Here once again, I am presenting a story I have not written.
However, it is so profoundly moving that, no matter how many times I’ve read it over the years, I cannot finish reading it except through tears.
Given the holiday season, I thought it appropriate to share it with you at this time.
Read and be changed!
Just so you’ll know, I am not the Steve in the story! 🙂
There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the Western United States.
Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course their freshman year, regardless of their major.
Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the Gospel to his classes, he found the majority of his students looked upon his course as little more than unavoidable drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.
This year, however, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was called to the ministry and intended to attend seminary after graduation. Accordingly, he was the best student in the class. Steve was immensely popular, strikingly handsome, and an imposing physical specimen — though he was only a freshman, he was the starting center on the school football team.
One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him.
“How many push-ups can you do?” he asked.
Steve said, “I do about 200 every night.”
“200? That’s pretty good, Steve, ” Dr. Christianson said. “Do you think you could do 300?”
Steve replied, “I don’t know… I’ve never done 300 at a time.”
“Do you think you can?” again asked Dr. Christianson.
“Well, I can certainly try,” said Steve.
“Let me rephrase the question: can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for it to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,” said the professor.
Steve said, “Well, I think I can. He mulled it over for a moment, then said, “Yeah, I can do it!”
Dr. Christianson said, “Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind.”
Friday finally arrived. Steve got to the classroom early and sat in the front row. When class started, the professor pulled out a huge box of donuts. These weren’t merely plain, ordinary donuts — they were the big, extra-fancy kind, with cream or jelly centers, frosting swirls, and sprinkles. Everyone was pretty excited: it was the final day of classes and the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson’s class.
Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, “Cynthia, do you want one of these donuts?”
Cynthia said, “Yes.”
Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you please do ten push-ups so Cynthia can have a donut?”
“Sure!” Steve enthusiastically jumped down from his seat to do a quick ten. Steve again sat in his desk and Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia’s desk.
Dr. Christianson then went to the next person, Joe, and asked, “Joe, do you want a donut?”
Joe said, “Yes.”
Dr. Christianson asked, “Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?”
Steve did ten push-ups and Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first row, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.
Starting with the second row, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team and in as good condition as Steve. He, too, was tremendously popular and never lacked for female companionship.
When the professor asked, “Scott do you want a donut?” Scott’s reply was, “Well, can I do my own push-ups?”
Dr. Christianson said, “No, Steve has to do them.”
Then Scott said, “Then I don’t want one.”
Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn’t want?”
With perfect obedience, Steve started to do ten push-ups.
Scott objected, “Hey! I said I didn’t want one!”
Dr. Christianson said, “Look!, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it.” He then put a donut on Scott’s desk.
By this time, Steve had begun to slow down a bit. He now stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to get up and down. You could also see a little perspiration forming on his face.
Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.
Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?”
Sternly, Jenny said, “No!”
Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut she doesn’t want?”
Steve did his ten — Jenny got a donut.
A growing sense of uneasiness began to fill the room. More and more students saying “no” and there were all these uneaten donuts sitting on their desks.
Steve also had to expend more and more effort to get his push-ups done for each donut. A small pool of sweat formed on the floor beneath him, his face getting more and more red from the physical exertion.
Dr. Christianson assigned Robert — the most vocal unbeliever in the class — to watch Steve do each push-up to make sure he did the full ten in each set because the professor couldn’t bear to watch Steve’s work for all of those uneaten donuts. Robert went over to where Steve was so he could watch Steve closely and count.
Dr. Christianson now started down the fourth row. As he did so, however, four students from other classes wandered in, sitting down on the steps along the radiators running down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw there were now 34 students present. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.
Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next.
By the end of that row, Steve was having a rough go of it, taking progressively more time to complete each set. He asked the professor, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?”
Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, then told him, “Well, they’re your push-ups. You are in charge, so you can do them any way you want.”
So Dr. Christianson went on. A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to enter when all the students yelled in unison, “NO! Don’t come in! Stay out!”
Steve lifted his head and said, “No, let him come!”
Professor Christianson said, “You do realize if Jason comes in, you will have to do ten push-ups for him, too?”
Steve said, “Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut.”
Dr. Christianson said, “Okay, Steve, I’ll let you get Jason’s out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?”
Jason, having no clue was to what was going on. “Sure!” he said, “give me a donut.”
“Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?”
Steve, slowly and with great effort, then did ten push-ups. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.
Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters.
Steve’s arms were now shaking with each push-up as he valiantly struggled to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time, sweat was profusely dropping from of his face to the floor.
There was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room.
The final two students in the room were two young women, both popular cheerleaders.
Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the next to last, and asked, “Linda, would you like a donut?”
Linda very sadly said, “No, thank you.”
Professor Christianson quietly asked, “Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?”
Grunting from the effort, Steve leadenly did ten push-ups for Linda.
Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl. “Susan, do you want a donut?”
Susan, with tears flowing down her face, cried out, “Dr. Christianson, why can’t I help him!?”
Dr. Christianson, through tears of his own, said, “No, Steve has to do it alone. I assigned him this task and he is in charge of ensuring everyone here has an opportunity for a donut, whether they want it or not.”
He then faced the rest of the class and said, “When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve is the only student in this class with straight-A grades and perfect attendance. Everyone else has either failed a test, skipped one or more classes, or submitted inferior work.
“Steve told me how in football practice, when a player messes up, he must do push-ups. I told Steve none of you could come to my party until he paid the price by doing your push-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes. Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?”
As Steve gradually completed his final push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he collapsed to the floor.
Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, pled to the Father, ‘Into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ With the understanding He had done everything required of Him, He yielded up His life. Like some of us in this room, we leave His gift on the desk, uneaten.”
Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat. He was physically exhausted, but wore a thin smile.
“Well done, good and faithful servant,” commended the professor, adding, “Not all sermons are preached with words.”
Addressing his class again, the professor said, “My fervent wish is that you may fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy which have been lavished upon you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not His only begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has already been paid.
“Wouldn’t you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?”
Full court shot — nothing but net.
Thanks for reading!