I'm very fortunate to have a mom that brought me up going to church. Sunday morning attendance of Sunday School and 'Preaching' , as it was called, was not optional in our home for either me or my sister. Dad was on his own program.
Despite a steady stream of Bible stories, sermons and church activities, I was well into my teen years before accepting the Kingdom through the free pardon of sin known as grace. Despite having a wealth of positive influences around me most all the time, there was conflict there also. I believed what I had been told about the path to Heaven for the most part, but I needed to still know more before taking that most important step.
During my 8th grade year, I decided to go out for basketball that winter. I had played football and baseball since I was five years old, but organized basketball had never been a standout sport for me. Despite the fact, I made the team and found a niche as a scrappy utility player. My playing philosophy was the rules provided for 5 fouls each game...why not make sure I used them all. Besides, that's why there were 7 other guys on the bench.
Prior to a rivalry game on our home court, the team was lined up in the hall waiting to file out for pre-game warm ups. There was a longer than usual wait because the opposing coach wanted us to come out first, and our coach was calling his bluff. I was always one of the first out, so I posted up at the door and was peeking out through a small crack. Directly in my line of sight was the opposing teams cheerleaders. Third from the right in their line up was the absolute hottest 13 year old I had ever seen.
I quickly motioned for a couple of the guys to move up and take a look. After everyone had taken a gander and weighed in with their assessments, I pushed everyone aside and repositioned for another look. What came out of my young mouth next would probably make a sailor blush...as a matter of fact...I'm blushing now just recalling the incident. But a crude comment wasn't enough. Oh no. I went into a tirade of obscenity-filled filth that I barely understand the meaning of today, much less as a hormone-overloaded teenager who was yet to experience sex for the first time. Apparently, I was taking the pornography my cousin and I had hidden in our grandfather's barn and little to literally.
As I plastered to the door crack going through my best Redd Foxx stand-up bit (which were quite filthy I've heard), I felt a hand on my shoulder. I shrugged it off and defended my spot with my best boxing out position. The hand came back to my shoulder, and as I whirled around to confront the idiot that was interrupting my peepshow, I was looking eye-to-eye with my basketball coach. The look on his face at that moment will never leave my mind's eye. With just a gruffed 'get back in line right now,' I knew my life as I had known it was over. Our coach was the son of a Baptist pastor, and unlike me, he had paid close attention during his younger days in church.
After the game (which I never step foot on the floor during), he told me to meet him in the hallway outside our locker room. He never raised his voice or even showed anger. What he projected very clearly was...disappointment. He lectured me for the better part of half an hour and how I thought my mom and dad would feel if they knew what I had said. He told me he wasn't going to say anything to them...but God would still know, and I would have to deal with Him. Of course, I would also be running a little extra after our next practice...which he lied about...I ran a lot extra.
At the time, I was most relieved by my coach's decision not to tell my parents of my actions. The God comment really didn't set home with me until a few years later after I was saved. A few years back, I was recalling the incident with him during a visit. We both laughed at the story and shared a few more from my mischievous younger days. I told him I'd never forget the look of disappointment on his face that day...but that today I'm even more aware of how disappointed my Father had been.
The small smile on his face acknowledged that the lesson he intended that day had actually been learned.