No Rules

By Linda Porter Carlyle

Hannah Maria Estevez caught the red rubber ball Pastor Chuck tossed her. “OK, class,” he said with a grin. “The weather’s beautiful! We’re going outside for a while this morning.” He opened the Sabbath School room door.

Everyone jumped up. “What are we going to do with the ball?” Trevor asked.

“You’ll see in a minute,” Pastor Chuck assured him.

The class followed Pastor Chuck down the hall and into the bright sunshine. He glanced back over his shoulder at the kids trailing after him. “I feel like a mother hen!” he teased.

Pastor Chuck stopped on the sidewalk at the side of the church. “Here we are,” he said. “We’re going to play Two-square. Everybody line up over there on the lawn.” He pointed. “Hannah, you and I can be first.”

Hannah stepped into one of the chalk squares already drawn on the walk.

“Do you know how to play?” Pastor Chuck asked.

Hannah nodded. “I play all the time at school,” she answered. Two-square was one of her favorite games. She was good at it! Hannah bounced the ball to begin the game.

Pastor Chuck did not bounce the ball back. He caught it. He whirled around and threw it to Mac who was standing in line. “Go!” he shouted. “Go!”

Mac clutched the ball against her stomach and looked bewildered. “Go where?” she asked.

“Run! Quickly!” Pastor Chuck shouted. “Go tag the tree over there!”

Mac looked across the lawn. “Tag the tree?” she repeated, not understanding.

Pastor Chuck flapped his hands at her. “Yes! Hurry up! Run!”

Mac was mystified, but she obeyed. She held the ball and ran across the grass, tagged the tree, and ran back.

“Throw me the ball!” Pastor Chuck ordered. “Throw me the ball!”

Mac did.

Pastor Chuck bounced the ball three times in his square, and then jogged in a circle around the whole Two-square game. Then he passed the ball to Hannah.

“Don’t just hold it!” Pastor Chuck exclaimed. He watched Hannah’s mouth open, but didn’t give her time to say anything. “You’re out!” He motioned to Trevor. “Your turn!”

Hannah’s face grew red, and she stared at the ground. What was Pastor Chuck doing? She had never played a Two-square game like this before! She walked out of the square, embarrassed, and gave the red ball to Trevor.

“OK, Trevor, throw me the ball!” Pastor Chuck squatted down like a baseball catcher. “Come on! Come on!” He clapped his hands together.

Trevor tossed the ball.

Pastor Chuck caught it, leaped up, and kicked it wildly across the grass. “Go! Get it!” he shouted at Trevor. He turned his head and looked at the line of children. “Quick! Go catch Trevor!” he told Joseph.

“Do you want me to tag him?” Joseph asked, poised to run.

“Of course not! Grab him! Hold on to him!” Pastor Chuck said impatiently.

Joseph shook his head. He did not understand this game at all, but he did what he was told. He ran across the grass and grabbed Trevor around the waist. “Now what?” he called as Trevor struggled to get away.

“Do whatever you want!” Pastor Chuck shouted.

The class members stared at each other. Joseph dropped his arms. Trevor straightened his shirt and picked up the ball that had slipped out of his hands. Mac asked the question that was on everybody’s mind. “What are we doing? This isn’t how you play Two-square!” Her red curls bounced in indignation.

“Sure it is!” Pastor Chuck insisted. “It’s the way I play it. I can play anyway I want to!”

“No, you can’t! No way! You have to go by the rules!” different kids called out.

Pastor Chuck frowned and leaned back against the side of the church building. “Why?” he asked, folding his arms.

“Because if you don’t play by the rules, the game doesn’t work!” Trevor explained.

“And nobody knows what they’re supposed to do!” Mac put in.

“And it’s not any fun!” Hannah added softly.

“Hmmm,” Pastor Chuck murmured. “Maybe you’re right. How am I supposed to learn the rules?”

“You ask people who know how to play!” one kid called out.

“You read the rule book!” Joseph answered.

“Let me get this straight,” Pastor Chuck said. “You guys don’t think we ought to play unless we play by the rules? You think the rules are important?”

Suddenly Hannah got a glimmer of an idea. “I know what you’re doing!” she shouted. “You’re trying to show us that rules are important!” Her face turned even redder as Pastor Chuck beamed at her.

“Exactly!” he said and gave her a high-five. “You got it!” He looked at the rest of the class. “If it’s important to know how to play a silly game correctly,” he said, “don’t you think it’s much more important for us to know how to live our lives correctly?

“And God is too good to have just dropped us on this planet and not told us how to live,” he went on. “He didn’t leave us alone to bumble along and make up our own rules as we go along and hope we get it right!”

Pastor Chuck gestured for Trevor to toss him the ball. He grinned. “Let’s go back to the classroom, and crack open our Bibles, and discover some of those things God has told us so we can be winners in this game of life!

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