"Hey mom, Hope, Samantha and I are going down to the park for a while."
"Do you have your cell phone with you?"
"Yeah, and I have it turned on."
"Ok, have fun then." With that Peter walked outside. Hope and Samantha were waiting on the sidewalk. Peter joined them and they headed towards the park. Samantha was the first to break the silence.
"How are your summers going so far?"
"Good." Both Peter and Hope responded quickly. Hope went on to ask, "What about yours?"
"It's been good. What have you been up to, Peter?"
"Not too much. Playing video games, working on my summer assignments, and doing some community service with my church. What about you, Samantha?"
"Summer assignments, like you, and other stuff like movies and reading some books for pleasure. Last, but not least, what have you been up to Hope?"
"Just to keep with the pattern, summer assignments. I've also been hanging out with friends and catching up on sleep."
Peter spoke up at this point, "I forgot the sleep thing in my list. Maybe I'm just too tired." The three young people chuckled at his joke, then fell silent as they arrived at the park.
The grass area was filled with people playing games or just sitting around soaking up the sun. Peter guided their small group towards the back of the park where a fenced area had more trees as well as good sized hills. Their conversation started up again once they had reached that area.
Samantha was the one to restart the conversation. "Hope, I didn't hear you mention the Bible I gave you to read."
"I read some of it, but I don't see how it can be applied today." Peter wandered a little ways ahead of them and remained quiet, allowing them to talk without his intervention.
"What do you mean?"
"It's 2000 years old. The culture of that day could easily apply its teaching, but today is different."
"They followed the Jewish laws back then, but today we know that killing animals is wrong."
"Yeah, but the New Testament talks about how we are no longer under the law."
"Where? I saw Jesus quote the law multiple times and say that not one letter of it would pass away until the end of time."
"I don't remember." Peter's head lowered slightly, but he remained silent.
"What about homosexuality? Or, better yet, AIDs? Those things weren't around back then and aren't dealt with in the Bible."
"Well, it gives you general rules that can be applied to that type of thing." Peter's head dropped even lower, but still neither girl noticed.
"I don't want general rules, I want something that can be applied to my life easily. There was another thing I've heard asked and that I've never heard answered well by a Christian. If your God is all powerful, and all good, as you say he is, how is there evil in the world?"
"That's called the Problem of Evil. I think the answer I've heard to it is that the evil in this world makes God look even better since He is all good."
"So God allows people to die so that He looks even better?"
"No, that's not what I'm saying. I don't know how to explain it well enough." Peter stopped. "What, Peter, do you have a better explanation? You've been quiet this whole time."
Hop and Samantha came even with Peter, but he pushed them back. As he did so 4 young men in ski masks came onto the trail in front of them. Hope and Samantha gasped.
"I see we've been discovered. You," the speaker pointed at Peter, "can go. The girls stay until we're finished with them." To punctuate his threat the speaker took out a knife, and the other three did likewise.
Peter turned, gave Hope his cell phone and pushed both of them. "Go! Run! Call 911!" He turned back to the 4 assailants and dropped into a martial arts ready stance, at least as far as he could tell. One of the assailants wasn't fooled and ran past Peter after the two girls.
Peter sprinted after him, pushed by adrenaline, and tackled him from behind. They wrestled on the ground for a few moments. As the other 3 assailants caught up the one on the ground jumped up.
"Run! I stabbed him!" At the same time the sound of sirens became evident. The assailants turned tail and fled.
When the girls finally got the courage to look behind them they saw that the assailants were gone. They stopped and turned around. It was only then that they say Peter lying on the ground, both hands covering his chest.
Hope starting talking into the phone once more while Samantha ran back toward Peter. When she finally reached him she noticed that his breathing was abnormal. It seemed too slow.
"Did you get punched in the stomach?" Peter didn't respond, so she knelt down beside him. She began to raise his arms, but dropped them as soon as she saw blood. He grunted when they hit again, but Samantha was already running back toward Hope.
"He was stabbed!"
"The chest!" Both girls looked towards Peter, then towards an approaching siren. Finally an ambulance came into view. The girls split without speaking. Hope ran towards Peter and Samantha went towards the ambulance. As she neared it two men jumped out and she motioned them to follow her.
Samantha ran back, and the two men were close behind. They put him onto the stretcher then got him back to the ambulance. Both girls were allowed to ride with Peter to the hospital.
After about ten minutes in the waiting room a doctor came towards them. His face was downcast. "He's not going to make it." Tears sprang to their eyes and they stared into nowhere. "I'm sorry."
Hope was the first to regain her composure, at least somewhat. "Can we talk to him?"
"You can talk to him but I can't promise he'll respond."
"That's better then nothing."
"I'll take you to him." Both girls followed in a state of unreality. How could this really be happening when they had been taking a nice walk in the park 45 minutes before? Peter couldn't be about to die… And yet he was.
When they walked into Peter's room his eyes opened. Both girls forced smile onto their faces hoping to help Peter's mood. Hope was again the first to speak, "You feeling better yet?" Peter didn't respond, so she continued. "You'll be fine in a couple days, as good as new."
Peter spoke up, very quietly, "I will be…as good as new…but not what you're thinking. I'll be…with…Jesus."
"You can speak?" Said Hope, trying to change the subject away from the topic of the afterlife. She went to the right side of his bed while Samantha went to the left.
"Why…" Peter silenced her with a raised finger and turned to Samantha.
"Act first…then speak. You can find…some of your…answers…in Romans." Now Peter turned back towards Hope. Though he was fading, these last words were somehow strong and clear.
"The answer to your question of 'Why' is this: Because the Bible still applies. 'My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.' John 15:12-13"
Copyright Information- The Bible verse is quoted from the NIV Translation of the Bible. All other elements of this story are original as far as I know.
Author's Note- In case you are actually wondering, there are answers to the questions I posed through Hope in this story. If you would like to hear my (I emphasis my because I'm not a pastor, just a layperson) answers email me at Gelitination@yahoo.com and I'll give you the best answers I can.