“Charlie Won’t Go”
Charlie, George and Cliff had been going fishing together since they were little boys. They all could remember walking along the dirt path to the small lake near the small town where they were raised, carrying their poles and tackle boxes to fish the day away. Most of the time, it wasn’t about fishing at all but being together and becoming closer buddies. Some guys don’t stay friends after they get older but Charlie, George and Cliff stayed good pals all the way into high school. When they could drive, they often borrowed one of their parent’s cars and went fishing at a lake a little further away. They had a tradition that when they did that, each one would take a turn picking a lake to fish at and not tell the other two until they got there.
The car rumbled along the freeway with Cliff at the wheel. It was his turn to surprise his life long pals. “I will promise you this boys.” He said as they pulled out of the driveway. “Today will be a truly unique fishing trip. Truly unique.” And he laughed a very strange laugh when he said that.
They listened to old time songs on the radio as they rode along but Charlie and George soon felt lost because they didn’t know where they were or where Cliff was taking them. “Hey Cliffy boy, you know where we are going?’ Charlie teased him from the passenger seat poking George who was in the front seat with Cliff.
“Oh I know, trust me, I know very well where we are going and what we will find when we get there.” Both of his pals just stared at Cliff when he said that because he said it in a very spooky way. Finally, Cliff turned the car off of the main road and started up a country road and then off of it on to a dirt road so his friends felt sure they must be close to this mysterious fishing spot. But then, just before they topped a very tall hill, Cliff pulled over to the side of the road, stopped the car and got out.
“Hey what’s going on Cliff?” George said getting out with Charlie right behind him. “This can’t be the place can it?”
“It’s the place.” Cliff said staring at the top of that big hill.
“But Cliff, I was looking at the map and there isn’t a lake anywhere near here. What’s going on?” Charlie asked puzzled.
“Well, first we are going to go over that hill. But we aren’t taking the car, we are going to walk.” Cliff said mysteriously.
“Should we take our rods and tackle?” George asked.
“Nope, won’t need them. Not for what we will meet over that hill.” Cliff said with a grin on his face.
“Ok, I have about had it with all the mystery Cliff.” Said Charlie angrily. “What are we going to meet on the other side of that hill?”
“God.” Was the one word answer.
“God?” both friends questioned.
“Yep, God.” Was the answer.
“Just over that hill. God is there. And what is He doing there?” George continued.
“Waiting for us. It’s our time. When we walk over that hill, we all meet God. Not in a Sunday school way. We will see him, hear him and meet him face to face. God. Just over that hill. Let’s go.” And Cliff turned to walk up to the top of the hill.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute.” Charlie touched Cliff’s shoulder to stop him from leading them to the other side. “What do you mean, ‘meet God’? Do you mean we are going to die on the other side of the hill?” he said with fear in his voice.
“Well, I don’t think so.” Answered Cliff. “One way to find out though is go over the hill and meet God. Ready?”
“No, no, no, no, no. This is crazy Cliff. People don’t just walk up to God and meet him?” George objected.
“Sometimes they do. Today we will. Come on, let’s go.” Said Cliff.
“Hold it, hold it, hold it.” Charlie complained. “Doesn’t this sound a little crazy to you? We don’t want to do anything crazy here.”
“I don’t know Charlie.” George said thoughtfully. “If God is really just over that hill, it would be crazy not to go meet him. Sure, Cliff, I’ll go, lets check it out.” And George and Cliff both started up the hill. “Coming Charlie?” George called back to his friend.
“Wait, please, wait.” Charlie said sweat bursting from his brow and tears forming in his eyes.
“What’s the problem pal?” George said as he and Cliff approached Charlie, worried about him.
“I can’t do it. I can’t meet God today!” the panic stricken Charlie said frantically. “I have, well, some sins. They are hidden. And they are bad. I can’t meet God.”
“But God knows about your sins already Charlie.” Cliff explained. “And he is ready to forgive you and offer you his friendship. It’s just over that hill Charlie, complete forgiveness because of what Jesus did for us on the cross and friendship with God. You want that don’t you, Charlie?”
“Yes, well, no, well, maybe. I don’t know. I am scared Cliff. I can’t. I am sweating. I feel faint. I might throw up. Please, don’t make me go George. Maybe next time. Yeah, that’s it. You guys go. Tell God I will come next time. When I get a chance to clean up my heart. Tell him for me. You will do that for me, won’t you Cliff? George?”
Charlie’s friends helped him find a seat on a fallen tree near there and gave him some water to help him calm down. “Ok Charlie. Sure, we will tell him. You just stay here with the car.” And at that, Cliff and George turned and walked up the hill. Charlie watched him feeling awful inside. So many questions raced through his mind. What if there isn’t another time? What if I die before I make myself right with God? He considered running after them but then they disappeared over the crest and they were gone. Charlie just put his face in his hands and wept. He didn’t have the courage to run to God’s arms and be saved and now it was too late. And all because Charlie wouldn’t go.
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”[Matthew 9:12-13]