loved them.  And I never forgot.

I’ve been around 28 years now, and in all that time, I have never had any experience like that, any but one.

Knowing Jesus.

A long time ago, there was a man who took my place.  Now, most of us have heard this story before, some of us many times.  But the reality never changes:

Christ sat on the bench for us.

And He sits on the bench with us.  Jesus stays with us through our hardships, stupidities, and really dark times.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b, NIV)

Sitting on the porch swing pouring Pixie stick powder on our tongues . . comparing colors . . forming mud pies in the backyard for our imaginary culinary institute . . demolishing alien bats in a rainbow of colors . . sitting on the carpet in front of the TV wishing we had a doll with Play-Doh hair to cut . . reclining in a tree on top of Oklahoma green grass . . telling each other secrets we knew we were good for keeping . . . . . everything was a thousand times sweeter knowing they had sat on the bench with me.

That’s the way it’s going to be with Jesus, when we spend eternity with Him.

He suffered and endured

great pain for us,

but we thought his suffering

was punishment from God. (Isaiah 53:4, CEV)

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Photograph by Rupert Ganzer, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/loop_oh/

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

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