I Was 17 Once

I was seventeen once. Yes, it was a long time ago mind you, some thirty-six years to be exact. It was a different day and certainly a different time. I was deeply steeped in my southern, rural culture. Redneck to the bone and proud of it. So were my friends (my gang). Mess with one of us and you messed with all of us. We had our own drug of choice, it was called underaged alcohol and came in the form of “Miller Pony’s” and bottles of “Black Jack”.  There were many days that we went hunting after school or came into school after early morning hunting. Yes, our “boom sticks” were either hanging in the racks in our pick-ups or safely locked away in our trunks. I carried a “billy club” under my seat that my grandfather had helped me make from a broken ax handle. Truth be told, I did things that in today’s world would have probably given me a “rap sheet” IF I would have been caught.

I was raised by christian parents and went to church. It wasn’t their or the church’s fault. It was my own. Peer pressure was great and trying to become a man in my culture was a struggle as well. In those days I was not walking with Jesus. Thank God I was able to grow beyond 17.

I have also been falsely accused. Few reading this have not experienced this at some level or another. You likewise know what it means to do the best you can and still be accused of or blamed for far more than what was actually true. The result of false accusation is painful beyond belief and cost you and those around you. From that day forward some will always look at you through squinted eyes and raised eyebrows.

In this day and time there is so little respect for due process of law and our court systems have become a political farce with few willing to accept any decision made by it. Our society and our nation is a political tender box at present. Each side is looking for another cause to stoke the flames of their agenda whether it be Democrat vs. Republican, or race. (Both black, white and brown equally)

It’s hard to be a peacemaker when everyone demands you stand on one side or the other before they will even give ear to your words.

For some reason, a seventeen year old carrying a bag of Skittles ran into a Community Watchman. Both thought the worse of the other. Nothing good was about to happen. A terrible, horrible tragedy occurred. Murder? Manslaughter? Innocent? We all know how it turned out and I think most reasonable people realize, something still just isn’t quiet right. Maybe it wasn’t murder or manslaughter as such, but something isn’t right when a seventeen year old with a bag of Skittles is confronted by a man armed with a gun. To win the fight, the man uses a gun.

…I was 17 once. I have been falsely accused.

Somewhere in the process we must release everything into the hands of God. Only He has the all-knowing ability to discern hearts and to know the real truth of what happened. The Bible tells us one day we must all stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ. At that time all our thoughts and actions will all be judged by a holy and righteous God.

What am I saying? Some things must be left in His hands and His hands alone. Until then, Love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves and seek peace with all men so long as it depends on you.

For me, that means weeping over the whole situation. I weep for the parents and family of a 17-year-old whose life was taken far to soon. I weep for a man whom will have to live with his actions for the rest of his life, regardless of how it all came down. I weep over a nation that would rather inflame the whole issue on both sides for their own agendas than simply weep as well.

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