I was skipping stones into the lake without a worry in the world. I was without a watch, and time wasn’t ticking in my mind. I don’t know how long I’d been there at the lake with my thoughts, the stones, and the water. Peacefulness surrounded me; it was life at its finest. The last stone skipped seven times across the water.
Stories of amazing happenings with water throughout history began flooding my mind. Christ walked on water, and the disciple Peter did the same. Then, there is the Jesus Lizard who has the ability to run on water for a short period of steps before sinking. Olympic divers can do all those crazy twists and turns before hitting the water. Water polo always seemed like a pretty cool game. Skipping stones was the game for me, though. A game for one. Alone, but not at all lonely.
People don’t take the time these days to slow down and enjoy life. Everyone seems to be in a mad rush to the finish line when there isn’t even actually a finish line. They should sit by the water and think or pick up some stones, skip them, and also think. I’m all about slowing things down and remembering I’m alive.
If a man is in love with his life, then he’ll remember to be thankful always. A grateful attitude causes men to wake up and come to life. Life isn’t an enduring disappointment for the man who knows how to love. I was alive, in love with my life, and skipping stones across the peaceful lake.
I used to hang out with this girl, back when we were both teenagers, and she was so in love with life. Her name was Sadie, and she was always smiling and doing the funniest stuff. She was just so awesome to be around. Sadie could do the robot dance like no other — there didn’t even have to be any music going for her to break out the robot. We’d just be hanging out in my basement, playing pool and drinking cherry cokes, when she’d win the game and robot dance to celebrate. One time, when she lost the pool game she had a slow-motion, robot heart attack, but then she resurrected as Sadie. Man, I loved hanging out with that girl.
I started wondering if she’d ever hung out and skipped stones alone. Maybe she was somewhere right now doing the exact thing I was doing at this same moment. That thought made me happy. My last stone skipped five times.
I remember the day I first met Sadie. I was dining alone at a local burgers and fries joint. It was the sort of joint where music from 50s and 60s music played around the clock. Sadie was a waitress there, and she walked up to my table with a smile larger than life itself. I found her charming from the start. She took my order for a jalapeno cheeseburger, a side of cheese fries, and a vanilla Dr. Pepper. Afterwards, she walked away in a normal fashion. I didn’t know she was a fan of the robot dance yet. Yeah, she probably only busted it out at work while goofing around in the back, away from the customers.
Trips for burgers and fries started becoming a ritual for me. The first reason for this is because I really liked this particular combo. The second reason is because I truly enjoyed just chatting with Sadie. Eventually, we struck up a friendship and started hanging out. Some people say men and women can never really be just friends, but some folks are wrong. I’m a loner, and so was she. Yeah, I’d very much so like to believe she’s off skipping stones right now in Seattle while enjoying her incredibly awesome own company.
My last stone skipped nine times, a truly epic skip. So, this is me at age twenty-three. My teenage years are behind me. I’ve never missed being a teenager for even a moment. Some folks say high school was the best years of their life, I say today is the best day of my life, and I’ll evaluate the worth of tomorrow whenever tomorrow gets here. But I’m pretty sure tomorrow will be the best day of my life also.
I journeyed through the darkness as a teenager. Sadie was a shining light of hope to me when I was in such desperate need of hope. We’d have these long conversations about Jesus back when I didn’t actually believe in anything besides living for the moment. When I’d be sad, she would tell me life doesn’t have to be like that. When I’d be melancholy, she’d start making goofy faces to cheer me up. One time, she told me I was too handsome to go around frowning. Girls will fall in love with your smile if you share it with them, she’d said. Her saying that made me smile and forget how sad I’d been. I told her she was the best, and I meant it too.
Sadie used to invite me to her church’s youth group that met on Sunday nights. I’d always have an excuse why I couldn’t go. My Sunday nights back then were spent like all of my other nights, studying the science of selling myself short while moping around and feeling sorry for myself. Then, one Sunday afternoon, I hit the bottom and decided to call up my good friend as a rescue line.
I stopped skipping stones into the lake. Putting my hands in my blue jeans pockets, I just started smiling at how beautiful my life is now. God bless Sadie and what she did for me. She’d been my guardian angel, posing as a human being. Saints come in all shapes and sizes. She was seventeen, a saint, and a lifesaver. Sadie helped lead me to the light. The darkness wanted me, but I woke from my nightmare and knew in my heart that I no longer wanted the darkness. That’s why I made the phone call that changed my life.
My hands were shaking so violently I could barely dial the number to contact Sadie. I’d been crying. But in that moment, I was all out of tears. She picked up, and she could hear in my voice that something was terribly wrong. “Calm down, Jonah,” she told me. Then, she asked what was going on. I told her I was a meaningless person in a meaningless world. I told her everything sucked and that she was my only friend who really got it.
“I just want to die tonight,” I told her, “because I’ve been depressed for so long.”
Sadie started telling me she loved me. She told me life wasn’t meaningless. “You’re made in the awesome image of an awesome God,” she told me. “Come to youth group with me just once. You’ll meet some really incredible folks there who’ll care about you as much as I care about you. Jesus is more than the cuss word some people use Him as! Come to the church with me tonight. No friend of mine is leaving me behind to fall into the darkness. There is light right around the corner, Jonah. I promise you that.”
I told Sadie I’d go with her to her church’s youth group that evening. The way she said there was light right around the corner opened up something in my heart. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I was pretty sure it was something good. So, a couple of hours later, I found this old blue Gideon’s Bible in my top dresser drawer, buried under some ties. The Bible had been given to me by my grandmother when I was a little kid. I’d never read any of it, but the Bible seemed like the sort of thing all the other youth group teenagers would have with them, so I thought I’d have one ready also.
My life really is so remarkably beautiful now. I know in my heart that, out in Seattle, Sadie’s life is still beautiful too.
When I arrived at the church, Sadie was waiting for me outside, wearing her larger than life smile. She ran up to me and gave me a hug. Then she let me know the good news— that there would be pizza that evening at the youth group meeting. I was still feeling pretty low, but her smile and enthusiasm lifted me up. I smiled and told her pizza did sound pretty good. She laughed and said Jesus was even better.
The evening started with pizza, continued with board games, and ended with a Bible story message from Jesus. There were about fifteen other high school students present, and I felt like all of them had heard the story before. I don’t believe the story got to them quite like it got to me. Maybe they’d heard it too many times. But, man, the story sure did get to me.
The story was called a parable. The youth pastor explained that parables had much deeper meanings than one might understand or see if one wasn’t truly looking for the deeper meaning. This story was the parable of the prodigal son. It was a story about a father and two sons. The younger brother, after asking for a whole lot of his father’s wealth, ran away from home while the older brother stayed home. Younger brother proceeded to mess up his entire life in wild living while squandering all of his father’s wealth. When the little brother came to his senses, he decided to return home to his dad even though he didn’t believe his dad would want him back. But the father saw him while he was still such a long way away, and the father ran to him and threw his arms around him, loved him, and ordered a great celebration be thrown in his honor. When the older brother heard about his little brother returning home alive and safe, the older brother became angry and refused to enjoy the party their father was throwing. The older brother was angry because he’d never ran away from home, and yet, the father had never thrown him such a great party. The father, then, explained that he loved both sons, but that they had to celebrate because the younger son had been dead but was, now, alive again; he’d been lost, but was now found.
That parable the youth pastor told that night hit my heart harder than any other story I’d ever heard! I knew in a moment that I wanted to be like the younger son who returned home to Father God. I knew I wanted my life to turn into a great celebration. I didn’t want to pretend like I didn’t need God anymore or act like I wasn’t a miserable sinner.
Sadie could tell the story had gotten to me in the best kind of way. I held up my little blue bible to her after the youth group meeting was over, and I told her I’d be reading a lot more of this particular book. She told me the light was so much greater than the darkness. Then she hugged me like she’d never let me go.
I walked away from the lake with peace of mind and peace of heart that I carry with me everyday now, everywhere I go. I know I’ll make it out to Seattle to visit Sadie someday. We’ll have to skip some stones together and laugh as she resurrects her old robot moves. I’ll thank her for how she helped lead me to the light that saved my life. Sadie is a real Christian, and so am I now. She was my saint and my angel on earth. True friendships live forever! And by the grace of God, so will we.
About the Author
Jonathon Brooks will always be an English major at heart. He is a man about the town of Carbondale, Illinois. He owns several fancy hats and can be seen around Southern Illinois wearing them often.