Devon couldn’t sleep for a week after that last counseling session. The words that Pastor Benson had said were playing through Devon’s mind like a tape recorder, rewinding over and over again.
When Kevin called him on Saturday night and invited him to go to the club with him, Devon knew that it was just what he needed. As usual when he got there he met up with one of his girlfriends, and they danced for a while, had a couple drinks, and decided to go to her apartment. Before they got in the door he started kissing her neck. She turned around and kissed him on the lips while at the same time fumbling for the key. When she finally managed to get the door open they clumsily made their way to the bedroom. They had just started removing their clothing when Devon suddenly thought no, not again, and then he stopped fumbling with her clothes and, still breathing heavily, he said, “No, I can’t.”
“Can’t do this.”
“Can’t do what, Devon?”
“Can’t sleep with you.”
Devon sat up on the bed and started buttoning his shirt. Then he looked at the girl, ashamed that for a moment he couldn’t even remember her name, and he said, “I can’t keep doing this -- having sex with girls that I barely know, or even don’t know at all, and then in the morning just leaving. I am sorry, but I got to go.”
Devon rushed out of her apartment without looking back.
It was 1:00 in the morning but Devon needed to talk to Pastor Benson. When Devon got home he dialed directory assistance and got Pastor Benson’s home number. As the phone rang Devon became increasingly nervous. When by the third ring there was still no answer, Devon was about to hang up, but then a groggy voice said, “Hello … ”
“Oh, hi, Pastor Benson, it’s me, Devon.”
“Yes, son, what can I do for you?”
“Well, I thought about what you said and … well, to be quite honest I couldn’t stop thinking all week long about what you said, so I thought if I went out to a club I would feel better like I usually do, and at the club I met this girl and I went back to her place and we started … well, you know … but for some reason this time I couldn’t do it and now I don’t know what to do. I’m so confused! I don’t know who I am anymore -- I used to love being considered a player, but now it seems that I can’t even do that right …” Tears started to roll slowly down Devon’s cheeks.
Pastor Benson was listening quietly so Devon continued. “Ever since I met Jessica she’s made me think about a lot of things in my life. And now I don’t know where to go. I have this pain in my heart and I don’t know where it’s coming from …” By now tears were flowing freely down Devon’s face. ” Please help me, please, I know it’s after 1:00 a.m. and I know you’re probably going to hang up on me, but I didn’t know where else to go or who else to talk to, my friends …”
Pastor Benson stopped him in mid-sentence and reassured him, “It’s all right, son, I’m here.”
Devon blurted out, “Will you pray with me? I’ve never prayed before but I think it’s time I started.” Pastor Benson not only prayed with Devon to be free from everything that had him bound and to except Christ as his savior, but he also spent time talking to him about where to go from that point on.
“This is your new life, son, and you are going to have to go through a lot of changes in everything you do, but there’s no need to worry; God will direct you on what to change and how to change. The most important thing to remember is that the rewards of being a Christian are far beyond the sacrifices.”
Devon said, “Thanks, Pastor Benson, for being there for me when I needed to talk to you. I’ll see you in church, okay?” The pastor heartily agreed, and soon after that they said goodbye and hung up the phone.
Devon slept like a baby for the first time in almost a week. He didn’t know what this new life would have in store for him, but he knew that he had made the right decision.
A few days after his talk on the phone with Pastor Benson, Devon went to the church bookstore to pick up a Bible. While he was looking through the selection of Bibles, he heard a tap on the window; he looked up and there was Kevin waving at him from outside. He had been dreading just such a moment ever since he’d hung up the phone with Pastor Benson. He had not taken a call from Kevin or any of his other friends. He groaned inwardly and decided he had to tell him sooner or later and it might as well be sooner. He walked out of the store and said, “What up, bro.”
Kevin said, “I haven’t seen you around in a while, not since the club the other night; where you been?”
“I’ve been around,” Devon answered casually, looking around.
“Oh yeah, looking for the honeys no doubt,” Kevin said, laughing as he took a mock punch at Devon’s shoulder.
“Well, actually I’ve been praying,” Devon replied, thinking, here it comes.
“You’ve been praying? What you mean by that?”
“I mean I’m trying to be right with the Lord.”
“You mean to tell me that you’ve become a church boy on me?” Kevin asked, unable to hide his shock.
“Call it what you want,” Devon said, disgusted with the conversation, and wondering why he was ever friends with Kevin.
Kevin sneered, “Believe me, I’ve known you since we were kids, and you ain’t no church boy.”
“I am now; I wanted a different life, Kevin. I couldn’t handle the clubbing and the different chicks every night. I mean, doesn’t it get tiring for you?”
“Oh I see what’s going on here; you been hanging out with preacher man too much. I suggest you come back to the real world my friend; this is not who you are. No matter how you talk, no matter how you dress, you will always be a player. You ain’t never gonna be anything different, so why not just accept it and enjoy life.”
“I can’t, Kevin. I am sorry, but I will pray for you.”
“I’ll see you when you come to your senses, man, because right now you talking crazy.”
“Bless you,” Devon said before walking back into the bookstore to finish choosing a Bible.
Devon prayed for all his clubbing buddies that night; he prayed that God would save them. The following Sunday they announced that a new series of Road to New Life classes would be starting soon, so Devon signed up immediately after the service. He saw another group of his friends watching him and snickering at him. Lord help me, he prayed as they passed by, and one of them called out, “Hey church boy, where is your Bible and your hymnbook?” And then another one joined in the mockery. Devon just turned his back to them and walked away without a second thought.
For the next six weeks every Monday night Devon went to baptismal preparation class. And then when it was finally time for Devon to graduate, there was to be a party before his baptism the following Sunday. He was allowed to bring two guests to the graduation party. Of course one guest would be his mother, who was thrilled about his decision to follow Christ, and he knew right away who he wanted the second guest to be: the person who had started him on this journey. Ever since Devon had gotten to know the Lord, he no longer looked at Jessica as a girl that he wanted to sleep with. In a way Devon felt that he owed Jessica his life; if it had not been for her inspiration, he would still be going down the wrong path, and this was the only way Devon knew of to repay her.
The party was to be held on Saturday. Devon went to the young adults’ meeting on Thursday night hoping to see Jessica. Finally after the meeting Devon saw her in the hall.
“Hi,” she said with a smile. “Haven’t seen you in a while; what’s going on?”
“Oh, nothing much; how about you … how is school?”
“Fine, just fine …” Jessica answered warmly.
Devon grew quiet for a moment trying to find the words to say. Just spit it out, man, he thought to himself, and then he said, “Jessica, I know you’re probably busy and you don’t have to say yes, but … you see … I’m getting baptized on Sunday, and on Saturday were having a party to celebrate. I was wondering if you would like to come.”
“Sure, I’d love to!”
“Great, great … that’s really great! It’ll be in the main sanctuary at 7:30.”
“I’ll be there, Devon. Thanks for inviting me.”
On Saturday Devon dressed in the suit he had bought for the occasion and a tie that his Mother had bought for him as a special gift. “Looking good … looking really good …” he said to himself as he looked in the mirror. About fifteen minutes later he was downstairs in the lobby waiting for his mom; even though he had a car of his own, she’d insisted on driving him to the baptismal party.
When Susan saw her son she barely recognized him all dressed up in a suit and tie, and she noticed he had a way about him that she’d never seen in him before.
“So how do I look?” he asked, turning around for his mother to get the complete picture.
“Very handsome indeed,” she responded, and then her eyes filled with tears. “I’m so proud of you … so very, very proud of you, and don’t you forget it!”
Devon kissed his mother. “I won’t,” he said smiling. “Oh, and by the way, thank you. If it weren’t for all your prayers and for sticking by me when I was being so hard to get along with, I don’t know where I’d be right now, Mom.”
“You’re very welcome, honey, and God does work in mysterious ways. I think of how you were before and I look at you now, and I am truly amazed; I still can’t believe you’re the same person I knew two months ago!”
“Well, believe it, Mom; this is the new me and I’m here to stay.”
Susan hugged Devon once more before they left the lobby.
When they arrived at the church, the sanctuary was full of parents and loved ones of the people who would be getting baptized on Sunday morning. When Devon heard his name called to receive his certificate, he walked up onto the stage with a confident stride, and while he was shaking the pastor’s hand he caught a flashback of that day a few months ago on the phone with Pastor Benson when he’d hit rock bottom. He thought about how far he had come in just that short time, and then he saw his mother and Jessica sitting in the crowd smiling proudly at him. It can’t get any better than this, he said to himself. Thank you for everything, Father, he prayed silently as he took the certificate and went back to his seat.