The following story which I wrote, was published today in The Semi, Fuller's student newspaper.
Ben, an elder at his church, was running late for the Sunday mourning leadership prayer meeting. “As always” he thought. And today he would be later still because it was his turn to pick up doughnuts. Why, he didn’t know, it wasn’t like he could eat one. Ever since his father’s death last year, due to complications from diabetes, he had been trying to diet, though it didn’t seem to be working. Just yesterday the scale had read 219, and for someone only 5’ 8”, that was too much. Ben groaned as he pulled up to the doughnuts shop, “they smelled so good!”
Sitting in the prayer meeting, with his friends happily sipping coffee and eating doughnuts, neither of which he could have since no one had bothered to make decaffe, was not a good start to the day. Later, as the worship team sang “Just as I Am”, Ben couldn’t help but smirk, “too bad that’s not what the doctor said." The sermon was titled “The Temple”, during which Pastor Dave waxed eloquent about the evils of drugs, alcohol, pre-marital sex and tobacco, concluding with a strong exhortation to help others steer clear of evil. “So even it it’s ok for you to drink, don’t, because you may be causing your brother to stumble”, Pastor Dave said forcefully. But Ben hardly listened, the craving’s for a chocolate covered, cream filled, nut sprinkled, “long john” dominating his thoughts. After church, Ben joined his wife and friends at the local eatery.
“Great sermon Dave had this mourning, no?” asked Micah, taking a bite out of his double cheese burger.
“Definitely” responded Sherry. “I’m proud to say I’ve never done any of the ‘big ones’. No one has stumbled because of me…not that I’m perfect or anything,” she added, sipping on her third refill of Coke.
Ben sat quietly, eating his small salad. He hated salad, this one in particular since apparently it had been sitting in a fridge for about a week. He longed for the day when he could have eaten like his friends, but the images of his stricken father haunted him. The juxtaposition of the burger across the table and his father’s feeding tube made him sick…and angry. “Why is our family wired this way? Why did he have to go?” his subconscious mind ranted. But in the present he just continued to stare glumly at his salad, the one with the brown edges and no salad dressing.
After lunch, the family went shopping, but feeling depressed, from what he wasn’t sure, Ben headed home to “take a nap”. The sound of the car coming up the drive awoke him to his present position, in front of the television, watching basketball, eating out of the ice-cream container. “How the heck did this happen” he thought. “O’ well, its Sunday, a day of rest…from my diet, I’ll just run an extra 20 minutes at the gym tomorrow.”
But arising early for an extra 20 minutes at the gym was not to be. Sleep didn’t come, as images of his father mixed with cravings for ‘real food’. With these in the background he pondered the sermon, and their conversation over lunch. “Was something missing” he thought, “but what?” “Why doesn’t Pastor Dave ever teach on something relevant to me?” It wasn’t until after a ‘quick snack’, that Ben finally drifted off to sleep, the clock reading 1AM. On the other side of town, Sherry slept peacefully, knowing that she was not to blame for anyone “stumbling”. Though she wondered about Ben. “Didn’t he say he was going on a diet? Sure doesn’t look like it.”
At work the next day, there were two e-mails in Ben’s inbox. “Health Insurance Will Drop Obesity Coverage” read the first subject line. The second was from his supervisor. “Free Pizza Friday” it said.