Just a few blocks away, Johnny was trying to work on his homework too and was having even less success than Susie at concentrating on the schoolwork. In his mind he kept replaying the telephone conversation with Mr. Anderson. “Johnny I know I promised to hold that bicycle for you, but this man came in and wanted to pay cash for it. My business has been really slow lately and I need the sales to be able to pay my bills. I’m sure you can understand that, can’t you?”
Johnny’s eyes started welling up all over again, “He promised me that he would hold the bike for me and he broke his promise. I really thought I could trust Mr. Anderson!”
Johnny stood up and turned away from his desk, shoved his hands down deep into his pockets and walked over toward the window and looked out down to the street. Just at that moment two boys raced by on their bikes, whooping and hollering at each other. “That could’ve been me” he thought to himself.
The hurt of the lost bicycle surged back in a deep wave and the anger returned causing him to ball up his fists tightly. “Yeah, I thought that I could trust Mr. Anderson. I won’t fall for that again. I’m not so sure that I can trust anyone. What was it Susie said? Oh yeah, (with sarcasm) ‘Johnny, the only person in the whole world that will not let you down, ever is Jesus. He will never let any of us down.’ Ha! I’m not so sure about that. What did I say to her? Oh yeah, I remember, I said ‘If all those other people are going to let me down, how can I be sure Jesus won’t do the same?’ Yeah, and that’s right too. If he loved me so much, he wouldn’t have let this happen.”
Johnny turned away from his window, walked over to his bed, turned and flopped down on it, on his back, so he was looking at the ceiling. His eyes were watering up even more now and he wiped his eyes with his sleeves again. His mind started swirling with thoughts of the looking at the bike in the window of the hardware store, his dreams of what it would have been like to ride it, Mr. Anderson saying he would hold it for him, Uncle Klaus giving him a little bonus in his pay to go toward the bike, memories of Pastor Johnson preaching on forgiveness and then Susie telling him Jesus would never let him down. Through all of those swirling thoughts some Bible verses started to come into his mind. He tried to push them away and out of his mind; he was not ready yet to give up his anger.
Back at Susie’s, we find her kneeling beside her bed in prayer for her friend. “Jesus, I am praying for my friend Johnny. He is feeling really hurt and angry about losing something he has been working really hard for. He needs you help. He even doubts you love him. He doubts he is safe and secure with you and you will never let him down. Jesus, I know that you will never let us down, I know that you always keep us safe and secure in your love. Please help my friend Johnny, Lord.”
Johnny was startled to hear a knock on his door and his father saying, “Johnny, can I…or rather, can we…come in to see you?” Johnny sat up quickly and tried to get his bearings. He realized that he must have dozed off while he was thinking about the bike.
“Sure dad, come on in.” Johnny said quickly as he rubbed his eyes. The door opened and his father walked in and then Johnny saw Mr. Anderson standing in the doorway behind him, looking nervous and holding his hat with both hands in front of him.
Mr. Peterson walked in and sat on the bed next to Johnny. “Son, Mr. Anderson came over to talk to me. He told me about having to sell the bicycle and how disappointed you were. He wants to apologize in person for having to sell it. Will you talk to him? He’s right here.”
Johnny sat up a little straighter, turned and looked at Mr. Anderson in the doorway & then back at his father and then said, “Yes sir, I will. Won’t you come in Mr. Anderson?” Johnny then walked over to his desk, grabbed the chair and turned it around and pulled it toward the bed so that Mr. Anderson could sit down. “Would you sit here, please Mr. Anderson?” he said and then walked back over to the bed and sat down next to his father.
Mr. Anderson walked over and sat down on the chair still holding his hat with both of his hands. He looked at Johnny’s face that was still somewhat red and his eyes were still puffy and red from being rubbed. “Johnny” he began, “I think that I disappointed you much, much more than I thought I would and I have been feeling really badly ever since we talked on the phone and I have been waiting all day so that I could come and see you in person. I realized that no matter how good my reason was, I should not have broken my word to you. Johnny, I want you to know how really, very sorry that I am and…and…I think that I have a way of making it up to you. But, before that, I need to ask you to forgive me. My wife and children have recently started going to the same church that your family goes to. We just became Christians recently and I remember that Pastor Johnson preached a sermon not to long ago on forgiveness and what to do if you offend one of your brothers. He said that if you offend one of your brothers, you need to go to them and ask forgiveness and to make it right. That is what I am trying to do.” Mr. Anderson shifted around on his chair just a bit since the chair was small and he was a big man.
He continued, “Johnny, I have children almost your age, but I know that you are a fine Christian boy and I have offended you. Can you forgive me?”
Johnny sat there for a minute staring at Mr. Anderson; he wasn’t sure what to do. Inside he was still disappointed and angry, but now something stronger was taking over. He could see that Mr. Anderson really understood what he had done and he began to feel ashamed of his own lack of forgiveness to a man that really, honestly was sorry. Johnny’s mind went back to Pastor Johnson’s sermon. It centered on Matthew 6:14 & 15 “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
The realization of the need to forgive washed over Johnny like a wave and nearly knocked him over. He actually wobbled just a bit and then came the words, slowly at first, “No, Mr. Anderson…I…don’t need…to…forgive you.” And then they began to gush out like a geyser at Yellowstone Park, “I need to ask you to forgive me. I have spent most of today angry with you. Not just a little angry, but really, really angry and right now I am so ashamed of myself. I felt really disappointed in you and I began to take that and turn it into anger. I felt that, if I couldn’t trust you, I couldn’t trust anyone…not even Jesus. I thought that He didn’t love me because of that bicycle and I even wondered if I was even saved. Can you please forgive me, Mr. Anderson?”
Johnny was breathing really heavy now and feeling very tired, his father put his arm around him and said to him gently, “Son, I am really proud of you for what you just said.” He gave his son a hug. Mr. Anderson leaned in toward Johnny, his eyes glistening, “Yes, Johnny, I will forgive you. Can you forgive me for disappointing you?”
Johnny was getting his strength back again and feeling much better and said, “You bet, Mr. Anderson. Hey, let’s shake on it, ok?” A great big smile broke out across Mr. Anderson’s kind face and he said, “You bet, Johnny let’s shake on it.” The two of them stretched out their hands, one older, bigger and with more than a few calluses and Johnny’s youngish, puffy little paw. They met half way, Johnny’s hand was nearly swallowed up by Mr. Anderson’s, but they grasped each other and began to shake in happy earnestness. Both faces were lit up with smiles and they were joined by Johnny’s father who began to chuckle just a little and that began to become a laugh that must have been contagious because then Johnny and Mr. Anderson began laughing too.
The next day, after school, Johnny and Susie met at the bench that they had sat on so many times before. Johnny shared with Susie what had happened the evening before with Mr. Anderson at his house. Susie listened carefully and then started chuckling to herself. Johnny, confused began protesting, “What’s so funny? I was in agony right up until the end and….and…” “And then you all started laughing” she said. “I wish I could have been there, you see I had this big long speech all prepared for you about how you can trust Jesus, I had a bunch of verses all ready to share with you and God did it all already. He beat me to it.” They both began laughing together.
Romans 8: 38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”