“So what are you, Mr. Holier than thou?” quipped the curly-haired teenager sharply. Ian Langley, the lankiest of the group that stood around the lockers at Wellsboro High School, calmly answered. “No Matt, it’s just that...well... I don’t want to drink anymore. I told you, I have changed now.” The third boy spoke up and while he did, he playfully punched Ian on the arm. “C’mon Ian, be cool man. A few drinks never hurt anybody. Didn’t Jesus turn water into wine?” Steve’s wavy hair hung sloppily over his eyes. Ian’s thoughts drifted quickly. He had changed. Just three days ago, the fifteen year-old had surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. The boy knew when he was presented with the good news of the gospel, that he had a choice to make. That night as he heard the preacher, Ian was convinced that he was in trouble, that he was a terribly sinful person and that he deserved the judgment of God. He recognized like never before, that many of the things that he had done; the drinking, the swearing, occasional stealing, all were wrong in the eyes of God. Feeling like he was under God’s wrath, the youth decided that he needed to get right with God and also that he wanted a better life, a changed life. The preacher said that anyone who turned to Christ sincerely would have a new power over sinful habits and practices. And Ian knew that he was tired and ashamed of the late nights, the bullying others that he and his friends did, the shoplifting and the drunkenness that took place two or three nights a week. So Ian believed what the preacher read from the Bible, believed that he was wicked and sinful and that he was headed for eternal punishment and lastly, believed that his only hope was in the Lord Jesus Christ who shed his blood on the cross for Ian’s sins. That evening, the young man became a Christian in the true sense of the word, and he understood that he was to follow Christ and do what pleased Him. Strangely, at the moment he believed, the desire to ever drink alcohol again immediately left the teenager, and that was surely his most prevalent sin.
Ian was startled by another sensation of pain in his arm. “Well buddy, at least answer us. Are you in dreamland or what?” Ian looked aggravated at Steve who punched him and said softly to all of them, “No, I am not going out tonight guys. Sorry, I am not interested in drinking anymore or going to any more parties.” Matt instantaneously rolled his eyes. :What a fool! C’mon Steve, forget it, this guy is lost! You think you know somebody for years and then they turn their back on you. Let’s not waste our time on this jerk anymore!” The two of them started to walk away when Steve stopped and moved closer to Ian, only inches from his face. His irritation was evident. “What happened to you Ian, did’ya get brainwashed or something? Did ya join the Religious Freaks Club? What happened?” The frazzled boy glanced unconsciously at the floor as he thought for a few seconds, then responded, “I became a Christian the other day Steve...I really did...and I don’t know how to explain it...but I know that parties and the bars are not where I belong anymore.” Curiously, the other youth stared back. He had never heard anything like this before, it just made no sense to him. Pondering over his friend’s words, the wavy-locked teenager shook his head, then slowly walked away. Sure that he had made the correct choice, Ian gathered together his necessary books and left for home.
It was now ten o’clock; midnight was just around the corner. Ian was home with his mother, who had been sick for days with the flu. The young man was turning off the dishwasher when he heard his mother call for him from the next room.
“Ian, I’m out of medicine! I know it’s late, but could you run up the drug store and get a prescription filled for me?” Smiling, the boy came around the corner and grabbed his jacket from the hall closet. “Sure” he said, “I would be glad to.” His mother lay on the couch, wrapped in a heavy blanket. She coughed painfully, then eyed her son suspiciously. “What has come over you tonight Ian?” the ill woman asked as she handed Ian a slip of paper. “First, you tell me that you are not going out with your friends, then you clean the kitchen and do the dishes and now you say you don’t mind running an errand for me?” Mrs. Langley leaned up slightly and raised her eyebrows. “Did you get in trouble at school today?” Ian smiled again as he reached the front door. “No mom,” he said, feeling good that for once he was being honest with his mother. He sadly remembered the numerous times that he lied about where he was going or what he was doing. That clear conscience that Ian sensed right now was a new experience and he would not trade that for anything! “I’ll talk to you when I get back mom, and no, for once it’s not bad news.” Now smiling herself, Ian’s mother sat back
with a relieved look as her son left the house. As Ian got about halfway to the 24 hour drug store, the silence of the night was suddenly interrupted by the high-pitched sound of screeching tires. And the car belonging to those tires was increasingly getting closer!
The maroon sports car, complete with stripes down both sides, turned the corner sharply and increased speed. The driver must be crazy! As the vehicle literally roared by him, the teenager quickly stepped up onto the farthest edge of the sidewalk. The hot rod whizzed by, going what seemed like 80 miles an hour! Eyes searching, Ian hoped that a police car might suddenly appear and stop this madman. But to no avail. It was then that Ian remembered! Oh no! The construction work up ahead! He looked and saw that directly in the center of the street was the large crane that the road crew had been using the last few days. Numerous orange warning cones were visible around the big vehicle, but they certainly would not hinder the dangerous machine that was now heading straight for it! Ian knew that the inevitable was about to occur and yet he could do absolutely nothing about it!
As Ian bellowed out a worthless scream of warning through the near empty street, the sports car plowed into the safety cones, sending them everywhere! Then with an enormously loud crash, the vehicle impacted with the massive crane! There was no slow motion about the scene as some recall how they witnessed certain tragic events. The hot rod had met it’s cruel fate, and that in mere seconds! The car instantly folded like an accordion! Immediately following the deafening, almost explosive, sound of the impact came the strange noise of the metal of the car literally crunching and bending!
Ian ran! He was not quite sure, but it appeared that someone was ejected from the passenger seat. As he raced past the car towards the still form that lay ahead on the concrete, Ian was startled by an unexpected shriek of pure horror! It was the driver! He was still alive, though surely not for long. The pitiful sound was one of agony...there was no other word to appropriately describe it! As Ian turned, the most likely once-popular sports car burst into flames! Within seconds, the terrified voice, sounding hardly even human, lessened in volume, and then was no more. Tears were visible in Ian’s eyes. Never before had he felt so helpless, to have someone die right in front of him, and in such obvious excruciating pain!
Just like that- a life is gone! Stunned, yet driven by adrenaline, the youth turned back to see if he could aid the other fellow. Miraculously as he got closer, Ian could actually see the body moving ever so slightly. The faint whine of a siren was now audible as he reached the young man that lay there and gently turned him over. It was obvious that the life of this individual was either already gone, or very nearly so. What! Steve! Steve! Oh, the indescribable pain that Ian felt throughout his entire body! To explain in detail the graphic picture as he looked upon his good friend would violate common decency. It was enough to say that Steve had only seconds left. There were enough obvious broken bones, cuts and gashes all over and certainly the poor boy had numerous internal injuries. Unbelievably however the eyes moved! Ian quickly held his friend at the shoulders as Steve attempted a hoarse and raspy breath. “Steve” cried Ian, tears streaming down his face. Nearly inaudible, the boy on the ground did his best to speak. Softly came out “Ian...Ian.” Steve’s eyes were intent and revealed an understanding demeanor, as if he comprehended the situation. “Ian” he whispered again, then coughed. Ian wiped away his tears and leaned closer. Was Steve trying to tell him something? Taking a half-breath, Steve spoke again, this time slower but clearer. “You were right Ian...you were right.” Immediately after those words, Steve almost casually lay back his head and closed his eyes. The young boy of seventeen years was dead. He had breathed his last breath in the arms of his friend. Crying uncontrollably, Ian gripped the lifeless body before him with all of his might. The shear helplessness and utter agony that he felt was beyond description. His friend that he had known for so many years had entered the next life! No doubt, he was already in that place of torment and pain! For Steve, there was no more time that could be put off, no more tomorrow on this earth. If only he had believed in the Saviour! But it was too late for if’s. Amidst the noise of the weeping, Ian heard another sound. Turning to look, the teenager saw the source of his distraction. It was a can rolling ever so slowly from the remains of the vehicle. The sound it made as it moved across the pavement was eerie to say the least. Ian, still eyeing the can, gradually lay down his friend and stood. As the boy approached the object, his adrenaline again began to flow and his emotions started to surge. His mind so attentive now to that can, Ian did not even consciously hear the distant sirens sounding closer by the second. The determined teenager bent down and retrieved the aluminum can. It was a beer can. And there was blood on it. Angrily, Ian crushed the can with all of his might, clenching his teeth as he did so. Drops of sweat protruded from the youth’s fingers. Enraged, the boy threw the can as far as he could! “I hate you!” he yelled. Lifting his voice even more, Ian actually screamed with every ounce of strength that he could muster. “You are a killer...a murderer!” It was obvious now that he was speaking to the can which happened to bear the name of a popular brand. Charged and fueled with feeling one last time, the exhausted boy bellowed out, “I hate you and i will never touch you again!” For long seconds Ian stood there motionless and surveyed the scene. Soon the ambulance appeared. Then the crowds. Not long after was the media. And through it all, the murderer escaped accusation. But there was one that night whose life was changed forever by the events of the evening. And that young man was Ian Langely.
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”
“It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.”