Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Standing Against the Odds

Yesterday's tragic shooting at Virginia Tech has prompted me to post a Case study I wrote a few years ago. The audience is primarily teens, but could be used with other groups as well. Lessons plans are available. This case study is copyrighted. If you wish to use this material please email me--include the name of your group and the setting in which you wish to use the study. I will send you a complete document, including lesson plans, that may be used one time with a small group. All other use is prohibited.

Standing Against the Odds
Study of “David and Goliath” 1 Samuel 17:8-50

~Jefferson High~

Jefferson was a typical high school. Students milled about, tending to social duties before first period. Everyone consumed with the complications of young love, raging hormones, and avoiding the watchful eyes of homeroom teachers. Students trying to fit in. Students trying to break away. All trying to figure out who they are and what their purpose in life is. Asking themselves: What choice do I have?


Looking at her, Mariah was not unlike the other students, even if she was barely over five feet tall. She wore the popular hip hugging jeans paired with a baby tee emblazoned with a smiling yellow sponge. She carried a bright pink cell phone in her leopard print bag. Everyday afterschool she attended volleyball practice and left in a battered blue Honda that once belonged to her older brother. After practice she rushed across town to her part-time job at the Beanery.

But there was something about Mariah that set her apart from her peers. She was a Christian. Not an Easter-morning-go-to-church kind of Christian. Not a “going to church cause her parents do” kind of Christian. She was a Bible carrying, church attending, friend evangelizing, Jesus freak. Her faith loomed large about her. Her friends knew. Her teachers knew. Her classmates knew.


Steve, on the other hand, would try anything once. And honestly? If it didn’t kill him the first time, he would probably try it again. The more he looked for pleasure and happiness the less he found. He grew to hate everyone around him, almost as much as he secretly craved to be loved and accepted by them.

Tipping the scales at 250 pounds he had been scouted by the football coach, but Steve dismissed the notion, complaining the coach’s demands were too outrageous. School work, responsibility and teamwork held no appeal for Steve.

If he stopped to look back, which he never did, he would remember that he had been very well liked--even popular--until his freshman year. The year his dad died. Six months after that, his mom remarried. And every week since, Ron, his stepdad gave him a $100 bill and said, “Find something to do.” Ron preferred the nights when Steve didn’t come home at all.


Steve and Mariah didn’t run in the same circles. Once, he made a pass at her, in his way. Then stood aghast when she replied kindly, politely even, to his lewd suggestions. Later he cornered her by her car and asked “Why ain’t you like other girls?”

“I think I am.”

“Nope. You ain’t.”

“Steve, I live my life for the Lord. His expectations aren’t the same as yours.”

He laughed at her.

Steve knew the stories about this so-called God. His dad prayed every day, insisted on regular church attendance, and cried out to God in his final hours. Why would a loving God take such a man away?

He also knew Mariah wasn’t the only fool to believe in this fantasy. With an almost submissive spirit, he knew what he would do.

~The Choice~

Mariah and her friends sat whispering in the library, cheerfully making plans for the football game on Friday night. Their conversation barely slowed when they heard the first commotion in the hall, but the noise grew louder. And suddenly, someone was screaming.

The three girls stood and started toward the library’s double doors. The screaming multiplied. Students ran. A tall figure appeared in the half glass of the library doors and they caught a glimpse of a rifle swinging.

Frozen by terror they watched. The rifle crashed through one of the panes and the girls whispered desperately to each other. “Get behind the books!”

The doors burst open just as Mariah’s pale gold curls disappeared behind a low shelf. Shots ripped through the room. Mariah covered her head as books, torn from their shelves, rained down on her head.

The librarian tackled a freshman near the office.
The two crashed to the floor and seconds later the office door was barricaded. Steve ignored them. He had seen the one he was looking for.

He called her by name, “Mariah?” He smirked. “I know where you are. If you'll stand before me, I’ll let your friends live.”

She remained quiet and calculated her chances of changing positions. It’s only about ten feet to the sophomore hall entrance. Maybe--

Before she decided he stood over her. “Stand up!” he ordered. The gun trained on her. “There is only one way out, for you and your God-lovin’ friends.” She remained where she was, tears streaming down her face. “Stand up!” he yelled.

Her vision blurred. She forced her shaking legs to support her and dragged her eyes to his. He accepted this and continued: “Admit there is no God.”

Neither moved. No one spoke. The library was silent.

After a few moments he asked, “Is there a God?” but his meaning was still clear: deny God and she may live, stand for her faith and she would die.

What choice did she have?

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