The Joey Chronicles – 2 Peter / “Get Off the Sidelines!”
When Pastor John was growing up he had an imaginary friend named Joey.
These are growing up stories told from Joey’s point of view!
“Mom, I already have enough stuff in my suitcase!”
“You’ll thank me later. Just put it in that corner right – there.”
The battered brown suitcase was stuffed with shirts, pants, underwear, a belt, an extra pair of tennis shoes, a Bible, a notebook, 3 pencils, 1 toothbrush, toothpaste, 3 comic books, an alarm clock, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, swimsuit – and a square box wrapped in brown paper that made the lid bulge on one end.
Joey picked up the suitcase and his sleeping bag and staggered to the car. He was headed for summer camp at Silver Creek Falls. This was his third year and he was looking forward to the snack shop, the rubber band airplanes, the campfire, the Bible stories, the missionary, and he even had a model airplane that he was going to build that he had seen in the camp store last year.
It seemed like it took forever to get to camp that Sunday afternoon. When the car finally stopped in the dusty parking lot Joey bounded out of his seat and looked around to see if he could find any of his friends.
“Don’t forget your suitcase and your sleeping bag!” Dad said as he gave Joey a big hug.
Joey’s mom bent down to give him a kiss.
“Mom!” Joey protested and ducked his head just in time. “Oh, and you don’t need to call me like you did last year – I’ll be fine. I’m not scared like I used to be.”
Dad and Mom looked at each other with knowing smiles. “Alright Joey, we will be praying for you and you can call us anytime!”
The car pulled away and Joey headed towards the noise and laughter at the registration table.
Four days later things weren’t going so well. Joey had run out of his spending money after too much red licorice and the model he was building, he had gotten lost on in the woods on the other side of the falls, and he had even gotten scared in the middle of the night.
“I haven’t done that for a long time,” Joey said to himself. “If only I had remembered a flashlight like the other guys. And a compass. And some extra spending money and snacks.”
What made Joey feel worse is that his parents hadn’t called. He had forgotten that he told them not to bother as they stood by the car last Sunday.
That night Joey got ready for bed. He brushed his teeth and climbed up in his bunk and covered his head with his sleeping bag. He didn’t feel like talking to his friends.
“What’s a matter Joey?” his counselor asked, pulling down the cover of his sleeping bag.
Joey blubbered, “I haven’t heard from Dad and Mom and I’m worried about them. All the other guys are getting calls and postcards and I think my parents must have had an accident or something.”
“OK. Let’s go to the office and you can call them so you can get some sleep.”
Joey jumped off of the top bunk into his counselor’s arms and they headed out into the crisp night air.
“Dad? Mom? Are you OK?”
“Hi Joey! We are just fine. How are you?”
“But. You didn’t call. And I was worried about you…”
“Joey, do you remember you asked us not to call you?”
Joey’s Mom took the phone from his Dad, “Yes you did, Joey. And we have wanted to call you all week! I’ve been wanting to see how you liked the care package I put in your suitcase.”
“The what?” Joey realized he had stuck that box from his mom under his bed and had forgotten about it.
His Mom chuckled, “You haven’t opened it have you?”
“Joey, I put some things in there that you might want. Like a compass for when you are hiking, and a flashlight for when it gets dark. I also put an extra five dollars and two big bags of peanut M and M’s that you can share with your buddies.”
Joey suddenly realized his mom had given him everything he needed to have a great time at camp and he had been too stubborn and proud to even look in the box she had packed for him.
“Uh, thanks Mom. And Dad” Joey soon hung up and headed to bed with a smile on his face and a happy heart knowing this was going to be a great week after all. No more sidelines for him – he was going to get back in the game and enjoy every minute of camp that he had left!
In 2 Peter 1:3,4 Peter says that Jesus has given us everything that we need to have a successful life – as long as we keep getting to know Him better and keep growing closer to Him instead of trying to pull away. And opening that Bible is just as important as opening a box at camp – there is everything in there that will give us life and peace and hope. Along with a good handful of peanut M and M’s.