Beginnings: A Delinquent’s Redemption
Two fourteen-year-old boys rode their bicycles down an alley and quietly slipped into a back yard. The first boy regarded himself as an experienced burglar and had been watching this house for a week. He knew no one would be at home.
The second boy had never burglarized a home before and he had let himself be talked into this new adventure.
Once inside the house, the boys passed up valuable items like television sets, stereos and cameras. They were after cash, but found something far more valuable to them – the liquor cabinet.
They stuffed the bottles into sacks and sped away on their bikes. Several blocks later, they stopped to catch their breath.
“Wasn’t that great?” asked the first boy.
“No. I was scared stiff”, replied the second boy. “Look how my hands are shaking.”
“Yeah, that’s what makes it great. It’s the adrenalin pumping in your veins that makes you shake. It’s a rush. It makes you feel like a man,” responded the first boy.
The second boy said nothing, but inwardly his world turned upside down. The values he had been taught as a child had just become re-defined.
As the second boy rode away on his bike, he left the shy, inexperienced side of him behind. He felt proud of what he had just done and laughed at his trembling hands. He was now committed to living up to his new definition of manhood.
No one knew of the new changes in his thinking, but they would soon see the effects of his new value system.
As he grew older, the quantity and quality of his crimes increased to such and extent that he and his friends eventually rented a garage in which to store all of their stolen goods. On the walls of this garage they posted news articles which reported on their crimes. They became so proud of these news clippings that they called that wall their “trophy case”.
One night, shortly after his twentieth birthday, two of his friends were killed in a car accident while driving under the influence of alcohol. All he could think of was how easily that could have been him in the car that night. For the first time in many years, he began to ponder the consequences of his actions.
“If I died like that tonight, would I make it to heaven?” he wondered. “I was a good boy when I was young, but the past few years have been hard ones. Would my former goodness as a little boy outweigh the badness of the past few years?”
As the weeks passed, more and more of these sobering thoughts began to dominate his thinking until, one Sunday morning, he fell on his knees in church and returned to the values he had learned as a child.
The falling to his knees was the easy part. The hard part began when he stood up and surveyed the topography of his life. It did not look promising.
Kids make such momentous decisions at such early stages of their lives that it is frightening.
Charles Dickens wrote, “When (a boy) begins to have whiskers, he leaves off having brains.”
It is my goal to help kids get through the crazy adolescent years with as little damage as possible to themselves and others. If we can get them safely into their twenties, then maybe their brains will begin to function again and we can breathe more easily.
The road to recovery was not easy for the young man in this story, but he has come a long way since the morning he fell on his knees in church.
I know… because that young man was me.