One evening when I was about sixteen years of age, my brother and I decided to drive into the city for a dance that had been advertised all over town. Neither one of us knew anyone there, but we were ready for an adventure. I soon asked someone to dance and was almost immediately beset by a bully who was angry because I was dancing with his girlfriend. A crowd of spectators began to gather, anxious to see what would happen. Curiously, my brother who was in another part of the dance hall was also surrounded. I could see from my vantage point that he was being taunted as well, although I soon lost sight of him because of my own predicament.
As I stood there observing the storm of a puffed-up ego and vengeful eyes, I decided that I could neither comply with the bully's demands nor reduce myself to his hatred, so I made a conscious choice to be calm, silent, and erect with my hands at my side. Although I was frightened, I leaned on God to keep me safe - unimpressed by visual appearances and animal propensities. I determined that I must not succumb to causeless terror. This seemed to inflame the bully even more, for he jockeyed back and forth, shouting profanities and making demands. By this time, the spectators were holding me in a tight circle.
Seeing that his attempts at provoking me
had failed, he rushed at me and landed a blow to my stomach with
all of his might. Under normal circumstances, that would have
taken my breath away, but instead, I just watched as his fist
entered and left my body. In that instant, I knew that God was
there. Having my body punched had no more effect on me than the
stretching of a rubber band.
I felt nothing at all and continued to stand erect and still. The man was at first dumbfounded; then he became fearful because
I did not buckle at his best effort. His face was now red with rage, and he pulled out a switchblade, proclaiming to me and the onlookers that he would deal with me outside. Then he fled out the door into the darkness to await my arrival.
The group dispersed, and I was left alone.
I sat on the sidelines of the dance hall praying the Lord's Prayer
with all my might so that
I might understand my place in His care. I was impressed with the idea that Our Father included both this man and me.
After about fifteen minutes, another man who had been an observer during the crowd scene walked up to me to affirm, "You're not afraid of him are you!" I said, "No." At the time, this was only partly true, but that was the answer that came out of my mouth. "You come with me, and I will keep you safe," the man said with assurance.
Soon my brother showed up, and as the three
of us exited the building, the man shouted a warning, "Don't
touch these guys, or you will have to deal with me!" He walked
us to our car and disappeared into the night. As we pulled out
of the parking lot,
a car followed us and trailed very closely for several miles, eventually turning back toward town. As we continued toward home, my brother and I did not talk about what had happened, but I felt that we had witnessed a guardian angel.
I realize now that what I needed was not
a bodyguard but a Christ messenger who spoke in a language that
even a bully could understand. God has sent a light into the world,
an interpreter that is available at every level of consciousness.
George Denninger ©