Saturday came quickly and the weather was perfect for a picnic. The park was crowded with families and groups enjoying the cooler mountain air and the green of the trees. The smell of charcoal was in the air and the shouts of groups of people playing volleyball, softball and Frisbee could be heard all around. The Johnson’s were already there when Johnny and his parents arrived. Johnny had all of his fishing gear. Actually he had brought more gear than he could carry because he not only brought his own and some for Stanley but also enough for Susie as well. He wanted to find out more about what made her different.
The church had reserved the site closest to the creek so Johnny headed straight for the big rock that hung out over the fishing hole. He was dropping something about every 4th or 5th step and had to stop to pick it up. This usually caused him to drop something else and then he would walk another 4 or 5 steps, drop something else and then have to stop to pick it up and then as he bent over to pick that up, something else would fall out of his overstuffed arms and it would all begin again.
Susie saw Johnny coming and watched this routine a couple of times before she decided that Johnny really needed some help. She was laughing to herself as she was trotting over to help him with his load and shouted out to him. “Would you like some help with all of that stuff Johnny?” Johnny looked her direction and then something else slipped from his grip. He smiled and said, “I guess I do after all. I thought that I could carry all of this, but, I think that I tried to carry a little too much at once. Thanks, Susie!”
After they got all of the gear stashed next to the big rock, they went over to where the picnic tables were and sat with the rest of the kids from the church. Susie’s father asked everyone to be quiet to that they could thank the Lord for the food. Things quieted down right away and heads bowed in prayer.
Pastor Tom spoke with a reverent voice, “Lord, here we are. Your people gathered in your name to rejoice in your blessings as your church. We thank you Lord for the blessing of each other. We thank you for this glorious day to be outside together enjoying each other. I want to thank you especially for my wife’s fried chicken. I have been waiting all week to eat that. (There was a wave of subdued giggling and muffled laughter followed by a playfully stern ‘Tom!’ from the pastor’s wife.) Ahem! Most of all Lord, I want to thank you for your Son, Jesus. It is His life among us that allows us to have the marvelous fellowship that we enjoy. It was His sacrifice on that cross on that hill long ago that has given us new life. Lord I pray that, if there are any among us that do not know you, they will see clearly today what they are missing out on. This fun and fellowship is just a slight taste of what heaven will be like and I am sure that no one wants to miss out on that. Amen! Let’s eat!! Pass the chicken, please!”
Now, it hadn’t been much of a sermon as sermons go, but it hit Johnny right were he had been thinking. Just before the prayer he was thinking that this sure was what he would like heaven to be like. And then he thought about the fact that he had never really asked Jesus to be his Saviour. He knew that he ought to, but, he also thought that the kids would make fun of him at school and he wanted to fit in there really badly. He also thought that since most of the kids in church already thought that he was saved, he would look pretty silly. In spite of all of that, Johnny wanted to have what these people had. He wanted it very badly. He was just afraid.
Susie happened to notice the look of sadness on Johnny’s face before the prayer and took the time to pray especially for him. She also determined to talk to him later when they could be alone.
Johnny watched people talking excitedly while they ate. They talked, they laughed, they were having more fun than he could remember seeing people have.