Want to go fishing with us tomorrow morning, Atticus?” Jackson asked as they started down the stairs. “A bunch of us guys are going to meet out at the creek on the old Anderson place. Why don’t you bring your pole and join us?”
Atticus was a bit surprised. He really didn’t know Jackson and the guys he ran around with that well. “I’m not sure,” he said. “I had something else planned, but I’ll see if I can make it.”
Atticus had given his heart to the Lord last year after attending Sunday school for a few months with his neighbor, Austin. Atticus thought to himself, I told Austin I’d go to the Bible study with him in the morning, but this is a chance for me to get in with some popular kids at school. Besides, if I go fishing, I’ll only miss this one Bible class. Hmmm, I think I’ll give Austin a call.
After hurrying into his house a little later, Atticus went straight to the phone. “Hi, Austin!” he began. “I don’t think I can make it to the Bible study in the morning . . . Oh, it’s just that I have the chance to meet some new people . . . You could come with us.”
“No thanks, Atticus,” Austin told him. “I’ve already planned to go to the Bible study.” When Atticus hung up the phone, he thought, I know it’s important to learn more about the Lord every chance I get. But isn’t it important for me to make some new friends too? Still he felt just a little uneasy about his decision.
The next morning, Atticus made it to the creek before the others. Soon Jackson and his friends joined him to try their luck at fishing. For a short time, things were peaceful as the boys cast their lines into the creek and watched for a nibble. But a few minutes of quiet sitting on the bank was enough. T.J. Phillips slipped up behind Jackson and grabbed his pole. Jackson snatched it back and in the scuffle that followed, T.J. almost landed in the creek.
“Hey, Jackson!” T.J. shouted. “Just for that, I dare you to get one of the chickens from that farm over there and bring it here! Betcha can’t do it!”
“Yeah! You’re just chicken if you don’t!” one of the other boys shouted.
Atticus didn’t want Jackson to do it. He shook his head no at Jackson.
The boys noticed. “Chickennnnnnnnnn!” they all cried.
“Let’s get out of here, “Jackson,” Atticus said. But Jackson ignored him.
“Oh, I’ll show them I’m no chicken!” Jackson said, stomping across the bridge.
Now Atticus knew he shouldn’t be there. What would happen when the farmer found out a chicken was gone? I’m getting out of here, he thought to himself.
The other boys never noticed Atticus leave. Everyone was busy watching Jackson.
Atticus ran home as fast as he could, and headed straight for the phone. He had to catch Austin before it was too late.
“Hello, Austin! You’ve not gone to the Bible study yet?” Atticus asked, breathlessly.
“Atticus, is that you?” Austin was puzzled. “No, we were just about ready to go out the door, though. Can you come?”
“Yeah, I guess I can make it after all,” replied Atticus.
Later, as they were riding home from Bible study, Atticus told Austin about what had happened that morning.
“. . . so, going with Jackson and his friends wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be. I realized that if I’m going to be what God wants me to be, I’ll need the right kind of friends. Today it was obvious that Jackson’s kind aren’t the ones for me.”
“You made a good decision, Atticus. By coming to the Bible study, you can get acquainted with the kind of people who will help you instead of drag you down.”