The Decision

Joshua’s family was sitting around the table, passing green beans and mashed potatoes. His mom loved when everyone was home and around the table; it was her happy spot.

Joshua’s mom made sure everyone got their plates full as his dad shared his news of the day. “They finally have the scanner system in place at school. They’ve had those scanners for months, but it took all this time to figure out the logistics of getting everyone through the checkpoints. Hopefully, they have it all figured out, and it won’t gum up the works. Today I got scanned into the system. I’m now certifiably safe.”

Joshua bit his lip and then asked, “What about students?”

“They’re going to be bringing down first-period classrooms over the coming weeks to get kids into the system. It’s going to take a while, but everyone will get in,” Joshua’s dad explained.

“What if I don’t want to get scanned?” Joshua asked.

“Then, you don’t get to go to school, to work, to church, to the store, to anywhere.”

Jeremy laughed. “I don’t want to go to school. Can I not get scanned?”

“You can’t not go to school,” their mom said. “You’re going to get scanned in.”

Joshua spoke up. “But I don’t need any of those places.”

“Yes, you do,” his mom replied with a laugh.

“I don’t need school,” Joshua answered. “I can homeschool myself.”

“How are you going to do that?” his dad asked.

“I can use something online.”

“Online schools are expensive,” his dad explained, shooting down the idea.

“And,” his mom started, exposing the flaw in his plan, “you wouldn’t be able to pay for it yourself either because you wouldn’t be able to get a job without being scanned. Why are you even asking?”

“I don’t know what I think about it yet. I’ll figure out something.”

“Once the school is enforcing the scanner, it will be enforced on you,” Joshua’s dad made clear. “At some point, you’ll have to do it. It’s not optional. They are putting it everywhere. There’s no decision to be made.”

Joshua stopped and thought about it. Choice. He knew that wasn’t true. There was always a choice.

Joshua had an idea. “Christians should be homeschooling, running their own businesses, everything on their own. Then we wouldn’t need to rely on the government for any of that stuff, and we wouldn’t need to fall in line with their orders.”

His dad pointed out, “We would still be driving on government roads. We rely on the government to keep us safe with the police and military. The government regulates our utilities like electricity and our internet. It regulates businesses and even homeschooling.”

“Yeah.” His mom voiced her agreement and added, “You can’t just separate yourself from the world. It doesn’t work that way.”

Jeremy chimed in, “They talk about public health and security risks like it’s dangerous criminals getting caught by the safety scan. But, what if it’s people like Joshua that just don’t want to listen?”

Justice started laughing. “Joshua’s going to jail,” she chanted to taunt her brother.

It was Mom’s turn to bite her lip. Sometimes she and Joshua looked so much alike.

The table was quiet and then Mom pulled it together. “We’ll just have to see what comes about. Your father is in the system, so our family should be in good standing. He can take care of us. When we need to do it, we will. We don’t need to fight to be the first in line, but with the schools and stores and church starting to require it, I don’t see how we can wait that long.” Looking at Joshua, she added, “But we can wait. Then we’ll have to.”

Joshua spent the evening on the computer searching online for a free Christian homeschool curriculum and found an all-in-one program, exactly what he needed. He told Abigail about it because her family had decided to homeschool when the scanners were being installed. They talked together about the scanners.

“Why don’t your parents want you to be in the system?” Joshua asked, unsure if it really needed to be avoided.

Abigail explained, “There are Bible verses about being in the world but not of it. We’re supposed to be separate, different from everyone else.”

“Like by homeschooling?”

“It’s not about living a certain way. It’s mostly about you being different. You’re to live how God wants you to, not how the world wants you to, but that doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. It’s following God and trusting Him to lead you, like my parents leaving their business instead of being afraid and working a regular job to make sure we are provided for. It could even be like not going to a regular church in a building.”

“Why would God want that? How is going to church being like everyone else?”

“Do you ever feel like the church you are going to isn’t real? Like it’s an act, like it’s only skin-deep? Jesus loved people, but he got angry at the religious people.”

“I was just thinking about that the other day,” Joshua admitted, surprised she knew his thoughts.

“Yeah, what else were you thinking?”

Joshua wasn’t sure he wanted to let her in on that inner dialogue that nearly drove him mad with trying to figure out what he should do.

“I don’t know,” he answered, but Abigail stayed quiet, and Joshua added, “I’m just not as sure as you.”

“About what?”

“Everything,” Joshua thought. But what he said was, “The scanners and what it all means. I just don’t like that people act like they have to do it. That feels so wrong to me.”

Abigail was clearer on the issue. “People are afraid. They’re anxious and worried about everything, and they are told the scanner will bring them security. People want security. They think they can use the scanner, and it will give them peace of mind. But God tells us not to be afraid because we can trust Him. Every way that people try to bring peace and security to themselves apart from God is denying who He is. Christians shouldn’t act like that. They shouldn’t act like everyone else, trying to buy their security and peace of mind.”

“I wish I were so sure like you,” Joshua admitted. He wished Jesus would appear and talk to him, explain everything to him, and tell him what God wanted him to do. He didn’t want to let his parents down, but he especially didn’t want to let God down. He still felt like he was always doing both. He felt more and more that his life depended on knowing God and what God wanted from him, but he still felt unsure of how.

“What are you still wondering about?” Abigail asked, interrupting his thoughts.

“Everything. How do you know what God wants? How do you know the right thing to do?”

“My parents say, ‘Obey what you know.’ If we see the Father for who He is, we can know what He wants us to do. We know God tells us not to be afraid and to love others. My parents say, ‘Fear God and nothing else. Love God and everybody else.’ That tells us what we should be doing. We don’t need specific directions all the time because we have guiding principles pointing us in the way we should go.”

“I guess,” Joshua said, but he sure felt like he needed some specific directions. Only he had no idea how to get them.