Give Your Heart
The grass was slightly wet, making slender impressions crisscross themselves over the palm of the hand that Brock had on the ground in front of him. The warm sun was shining on him and a small butterfly flew past his head, but Brock Kelley didn't notice these things. He didn't notice the people around him, or anything. Both of his eyes were on the teacher of his Bible class, who was standing in front of him with an open Bible. Today's subject was surrender.
"Do you realize how much Jesus gave for you?" His teacher's voice was clear, strong, and filled with love that testified to his firm belief in what was being taught. "Jesus Christ left heaven in all it's glory, He came to a filthy world filled with sinners, then He gave His life. Jesus gave absolutely everything that He possibly could. So why is it that we always hold back when He asks us to give Him something? Why do we give nothing to Him who gave everything?"
Brock struggled to hold back the tears that had suddenly jumped to his eyes. What's wrong with me? I never cry over this stuff.
"What are you holding back from God today?" his teacher continued. "Maybe you don't know God as your personal Savior yet. He gave so much for you, but you don't want Him to be in your life. You're holding back your life from Him in the fact that you're not surrendering to make Him your Savior. Or maybe He is your Savior, but you don't want to give Him your entire life. You want to be in control, not give everything over to Him. Maybe it's a specific thing, like a movie, or your music, or your time. Whatever it is, God is asking for it today. He's asking you to surrender it to Him and put Him in control."
There was a rustle next to Brock and he looked over to see Matt standing up slowly. He couldn't understand it, but he didn't want his friend to be stupid today. Brock didn't usually pay much attention in Bible class and neither did Matt, but something about today's lesson had grabbed Brock's complete attention. Please don't interrupt, Matt. Not today.
Brock's thoughts were stopped dead when he saw a tear roll down his friend's face.
"Guys?" Matt looked around the large group of students seated on the grass around him, then he looked up at their teacher. "I am so sorry." He cleared his throat, then continued. "I only came to this school 'cause I got kicked out of my old one. My dad-" he paused suddenly, getting a weird look on his face when he mentioned his dad. "Uh, my dad thought that if I went to a Christian school maybe my attitude would get better. Well, um, it really didn't. But God's showed me that I need to give my life to Him. I've never accepted Him as my Savior, and I want to do that right now, if that's ok with y'all."
Brock was just staring up at his friend with wide eyes. This was Matt Prater! Matt, who always made jokes during Bible class. Matt, who was constantly arguing with his dad. Matt, who had openly told Brock that he thought "religion" was just plain stupid. Matt wanted to be saved.
A huge smile came onto the face of their teacher, Mitch Watkins. "You know that the Bible tells us 'All have sinned and come short of the glory of God', right Matt? Do you understand that you're a sinner?"
"Yes I do, sir."
"And you realize that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, then rose again?"
"Romans 10:13 says 'For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' Do you want to call on God and ask Him to be your Savior now?"
"I would like to do that."
"Go ahead, Matt."
With more tears running down his face, Matt bowed his head and closed his eyes tight. Many of the students bowed their heads as well, while some just watched with wide, and many tear-filled, eyes.
"God," Matt began softly, "I know I'm a sinner. I've done lots of things I know I shouldn't have. And I've heard a lot about how you sent your Son to die for me. Thank you so much for doing that, God, and thank you for dying for me, Jesus. Please God, forgive me for all those sins that I've done. Please come into my life and save me. Thank you so much. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Everyone looked up, and Matt looked around at the other students. Brock was amazed just by looking at him. There was no bitterness or sarcasm in Matt's face, like Brock was used to seeing. Matt looked completely humbled and submissive, and as he looked around at his friends he looked repentant. "Guys, I am so sorry. Mr. Watkins, I've goofed off in school, please forgive me for that. And I know several of you have come to my house before. Brock, you've been over there, and you too, Bobcat and Zach. I know I disrespect my dad and I listen to music I shouldn't. I've watched some tv shows I shouldn't have while you guys were over there, too. Please forgive me, you guys."
Matt sat back down on the grass and looked over at Brock. "I'm sorry, man."
Brock nodded, but he was still just amazed. Before he could think, Bob Duke stood up. He started apologizing to all of his friends, and asking their forgiveness for sins that he'd done. Brock watched in amazement as other students started to ask for forgiveness, many of them crying. Three of the girls asked their teacher for permission to go talk together, and they sat down a little ways away with their arms around each other.
Mr. Watkins continued his Bible class, and often some of the students would interrupt with a question about serving God or surrendering to Him. More of the students broke into their own groups, scattered across the football field. Brock stayed in the original group, but he noticed that other students that weren't in the Bible class had started to come out of the school. Had their usual hour for class passed already?
Even more time passed. Brock couldn't keep track of it. He hadn't thought anything like this would happen here at Shiloh, but now that it was started, it didn't look like it would end any time soon. Teachers and students went back and forth between groups as almost everyone at the school came onto the field. Many were praying, crying, hugging, some were even singing softly. Mr. Watkins continued to read Bible verse after Bible verse. And no one was complaining. No one was leaving, or wishing that it would be over. Brock was almost surprised when he realized something.
He didn't want it to be over, either.
He was hanging on every word his teacher said, every verse he read from his Bible. He didn't look up or meet his teacher's eyes, but he listened hard.
"You cannot be doing God's will unless you are surrendered to do it. And God's will is the very best place you could possibly be and the very best thing you could possibly do."
Brock's hands were sweaty and it felt hard to breath. His stomach was tied in knots. "I think I need to talk to someone about this."
Did I just say that out loud?!
Everyone looked over at him. Mr. Watkins paused and nodded.
"Yeah, I do too." That was from Bobcat! This was Robert Catt, the guy who had gotten his nickname because of a fight he was in. He was one of the toughest guys on the football team, but Brock saw the sincerity in his eyes.
"All right, boys. Why don't you two go find one of the teachers, or even another group of students?"
Brock nodded. With part of him wishing he'd just kept his mouth shut, he stood up and walked away from the group with Bobcat.
"Can you believe this?" Bobcat said softly, looking around the football field.
"It's crazy," Brock agreed, almost in a whisper.
"I never really asked you this," Bobcat said, looking down at the ground. "I never really cared about this stuff before. Are you saved, man?"
Brock looked over at Bobcat in amazement. "Uh, yeah, I am. I got saved when I was, like, eight." Suddenly he felt guilty. There were so many guys on his football team, and he didn't know how many of them were saved. Like Bobcat, he had never cared. Until now. "Are you saved, Bobcat?"
Robert Catt shut his eyes tight. "I don't know, Brock. My parents told me I got saved when I was young, but I don't remember it. I'm just not sure. I really need to talk to someone about it." Suddenly Bobcat looked up and straight at Brock with tears in his eyes.
Does he mean he wants to talk to me? No way!
"Uh, I would like to help you, but-" Brock paused. Now it was his turn to get teary-eyed, but he quickly pushed the tears back. "Honestly, I just don't feel like I can. I need someone to talk with, too. But I'll help you find someone you can talk to."
Bobcat slowly nodded and the two of them started walking. Brock suddenly noticed Coach Grant across the football field, hugging Matt. The two of them left together, headed toward the parking lot.
"Can I help you boys?" Mrs. Carter was smiling kindly as she walked toward Brock and Bobcat. This was the same woman who put him in detention a couple weeks ago, but she looked like she honestly cared about helping them.
"Can I talk with you, please, Mrs. Carter?" Bobcat asked softly.
"Yes of course. Brock, are you ok?"
"Uh-" He sighed. He had to get this straight. "I need to talk to someone, too."
"Alright, come on. Let's find someone."
He walked with her for a little while. Niel Layne, the science teacher at Shiloh, was just walking down from the bleachers where he had been talking with a group of girls.
"Neil?" Mrs. Carter called quietly.
"What is it?"
"Brock Kelley needs someone to talk to. Do you have time?"
Mr. Layne smiled. "Of course. Come on, Brock."
The two of them walked in silence for a little bit, then sat down on the grass around the 50 yard line.
"So what's up, Brock? What did you want to talk about?"
"Well, uh, Mr. Watkins was talking back there about surrendering your life to God..." His voice faded. How could he say what he was feeling? He never had been good at stuff like this.
"Let's start with the basics, Brock, ok?" Mr. Layne said kindly. "First off, are you saved?"
"Yeah, I was saved when I was younger."
"Was there ever a point in time where you dedicated your life to God?"
Brock stared hard at the grass. "I can't remember a time, sir. I don't think there was."
"So do you want to dedicate your life to God today?"
"Well, that's what I needed to talk about. I really don't know if I want to or not."
"All right, Brock. Now I want to help you as much as I possibly can, but I have to know where you're coming from. If it's ok with you I just want you to tell me what's going on in your life right now, what thoughts are going through your head. How do you feel about all this?"
How do I feel?! He's gotta be joking! I never tell people how I feel about, well, anything!
"Uh..." Brock sighed. Yeah, to be honest he was "feeling" a lot of stuff right now, but he didn't known at all how to put it into words.
"Why don't you want to surrender to God?" Mr. Layne asked softly, with concern in his voice.
With one question all of the things inside Brock found words and came rushing out of his mouth.
"Why should I?! I mean I'm just in high school, it's not like I could really do anything for God anyways. I'm no great preacher or missionary or whatever. I don't want to be. I'm just a teenager, how can God use me? And if I do surrender to Him I feel like He'll just make me miserable. I want to have fun, and if He's controlling my life I'm not so sure I'll be able to. If I do His will He'll probably send me to some jungle in Africa, or just some place I won't be happy. I know he was saying Jesus gave everything for me and-" Suddenly Brock's words seemed to stick in his throat. "And I know God wants me to surrender to Him. But I don't think I want to surrender to God."
Taking a shaky breath he finally looked up and met Mr. Layne's eyes, and he saw so much sorrow in them that he was startled. The science teacher sighed as well, then looked at Brock.
"I cannot express how much my heart is breaking to hear you say this." Brock would have thought Mr. Layne was just being "preachy" and saying that because he was a teacher at a Christian school and was expected to, but the pain was truly visible in his eyes.
No way he's faking this one. He actually means it.
"I want to show you some verses before I do anything else." Mr. Layne took a small King James Bible out and started flipping through the pages.
"1 Timothy 4:12. 'Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.' Ecclesiastes 12:1a. 'Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.' You see, Brock, these verses address the first thing you talked about. You asked how you can serve God when you're only a teenager in high school, but your age doesn't matter to God. I know that there are Christian teenagers doing more for God than some Christian adults. As the verse in 1 Timothy says, don't let anyone look down on you because you're young, but be an example of Christians in the way you live your life."
Brock was silent as Mr. Layne started flipping through his Bible again. "Psalms 37:4. 'Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.' Philippians 2:13-15. 'For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.'
"Brock, your thoughts about God's will are fairly common, but incorrect. The first verse I read to you, the one in Psalms, tells us that God will give us the desires of our heart."
"You mean He'll give me the things I want?" Brock interrupted.
"Yes, but we can't ignore the first part of the verse, Brock. It says to delight yourself in God, then He will give you the desires of your heart. You have to be delighting in God, serving Him, doing what He wants. Then, if your desires are honoring to Him, He will bless you and give you those things. But Brock, you have to understand that if you're in God's will you will never, ever be miserable. His will is the best place you possibly could be and if you're doing it you will be happier than doing anything else."
"But I have things I want to do with my life!" Brock exclaimed. "What if God doesn't let me do those things?"
"Then it's not His will and those things weren't what He wanted for you."
"But that's not fair!"
"God will never cheat you of anything that's good for you, Brock. He will always do what's best. But you have to understand. Christianity doesn't involve giving only the things you want. It's all or nothing."
Brock groaned a little bit and held his head in his hands. He could remember getting hit by a huge guy in a football game a couple years ago. He felt liked he's just gotten hit by him again, but harder. It was hard to breath, hard to think.
It's just hard.
He felt like two different people. There was the normal Brock, that everyone saw these days. That was the part of him that wanted to stay like he was, with his music, his movies, his lifestyle, and the things he wanted to do with his life. Then there was the saved Brock. The Brock that desperately wanted to do God's will, and to live for God, like he hadn't been for a long time. The two sides to him were fighting, like he was having an argument with himself.
You need to do God's will, Brock. How can you not?
What about all the stuff you want to do? All the stuff you like? You know you have music and movies you would have to give up. You'd have to start getting up earlier so you could do your devotions. You'd be miserable.
You'd be so much more joyful than you are now.
"Brock? Are you all right?" Mr. Layne's voice cut into his thoughts. Brock looked up again. There was the science teacher, sitting on the grass next to him, still holding his Bible. Brock looked around the football field again. This was the place they battled it out on Friday nights. Now there were battles being fought all over it, in small groups of students. These were God's battles.
"Are you all right?" Mr. Layne asked again.
Honestly? My battle's tearing me apart.
"Can you pray for me right now, sir?" Brock said softly, almost before he'd realized that he said it. His words just sort of came out. "I know I can get this straight inside of me right now. Please just pray."
Mr. Layne nodded, put his hand on Brock's shoulder, bowed his head, and began to pray silently but fervently.
Brock thought of trying to pray as well, but he began to look over the football field instead. As he looked down to the end zone his mind went back. He could practically see himself standing down there, facing Coach Grant.
"I wanna see you do the death crawl again. Except I wanna see your absolute best."
"What? You want me to go to the thirty?"
"I think you can go to the fifty."
"The fifty? I can go to the fifty, if nobody's on my back."
"I think you can do it with Jeremy on your back. But even if you can't, I want you to promise me you're gonna do your best."
"You're gonna give me your best?"
"I'm gonna give you my best."
"All right. One more thing. I want you to do it blindfolded."
" ' Cause I don't want you givin' up at a certain point when you could go further. Get down."
Sitting there at the 50 yard line Brock could remember slowly getting down to his hands and knees. It hadn't really been very long ago. With the blindfold on him everything had been intensified, like the feel of the grass and the dirt. His world had been narrowed to every sense other than his sight.
"Jeremy, get on his back. Now get a good tight hold, Jeremy. All right. Let's go, Brock."
Brock had went. He hated the death crawl. Anyone who did it knew it was the hardest drill. He kept looking down to the end zone where he had started. It almost seemed like he could literally hear it now as he relived it.
"Keep your knees off the ground. Just your hands and feet. There ya go. A little bit left. A little bit left."
"Come on, Brock."
"I don't think he'll make it."
"Let's go, baby."
"I bet he don't even make it to the thirty."
Brock could remember hearing that and determining to prove his friends wrong. That was all he had been thinking about at the beginning of the death crawl. It hadn't stayed like that for long.
"Thataway, Brock. You keep coming."
He could remember starting to get tired at about that point. Really tired. Brock turned to look behind him to the other end zone.
I really went that far?!
"Am I to the twenty yet?"
"Forget the twenty. You give me your best. You keep going. That's it."
Reliving all of it, he could feel his arms start to literally ache, remembering how much it had hurt, how hard it had been. When he was doing it he had forgotten anything his friends had said. He just kept going. Snatches of the things Coach had said were running through his mind.
"You gotta keep moving, let's keep moving. Let's go. Don't quit till you got nothing left."
He didn't know what had made him keep going. He just did. There had been something inside of him, pushing him on. He hadn't given his best in anything for a long time before then. Coach Grant had stayed right by him, constantly urging him on.
"That's it. You keep drivin'! You keep your knees off the ground. Keep drivin' it! Don't quit till you've got nothin' left."
Brock's eyes were slowly moving down the field, guessing at where he must have been. That day he'd gone till he thought he couldn't go further, then he had gone even more.
"Keep going. I want everything you've got! Come on, keep going!"
"Don't quit on me. Your very best! Keep drivin', keep drivin'. There ya go, there ya go."
Brock remembered Coach Grant's voice getting closer after that, right next to his head, still urging him to give his best.
"I know he's heavy."
"I'm about outta strength."
"Then you negotiate with your body to find more strength. But don't you give up on me, Brock. You keep going, you hear me? You keep going. You're doing good! Do not quit on me. You keep going!"
"I know it hurts. You keep going. You keep going."
Coach Grant's voice was echoing through his mind. Screaming at him. Pushing him. Yelling at him to keep going, to give his very best.
"Gimme your heart!"
Brock froze. That's what Coach had yelled at him.
Give me your heart. Give me your heart.
Brock's entire body began to shake with sobs as the full impact of his train of thoughts hit him. He didn't know why he had started thinking about the death crawl. Until now.
In his mind, he could see it from the beginning again, but it was different. This was a spiritual death crawl. God was there, asking if he would give his best. God was there, asking him to keep going, to not stop, to give his very best. And Brock hadn't. He didn't want to. It was hard, he was about out of strength, it burned. Any excuse to stop, to not give God all that he had and all that he was.
Give me your heart.
This was the death crawl, right now. Brock was being broken down, and so was his will. He knew he was being asked to give everything. Now was when it mattered. Now was when he had to decide if we would stop before doing his very best or give his heart.
But I can't, God. If I give you my life, give you my best, give you my heart, it'll be too hard!
Give me your heart.
That was the only command. It was echoing in Brock's mind, over and over again. He was still sobbing, and he wasn't the type of guy that cried over much of anything.
God will help you when it's hard. He will ease the weight of life's burdens. He will give you the strength to keep going. He was shocked at his thoughts, but knew they were true.
But normal, sinful Brock was still there, clinging to Brock's heart with everything he could.
You'll be miserable. It'll be too hard.
Give me your heart.
"Have my heart! Take it all, take everything!" His shaky breathing sounded loud in his ears, and it was a few seconds before he realized that he'd spoken out loud. Opening his eyes, he looked over and saw Mr. Layne. He didn't realize it, but the science teacher had been watching him for several minutes now, even as he prayed for this student who was so obviously struggling.
Now Brock looked up with tear filled eyes, but they were different than before. If he had been able to look at himself, Brock would have seen the same change in his eyes that he had seen in Matt's a few hours earlier. There was no longer any indifference or stubborn rebellion. His eyes were completely submissive now, but also filled with peace.
"Brock?" Mr. Layne said softly. "Are you all right?"
Suddenly Brock smiled. "Yes. I am. What do you do after you give God your heart, Mr. Layne?"
"You do all you can to live for Him every single day, Brock. Always remember that your heart belongs to Him."
"What about when it gets hard?"
"God never promised us life would be easy, Brock. But He does promise it will be worth it. And when it gets hard, He promises us the strength to get through it. Just be sure you always praise Him."
The corner of Brocks mouth lifted in a slight smile. That sounded like Coach Grant.
"And if we win, we praise Him. And if we lose, we praise Him. Either way, we honor Him with our actions and attitudes. So I'm asking you, what are you living for? I've resolved to give God everything I've got. Then I'll leave the results up to Him. I wanna know if you'll join me."
Brock nodded slowly, then turned to the science teacher again. "Thank you, Mr. Layne."
"You're so very welcome, Brock. If you ever need anything or need someone to talk to you can ask me."
The two of them stood up. The other groups of students were doing the same, exchanging more hugs and getting ready to go. But Brock felt like he was looking at different people all over the field. All the students he could see had the same look of humility and submission that he had seen in Matt's face, and that was on his own face and in his heart. Things were different now, and he really hoped they would stay that way.
He started walking across the field with Mr. Layne, then spotted Bobcat. Usually he didn't talk to the guy too much, but Brock walked over to him without a second's hesitation. Bobcat saw him, too, and started walking. They met half way.
"Brock, I'm saved. No doubts, just 100 sure I'm going to heaven."
Never would Brock have guessed that he would do it, but he actually stepped forward and embraced Robert Catt, who hugged back in the same friendly way. "I'm really glad you are." He stepped back again and smiled a little. "I got right with God, too."
Looking across the field and over to the parking lot, he saw Matt getting out of Coach Grant's little junky car with Coach on the other side. He sighed a little, then started walking toward them. Matt saw him, smiled, and waved. Suddenly Brock thought of something. Matt was saved! That filled him with more joy than he would have thought, and he hurried to walk over to him and Coach Grant.
He embraced Matt as well, who seemed a little surprised but also glad to hug his friend back.
"Matt, I can't even say how glad I am that you got saved today." Brock was almost surprised. He usually got really embarrassed and tried to change the subject when he was talking about God or anything spiritual, especially with Matt. But everything was so different.
"I am too, Brock. Please be praying for me, if you don't mind. I apologized to my dad about the way I treat him, but I know it's gonna be hard to adjust."
"I'll be praying for you, Matt. Be praying for me, too. I've got a lot of changes to make in my own life."
Coach Grant walked forward to them. "If it weren't for all the things I've seen today I would ask who you were and what you've done with my team captain," he said, but his eyes were kind and happy.
"Hopefully that Brock is gone, Coach. I didn't realize how much you had taught me when you had me do the death crawl. Now I do. I think it's more than either of us realized."
Grant nodded, not totally sure what his captain meant, but seeing that God was at work.
"I just want to tell you that I'm with you on your new team philosophy. I want to give God everything I have and leave the results up to Him."
"I am so glad to hear that, Brock," Grant said sincerely, his eyes getting slightly moist.
"Me too, Coach," Matt said. Grant nodded.
Brock said goodbye to Coach Taylor and Matt, planning to meet his friend later on that night so he could tell him more about what God had done. Before leaving the football field, he stood at the end zone and looked across the field again. It was empty now, but Brock would never be able to forget the two victories he'd accomplished on it, physical and spiritual, or the other victories won for God that day.
"God," he prayed softly, but out loud, "I don't even know where to begin. I just want to thank you so much, God. You never give up on me. No matter how many times I mess up, or try to run from You, You always run after me, trying to take me back, and You always forgive me. I want to stop giving up on You, God. Like I told Coach Grant, I want to give you my very best and leave the results up to You. Take my heart, God. Take everything. It's Yours. Just give me the strength to always give You my very best. I love You so much. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Brock sighed. Life was a death crawl. He would have to give God his best every second of it. It would be hard. It would get heavy. It would burn. He would feel like he was about out of strength. But then he smiled.
God would help him when it was hard. He would help carry it when it was too heavy. He would help with the pain when it burned. He would give the strength.
"Look up, Brock. You're in the end zone."
Coach Grant's words came back to him. Those were the first words he'd heard after he'd collapsed, after he'd given everything he had. Relief was the best word he could think of for how he had felt when he heard them. Relief, disbelief, and joy.
He could feel the same emotions right now, but they were so much more powerful and lasting. And he could feel peace. God's peace, that was better than anything the world could offer. When he got to heaven, he wanted nothing more than to hear God say to him:
"Well done, good and faithful servant."
He smiled a little bit.
I guess that's God's way of saying: "Look up Brock, you're in the end zone."