It was on the side of the road, outside Phenix City. The small crowd of folks crawled out of their cars, wearing their Sunday best, walking toward a small pond. It was a curious sight, to see vehicles lined up on the shoulder in the middle of nowhere.
My buddy said the whole church came to these events. Which wasn’t saying much—there weren’t many members.
No sooner had I stepped out of the truck, than a woman in a frilly hat shushed me, whispering, “Y’all almost missed it, you’re just in time.”
Three men waded into shallow brown water while the small crowd sang a song I didn’t recognize. My friend knew it by heart, something to do with the River Jordan.
One man stood in the water wearing rubber chest waders, the kind meant for fishing. The boy beside him wore tennis shoes, a bathing suit, and a long white T-shirt.
“Purpose,” said the man in waders. “God has a purpose for this boy.”
The man went on to explain that one week prior, the boy, had survived a motorcycle wreck. Somehow, the boy walked away from the accident without breaking a bone or sustaining a single injury.
Several hallelujahs followed.
My friend hallelujahed.
I grunted, “amen,” in the same voice I use at football games.
The man in waders said, that since the boy had survived his brush with death, God must’ve had an infinitely important purpose for his life.
“YESSSS Lord!” the old woman next to me said.
“Amen,” said my friend.
The boy’s face was serious, solemn. Then, the two men leaned him backward into the water with a splash. When they brought him up, he was grinning ear to ear.
People hollered things like, “glory,” and, “praise the Lord,” then started singing, “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.” Which seemed like a strange song.
Because the truth is, this world is a mess. Even God knows that. People are angry, they treat each other with less dignity than they’d show stray Labradors. Just watch the evening news, you can hear all about it. Shootings, sex scandals, politics, and terrorism.
Even so, you ought to see fifty people dunk a teenager in some water and tell him he’s important. Watch his mama wrap him in a towel, then kiss him on the cheek. Watch them sing.
I don’t care what anyone says about this world.
There’s hope for us.