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Stand Firm

1. The Bully

 

It was the first day of school for the new year. Larry, Lisa, and several of their friends we’re talking about how excited they were to be in second grade. It was hard for Larry and Lisa to share their summer adventure with their friends without sounding too prideful.

 

Just as Larry was about to walk into the school building, a boy, that looked a few years older, stopped Larry. Larry didn’t know his real name, but everyone called him ‘Herc’.

 

Herc said to Larry, “So, Adventure Boy! Are you going to be in school with us normal kids?”

 

Larry was wondering if he ignored Herc, would he go away? But Larry knew that wasn’t likely to happen.

 

Larry said, “How was your summer, Herc? Did you go on a trip?”

 

Herc said, “Of course, I did! My family always goes somewhere during the summer. But I guess I can’t tell anybody about it, because it would sound so boring compared to your trip.”

 

Larry said, “I would like to hear about your trip sometime, but it’s time to go into school, now. Maybe at lunchtime, how about that?“

 

Larry wasn’t sure, but he thought that Herc made a noise like a grunt.

 

Herc turned away from Larry and went into the school building.

 

Frank said, “Wow! That was a close one. You gotta make sure you avoid that Herc guy. He’s nothing but trouble.“

 

Larry said, “Maybe that’s what it looks like on the outside, but I’m thinking he might be hurting on the inside. I’m going to pray a little prayer for him.“

 

Frank responded, “OK. If that’s what you wanna do. We better get in. It’s time for school to start.“

 

——

 

Larry was glad that he did not see Herc in the lunch room. The younger kids had a recess time right after lunch, but the fifth and sixth graders did not. Larry thought he was OK at least until the end of the day.

 

Larry and his friends were having a really good time at recess. They continued to talk to each other about what they did over the summer.

 

Frank looked on the other side of the swing set and couldn’t believe his eyes. He said, “Larry, quick! Look over there!“

 

When Larry looked in that direction, he couldn’t believe who he saw. It was Herc.

 

Frank said to Larry, “Why didn’t you wear a disguise today? Herc is right over there. He might see you.”

 

Larry said, “Why is Herc on the playground? He can’t still be in fourth grade, can he?”

 

Frank said, “I guess he must be. He looks like a giant. I wonder how old he is, and how many times he failed a grade.”

 

Larry said, “I forgot to bring my sling and stones to bring down the giant.”

 

Frank said, “I’m not sure that would actually work with Herc. He looks a lot bigger and meaner than Goliath.”

 

Larry said, “You know I was going to pray for Herc. And I did. I also asked God to give me some ideas about how I was supposed to deal with him.”

 

Frank asked the obvious question, “So, what did God say was the strategy to deal with Herc?”

 

Larry responded, “God reminded me of the scripture that says that I should love everyone, even my enemies. I think that covers Herc.”

 

Frank said very sarcastically, “I am not sure about that! Herc may be in a category all by himself.”

 

Larry said, “He might be! But I still think that God wants me to include him in the general description of who I am supposed to love.”

 

Frank said, “Yeah. I’m sure you’re right. But what are you gonna do?”

 

Larry answered. “I also remembered a scripture that says something like this: ‘Open your mouth, and I will put the words in your mouth.’ “

 

Frank said, “I hope you’re right. Here comes Herc.”

 

When Herc walked, the ground shook all around him. At least that is the impression that most of the younger kids had.

 

Herc had a very vindictive look on his face. Larry wasn’t quite sure what ‘vindictive’ means, but he heard it someplace. If anybody asked him, Larry would say that he thought that it was a very appropriate word for Herc.

 

Herc got really close to Larry. He was so close that Larry could smell his breath. Larry wasn’t sure what Herc had for lunch, and he wasn’t going to ask him.

 

Larry said, “What’s up, Herc? Would you like to tell me about the trip that you went on this summer?”

 

Herc wasn’t just big. He was also nasty. Herc turned around and spat on the ground. Larry thought that was supposed to be something to make him feel scared.

 

Herc said, “I had a fantastic time on my trip this summer! I don’t even wanna waste my time telling you about it.“

 

Larry said, “That’s OK. If you change your mind, just let me know.”

 

Herc did another one of those funny grunts that he did before school started. Then he turned around and walked away.

 

Larry was thinking that Frank wasn’t breathing the whole time that Herc was standing next to them.

 

Larry said to Frank, “I think you can breathe now.”

 

Frank said, “I have seen a lot of amazing things before. But this has to be the real topper! Why would Herc walk away from you? It’s obvious that he wasn’t afraid of you.”

 

Larry said, “I opened my mouth, and God put the words in it.”

 

Frank said, “I’ll have to think on that one some more. Oh, it’s time to go back to class. Recess is over.”

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