A Feast of Confidence
Hi! I’m Ben. I live in Chicago, Illinois, and here’s my story. You see, it seemed sort of funny to me that I had hated to memorize words from the Bible when I was at the Jensens’, my foster family. At least it seemed funny later when I found myself going over in my mind the words to Psalms 23.
I kept thinking about the part that says, “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.” Huh! I would rather not be in the presence of my enemies, but I was with them alright! I needed to be tough to make it through each day and I really didn’t feel so tough, but, at least, the Jensens Bible memorizing gave me some idea of a strong God who took on someone like me.
I was back with my dad and mom and I was glad of that, but they had moved down town since then and that is when all the trouble started. My parents were back into drugs. They had cleaned up and quit, so I was allowed to come back and live with them. That didn’t last long after I moved back in. I figured my family life probably wasn’t getting much better ever and I just had to get used to it. I just hoped the social worker, Mrs. Green, didn’t take me away again.
Now, I had to go out and get used to my neighborhood and a new school. The apartment building where I lived was an old place. There was a gang that controlled our street, and there was this big teenage guy with a dirty T-shirt full of holes and blue jeans that sat on the steps every morning as I came out of the apartment. He always said, “This here is my steps. You walk down them. You pay!”
The first morning when I came out alone to go to school and he said that, I laughed because I was hoping that he was joking. He wasn’t. “What you laughing at, boy?” He lowered his voice to a growl.
I soon learned he wanted any cash I had on hand before I could pass. That first morning I didn’t have any cash on me, and I said, “I got to go to school.” I tried to hurry on by him. I didn’t want to give him any money anyway.
Bam! Ouch! Ooh! I hit the sidewalk head first and got my face scraped, my nose smashed, and a big bump on my forehead. “I told you! You walk down my steps. You pay!”
Before I knew it, the guy was on top of me pulling out my pockets looking for change. When he was satisfied that I had none he gave me a shove, swearing something awful. I got up and felt kind of dizzy, but I swept my hand up my face and felt the bump on my head. Oh, yuck! My hand was dripping with blood. My nose felt broke. Who does that guy think he is? I wondered, but I wasn’t going to wait around to find out. I ran down the street to the corner bus stop holding my sleeve to my nose.
Then the other kids at the bus stop were not friendly, either. When I got there, the other kids took one look at me and began laughing their heads off.
“What’s the matter with you this morning?” asked the boy who has always bothered me since that day. “Trip over your own feet?” His name was Raul. He bumped my arm and everyone looked at my bloody nose.
“Oh, gross!” said the girls.
“Ha, ha, ha!” Raul and his buddy Eddie doubled over. What was so funny? I wondered. I just said nothing.
So I would scramble for some kind of cash before I left for school every morning. My folks were zoned out most of the time so I didn’t tell them about the guy on the steps, but he was there every morning without fail. He must have stopped all the kids in the building on their way to school.
Once as I got to the front door of the apartment building I saw him bothering two little girls. He was searching their pockets for money and they were crying. I came out and ran over and pulled out a dollar hoping to distract him so the girls could get away. He let them go.
I didn’t like to bring out very much money, but the guy would let me by for fifty cents. If I gave him less than that I got my clothes searched. I wished there was some other way to get out of the building. I had gone out the back door once, but there was another guy on guard there, too. He and the guy out front were both members of that gang.
Some days I just had no money and that is when I would remember Psalms 23. I wondered if God really cared about me like those words said He did. Did He give me a feast in the presence of my enemies? Somehow repeating the words in my head I felt peaceful. I knew God was there, and I could be happy and walk tall.
A Plan that Works
Eventually I thought up a plan to avoid those guys on the steps. I began getting up early and going to the corner before the guys got there. I watched and saw that they were there by six forty-five. I decided to leave the building at six thirty. It worked, and from then on I was the first to arrive at the bus stop. I waited the next day for those two girls and told them my secret. They came out at 6:15 after that!
Those kids down there at the bus stop were no bigger than I was. Some, like Raul, weren’t nice, but they didn’t beat me up. After a while, they left me alone and even seemed to give me some respect.
Often remembering Psalm 23, I think about how God promises to take care of me. I think about the quiet streams He leads me to and the feast in front of my enemies. I guessed I do have a feast of confidence. I am glad I have God on my side. He is tough enough for any problem. I have no idea know how long I will get to stay with my parents because they cannot kick the drugs, but God could even change them! Anyway, I do not have to worry because God can handle anything!
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.