Jeff peddled furiously along the country road. It wasn’t that he was in that much of a hurry but when he was deep in thought, he peddled faster. And right now, he was very deep in thought for it had been a very exciting week.
He was heading home from Bible Club and it would be dusk soon. His mother liked to have him home by dark so he peddled a little faster still.
Jeff liked to please his mother. He’d never cared much about pleasing anyone else, at least not until lately, but his mother was stuck in a wheel chair all day.
Even worse, she had to put up with the complaints and silly whims of his Aunt Harriet. He didn’t want to add to his mother’s problems by making her worry about him, too.
Until now, Jeff had done pretty much what he wanted. He got into a lot of trouble at school, though he tried to keep as much of that from his mother as possible. As for his arguments with Aunt Harriet, he felt they were totally justified.
It felt good to tell her off for the way she treated him and Mom. His mother didn’t want him to fight with Aunt Harriet but someone had to stand up for their rights. He wished he were old enough to get a job and get Mom out of there. He’d gladly take care of her and let Aunt Harriet have her big, old house and her privacy.
She played the martyr very well, pretending that she had to take care of him and Mom but they both did their share. Jeff did tons of chores. Mom sold her paintings and brought in a good deal for expenses whether Aunt Harriet wanted to admit that or not.
But this week had been a lot different than the usual school stuff and endless chores. Jeff had been going to Bible Club since the beginning of the school year and he’d been learning some really amazing things.
Jeff had never thought too much about God. When he did, he was pretty angry what with the terrible accident that had killed his father and put his mother in a wheelchair. But Jeff was beginning to realize that God was a loving God…. a Father.
Oh, not like some fathers. But kind of like his dad.
Good and loving and kind—but sometimes telling you like it was if necessary. He often wondered if his dad, up in heaven, knew about all the trouble he’d been getting into the last couple of years.
Miss Clark, the Bible Club teacher, said that God knew. And that God understood. God didn’t like sin but He wanted to help with his sin problem and all of his problems. That’s why Jeff had asked God to forgive him and come into his life. He was sick of the wrong things he always did. He’d learned that God would be with him and help him even in the tough things he had to deal with.
He frowned as he rode along the patch of forest. He couldn’t believe that his dad, who was so jolly and fun, could ever have had an older sister as nasty as Aunt Harriet. Jeff couldn’t believe that Mom and he had been so down and out that they had to move in with her.
Jeff slowed down. It wasn’t just the fact that there were a few slick spots here and there or the fact that the sun was blazing in the western sky, making it difficult for drivers to see him. No, he slowed down because the old bitterness was welling up inside him and if he arrived home in this mood, he’d have it out with Aunt Harriet again….
Suddenly Jeff hit a wet patch! Desperately he gripped the handlebars as he shot across the road, skidding out of control! He tried to keep his bike upright but a split second later he crashed into the inadequate little guardrail and flew off the bike. Soaring down the embankment, Jeff hit the ground hard. He rolled over and over and bashed his knee against a tree before finally coming to a stop in a pile of brush.
The breath had been knocked out of him. His arms stung from deep scratches where trees branches had dug into him and he realized that he was bleeding. His leg was twisted under him and throbbed with pain. He watched in dismay as his bicycle bounced on down the embankment. It finally came to rest against a huge tree, the front wheel a twisted mess.
He picked himself up out of the brush. His knee throbbed painfully but he was able to walk.
It flashed through Jeff’s mind that not everything had changed for the better since he had asked Jesus to be his Savior. Aunt Harriet thought it was a big joke. “You? A Christian? Like that will make any difference in a loser like you!“ Things weren’t going so well at school either, since his friends weren’t too thrilled with his decision. He didn’t want to cheat or steal any more and they didn’t understand why. And this certainly wasn’t planned.
“God, why did you let this happen? What am I going to do without wheels?” He limped over to the bike, but he could see that it was going to take money to fix it. And there was no money. At least not from Aunt Harriet, the stingy old. …no, don’t even go there….He knew God didn’t want him to be disrespectful to his aunt even in his thoughts. But as he looked at the twisted bicycle, he wondered, was it even worth it to try to please God? Did God even care, after all?
He shook his head to clear it. Of course God cared. “ God always has a plan and will bring something good out of it,” his teacher had said in Bible Club that very afternoon. Jeff groaned. He was in a lot of pain from his numerous scrapes and bruises. He really couldn’t think of anything good that could possibly come out of this.
Suddenly he saw a glint of metal not far away. Looking closer, he wondered what it was. Then he saw the car. It was smashed against a tree, the bumper crumpled and bent.
“Wow, someone did the same thing I did!” Curious, he limped over and was surprised to find that the car was fairly new and shiny, not old and rusted, as he had expected. It hadn’t been down here for long. He reached out and opened the door.
“Whoa!” His eyes widened in surprise.
There, on the floor under the steering wheel was a wallet!
He picked it up. It was made of brown leather…and it was bulging with bills.
“Wow!” he gasped as he thumbed through it, counting. “Five hundred bucks!”
Jeff wondered what he should do. Someone had had an accident but wouldn’t they make sure they had their wallet? Especially one with this much money.
Suddenly he heard voices and froze. Maybe it was the owner coming back for the wallet. Whoever it was would think he was going to steal it. Actually, he hadn’t thought about what he was going to do with it. The money sure would be a help. He could get his bike fixed and Aunt Harriet wouldn’t even know it had been wrecked in the first place. On the other hand, Mom—and God— wouldn’t think too much of that idea.
Whatever he decided, he didn’t have time to think about it now for the voices were closer and much clearer. And he didn’t like what he was hearing.
“Come on, I know the guy had money,” came a voice that sounded like a teenager’s. “It must be in the car somewhere. We sure need it more than he does.” And a sarcastic laugh rang out..
Jeff backed up in horror. What was going on? Who were these guys?
He took off running. Pain shot through his knee but he kept going. He finally sank down in the brush. The voices still floated towards him in the quiet of the woods. Apparently they hadn’t heard his escape for they were discussing the wallet.
“It’s not here!”
“It’s got to be. Maybe it’s on the ground. Hey, look! A bike!”
His bike! They’d found his bike!
“It’s pretty close to the car. I’ll bet whoever was on this bike found the wallet!”
“It’s a kid’s bike. Look how twisted it is. He really wiped out down here. Two accidents within an hour. That’s something, huh?”
“Maybe the kid’s still around. It must’ve just happened. This bike wasn’t here before.”
That’s all Jeff needed to hear. He had to get out of here! Now!
There was a small cave nearby that he and his dad used to explore. He wondered if the teenagers knew about it. He’d have to take the chance.
He quickly found the small opening to the cave and crawled in. Wet leaves had blown about and it was cold and dirty but at least the voices had died away. As he sat there, hoping they would give up and leave, Jeff pulled the wallet out of his jacket pocket.
What he could do with this kind of money. But something inside was giving him warning signals. He knew exactly what it was. God’s voice. And he knew exactly what he should do. But was he willing to do it?
To be continued….
By Carol Bennett