|Word Count C-10 = 1,496||Montgomery|
In an instant, Colton grasped the entire “big picture” concerning his relationship with Hank Ward—an acquaintance at the health club and author of the story, “Pride Island.” Hank had left the story’s manuscript in Colton’s unsecured gym locker a couple of weeks before, along with an attached note.
In the note, Hank had stated that he was sorry he had disturbed Colton’s “comfort sphere” at the gym, on and off, over the years. He also had said that this was the first draft of a novel he had created and that it had been inspired by Colton. He had added that, even if it never got published, the time and energy expended to write it were worth it—if, somehow, it influenced Colton in a positive way, as Hank hoped it might. He concluded by saying that he would be moving away and that he wished Colton all the best in life.
Colton had been reluctant even to open the manuscript, much less to read it. But, about a week later, something had strongly compelled him to begin perusing it. It certainly was not the best story he had read, but it held his attention—at least enough so that he was able to complete it in a couple of days.
As he had read “Pride Island,” a few things had been clear to Colton. For one thing, he had discerned that Hank was a “composite” of both Geoff and Luke. Also, although he himself was neither a coach (though he did love basketball) nor a teacher—nor even part Jewish—Colton had known that he was portrayed by Pierce. He had wondered if Steven depicted his “dark side,” but he was not certain.
In any case, he suspected that Hank had used Pierce to emphasize Colton’s positive traits, attempting to show that “good” people are not worthy of heaven but, rather, those upon whom the righteousness of Jesus has been imparted—via His shed blood. And the friendship which unfolded between Pierce and Geoff was indicative of the relationship which easily could have emerged, anytime, out of Colton and Hank’s mere acquaintanceship—had both been willing to put aside their mutual pride.
However, it was not until that very moment that Colton grasped how the things Hank had communicated to him about God were true and were relevant to him: God was real, He was Colton’s Creator, and He wanted to have a close and meaningful relationship with Colton. Colton also became convinced that both heaven and hell existed. For the first time in his life, Colton possessed a broken, contrite spirit. His emotion might have overcome him, had these transitory thoughts not been interrupted by a higher Source.
As time crept imperceptibly forward—or else, maybe God simply had caused Colton’s thinking processes to accelerate greatly—the still, small, now-familiar “voice” returned. Colton knew it was God’s Holy Spirit inquiring of his spirit, So, what about that nice, green-eyed, blonde girl at the party?
Colton assumed, reasonably, that he never would see her again; yet he had an uncanny feeling that he might. He thought, I regret that it is too late now to offer her the apology that I owe her. I was such a jerk....
And why did you resist a friendship with Hank and disregard the things he told you about Me? the quiet “voice” continued to query.
Colton was resolute in his unspoken response: I cannot deny that it was due to my foolish pride...and even a little fear, as well.
Do you receive me now? the “voice” finally inquired gently, but firmly.
Yes, Father, reflected a humble Colton. I know that Jesus rose from the dead, so that I can have eternal life; and I accept Him as both my Savior and my Lord. But...must I die in this car accident, Lord?
The Holy Spirit answered, The wages of sin is death. However, my mercy is great. You will do things to bring many to Me, for my glory. And I will take great pride in you. Go, now, and execute your first momentous task.
To Colton’s utter astonishment and wonder, he realized that his sports car was proceeding, unimpeded, down the freeway! Moreover, he fully was in his right mind, free of the effects of the PCP he had smoked. Glancing into his rearview mirror, Colton could see the orange and black steel crane—still sitting on the overpass! It dawned on him that the drug must have caused a powerful hallucination. The crane had not fallen onto the freeway after all—or had it? Colton began to consider, Did God “undo” what happened and “alter” the ensuing chain of events? Is anything beyond God’s control?
But he had no time to contemplate any of this. The mighty quake was real, and it continued, unabated. Wow, is this “the Big One”? All four of his Corvette’s tires still felt flat. Cars, his included, were weaving on the expressway; many were pulling off to the side. Colton glimpsed the “Fairview Road” sign, the exit he took to go home. Braking, he barely made the off-ramp.
Still not in control of his car, Colton could not prevent a collision with the guard fence on the right side. His car broke through the fencing and stopped at the brink of a ravine, alongside the road. The quaking ceased as he jumped out. Dashing to the front of the car to see if his right-front tire was over the edge, he observed that another section of the fence was missing a few yards further. Someone’s car had torn through it and had rolled halfway down the grassy bank. Water from a recent storm was rushing by, about 25 feet below.
“It looks like Hank Ward’s car!” exclaimed an astounded Colton. He recalled having seen Hank at the party earlier and having ignored Hank when he had waved. It is his car! This is too bizarre! Colton made a flying leap, tripped when he landed, and rolled the rest of the way to Hank’s car. Hank’s motionless body was slumped over his steering wheel. A strong aftershock jolted the car yet further down the incline and closer to the torrent of water.
Colton frantically pulled Hank from the car and over to a less-sloped spot. Hank was not breathing—nor was his heart beating. Colton looked at Hank’s lifeless face for a moment and then began pounding ineffectually on Hank’s chest, shouting, “No!...I never got to know you, Hank!” Looking up into the night sky, illuminated by a rare, lustrous blue moon, Colton cried out, “It can’t end this way! Dear God, help me!...I don’t know how to do CPR!” He paused and added, “C’mon, God...you’ve gotta do something!”
The Holy Spirit impressed upon Colton, You have embraced the Name which is above all names. Now, only believe. Without delay, recalling Pierce’s words to Luke, Colton placed his hands on Hank’s chest and cried out again, “In the Name of Jesus...I claim that you will live and not die!” Nothing happened, and Colton’s faith quickly faltered.
Again, he looked upward. He shook his raised fists and yelled, “No, God!...don’t take away my...my friend! Please...you can’t!”
There still was no response from Hank. Colton, head down and all hope gone, whimpered, “Dear Lord God...I know you could have raised him up.”
Suddenly, Colton began to hear deep gasps for air. Gazing upon Hank’s face, he saw that his eyes partially had opened. Hank, focusing on Colton’s eyes, sputtered in seeming disbelief, “Co...Colton?...Colton Lowe?” He blinked a few times, as though he thought he were dreaming. “It can’t be.”
Another sharp aftershock struck, and Hank’s car tumbled down to the bottom of the ravine, upside down, and rapidly filled with water. Colton grabbed Hank’s shoulders, leaned down, and spoke into his ear: “Hank! It’s me, and you’re gonna be OK, buddy!...thank God we’re both all right!” After a few seconds, sensing that Hank was about to say something else, Colton drew back and peered into eyes which were as blue as his own.
“It...it really is you, Colton! When did pigs start to fly?”
Colton laughed. Through tears of joy, and with his trademark “killer” smile, Colton continued, “I read that book you wrote, pal...and do I ever have an amazing story to tell you! In fact, what happened to me since I left that party tonight is...well...beyond incredible!”
“Me too...Tank!” Hank sat up and asserted hazily, yet fervently, “Believe it or not, I just beheld heaven...and it’s very much like the way that guy in my novel saw it!”
Colton approved of his new nickname and, with a gleam in his blazing blue eyes, replied with a snicker, “You mean...your ‘half-buddy,’ Luke?”
And, with that, a permanent bond of camaraderie was formed between two human spirits. Eventually, they often would soar together over vast mountains and valleys, exploring innumerable, glorious secrets and mysteries, in the new Creation of God to come—forevermore.
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