By Gary Piper
(Authors note: This story was written in October of 2007 for my Grandson Dylan Piper)
One bright sunny summer day Dylan and his grandfather walked along the beach as they always liked to do. Somehow the conversation shifted from small talk to more serious topics. Papa, “Why are there bad people in the world? Why do people kill each other? Why don’t parents take more interest in their children?” He asked.
At first Dylan’s grandfather was surprised at his question. As he looked out on the lake he realized the question was bigger than Lake Huron. And there was something going on inside his grandson that would make his answer important. “Wow,” he began, “Where did those questions come from?”
“Mom and dad have been talking lately about all the violence in the world, on television, and kids killing kids and how back when they were my age there wasn’t that much. I heard dad telling mom he sure wouldn’t want to be a kid these days."
After a long pause, “Sometimes I get afraid papa.”
The next few minutes were spent in silence. As Dylan’s grandfather searched for an answer deep inside he could feel a storm brewing in his own mind. Questions began bombarding him in rapid succession. What do I say? What can I say to a eleven year old boy who is afraid of life and his whole life ahead of him? Do I even know the answer myself?
“Papa, are you afraid of life?” the boy interrupted his grandfather’s thoughts.
And the storm raged robbing him of his peace. “Yes, Dylan I am and I wouldn’t be honest with you if I said I wasn’t, but I don’t let fear rule my life. Do you like to swim?” he asked.
“Boy, do I ever,” Dylan said smiling.
“Is the water a safe place?”
“You know the water holds many dangers, papa but I like to swim more than my fear of the water.”
After taking a few steps Dylan stopped looked at his grandfather and asked, “Did I just learn something, papa?”
Laughing out loud, "I hope so buddy, I think we both did. Sometimes I even surprise myself." And his storm began to subside.
As they stopped turned around and headed back Dylan asked, "Papa, What’s wrong with the world,"
Realizing that he had not really answered the first question the storm began brewing again. At that very moment a Seagull flew close and caught his attention. Suddenly he felt his foot hit something and the next thing he knew he was on the ground.
"Papa are you all right, did you hurt yourself?" Dylan asked rushing to his grandfather.
"No, the only thing I hurt was my pride. Will you look at that I stumbled over that little stone," he said pointing to a small stone about one inch in diameter.
"You sure you’re all right? You know those hips of yours cause you a lot of problems,” Dylan asked.
"Dylan sometimes you can say things beyond your age. No, I’m really okay but I do need you to help me get up. Can you give me your hand buddy?"
"Sure thing papa, here put your hand on my shoulder," Dylan said as he stooped down.
After standing up the older man looked back down at the stone. As he stared at it a strange white light glowed around it. Suddenly the letter "J" appeared, next the letter "E" appeared, next the letter "S" appeared, then the letter "U", next the letter "S" appeared, then the light disappeared. Across the stone was the word JESUS. Dylan’s grandfather bent over and picked up the stone and suddenly he knew what to say, he knew what was wrong with the world, or at least the people in it anyway.
"Have you ever heard of the Apostle Peter, Dylan?" he asked.
"Sure, hasn’t everyone," Dylan replied, "He was one of Jesus’ disciples."
Dylan’s grandfather quickly responded, "Well, not everyone has heard of him I’m afraid. Yes, he was a disciple of Jesus but he also has a couple of books in the bible named after him, 1st and 2nd Peter."
"I’ve not done much reading in the bible, papa, even though we go to church just about every Sunday and sometimes I can’t understand what the preacher says anyway," Dylan interrupted.
"I’m sure going to have a talk with your parents about getting you a bible just for kids. But anyway as I was going to say in the first book he wrote about Jesus being a stumbling stone for people. It’s kind of like me just now, as I walked on the beach I stumbled over this stone and fell. Jesus is constantly in the path of everyone and when they are distracted by something or someone they trip and fall. Can you understand what I’m saying, Dylan?"
"I beginning to papa." he responded.
"In life we all make choices based on what we see or feel. God wants to us choose Him and His way of life so he places Jesus in our path to show us how to live. But when we look at other things like money, what someone else has that we want, like being the most popular kid in school, or being better than anyone else we fail to see Jesus and we trip over him. Is it getting any clearer?"
"I think so, there is bad things happening in the world because people are not looking on their path to pick up their Jesus Stone so they won’t stumble and do bad things," Dylan said smiling. "Did I get it right, papa?"
"You sure did little buddy, that doesn’t really make all the bad things go away and life is still dangerous because so many people stumble and fall. But if you learn the lesson of the Jesus Stone then the world will be a better place because of you and maybe you can make a difference in someone else’s life. Quite often, Dylan, Jesus will disguise himself as you and you may become a Jesus Stone in someone’s life. If that happens remember it is Jesus they stumble over not you and if Jesus prays and forgives them, you need to do likewise. Do not let them be a Jesus Stone to you, Okay?"
"You mean yesterday when Bobby hit me and knocked me down, he really hit Jesus?"
"He sure did, Bobby was the one that got hurt not you. Well there’s the car. Here before I forget take this stone and put it in your pocket and keep it. Let it be your Jesus Stone, and a constant reminder for you to always look to him and try to understand why the world is the way it is."
"Okay papa race you to the car. Hey, wait a minute I saw you pick up this stone back there on the beach, right?"
"You sure did."
"Then how did you get Jesus’ name printed on it," Dylan questioned his grandfather.
"I didn’t put it there!"
"Who did," Dylan asked.
"That Dylan is a mystery, or a miracle. But I’d venture to guess it’s an autographed Jesus Stone!"
"You really think Jesus himself put his name on this stone, papa?" Dylan replied.
"I sure do, partner. Hang on to it someday you can give it back to him. Now, you want McDonald’s or Burger King?"
"Pizza, I want a pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut. Let’s race, papa and don’t let me win," Dylan said taking off running.