The Winter Water Hazard

The Winter Water Hazard

By: S.C. Mathisen

“Come on Johnny, let’s go! I want to skate on the old pond today. We’re only here in Millville visiting my grandparents for a week.” Susie said trying to encourage her friend Johnny to hurry into his coat, hat and mittens.  

“I am hurrying, Susie” Johnny said sounding like he was already out of breath.

He had already put on two extra sweaters, long johns and an extra set of wool socks and was bent over trying to reach the laces of his hi-top insulated winter boots and just barely reaching them. Between the extra layers of clothing and the extra layers of Johnny’s round stomach, the laces were almost out of his reach. But he finally did get them and was now finishing up the final knot on his right boot.

“There, I’ve got the boots laced up. All I need to do now is to put on my hat and scarf and coat and get my mittens on. You can never be too careful out in winter weather. Especially here in upper Minnesota! It’s really cold up here!”

“Great, now let’s go. We want to get out there and get back before it gets dark.” Susie said in eager anticipation.

When Johnny was finally ready, they headed for the back door. Johnny detoured slightly to pick up a handful of oatmeal raisin cookies, wrap them carefully in a napkin and put them in one of his over large coat pockets.

After going out the door and walking across the wide driveway, they passed the barn and followed a path that took them across the cornfields plowed under after the harvest. The sky was a dull, steely gray and the ground was covered with white frost and. They could see each breath they took. They talked excitedly about how much fun it was going to be to skate on a real frozen pond instead of the ice rink they practiced on back home in Crescent City.

After walking across fields for a time, the path led into what looked like a small bunch of trees.

“I think the pond is just on the other side of these trees,” said Susie.

“Wow, it sure is farther than I thought it would be,” said Johnny as he slowed down to look up and around at all the tall trees.

“Come on Johnny, keep up!  It’s starting to snow.”

“I’m coming. I was just noticing how weird it is in here with all these trees covered in snow.”

“Yup, but we should be out of the woods in a couple of minutes if we walk fast.”

“Walk fast, that’s a really good idea. It’s kinda creepy in here. The snow is starting to come down real hard, the sky is getting to be a real dark gray and it’s getting hard to see.” 

Johnny picked up the pace and started walking really fast. He began walking so fast Susie had trouble keeping up with him. The only sound was their feet rapidly crunching in the new fallen snow.

After several minutes of walking, taking different turns to follow what Susie thought was the path, she said with a little quiver in her voice, “Johnny, does it seem like it’s getting darker instead of lighter?” 

“Y-y-yes. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice and get scared. Why do you think I’m walking so fast?”

“Maybe we should turn around and go back,” said the quivering voice.

Johnny stopped suddenly and pointed toward his left, “look there’s a clearing over there. Maybe we should go that way.”

“Well, Ok.”

Johnny turned to his friend and said, “I thought you knew your way around on this farm. You should be the one giving directions. Are you lost?”

Susie looked around with a puzzled look on her face, “I thought I knew the way. I just don’t remember the woods taking this long to get through. I might be a little confused.”

“Oh great, you’re lost. And if you’re lost I’m lost too. Can you find your way back out of here?”

Trying to sound braver and more confident than she really felt Susie said “Sure, we just go back the way we came.”

“Right, we took so many twists and turns on the way here, I lost track of where we came from. I bet you did too!” 

“I think I know what we need to do.”

“So do I, we need to pray. God know where we are and He can keep us safe.”

Susie smiled broadly, “That’s right Johnnie. He can and He will!”

Johnny began, “Lord, you know where we are and how to get us out of here. Please show us the way out.”

Susie joined in, “Yes Jesus, please help us to find our way out.”

They both said together “Amen!” 

Johnny then turned and looked all the way around him said with a more determined tone, “Let’s head toward gap in the trees over there. If we can get out of these woods, I’m sure we can get back to the farm house.”

Susie, immediately perked up and said, “Ok Johnny, lead on.”

So off they went. Johnny led and Susie followed closely behind him. After a bit they were walking shoulder to shoulder. Each time one stepped on and snapped a fallen twig or branch they both jumped slightly and moved closer together. 

Twenty minutes later at the edge of the forest, the sky had cleared and they found themselves in very bright sunlight standing on an overhang that looked down over the valley that contained Susie’s grandparents farm. They could see the farmhouse and barn in the distance.

“Wow! That sun is bright!” said Johnny, shielding his eyes. “How did we end up all the way over here?”

“I don’t know but I guess we walked farther than we thought. Look! There’s the old pond down there,” said Susie pointing off to her right and her familiar smile returning to her face.

“Wow! Somehow we managed to walk completely around it and end up all the way up here.”

“How do we get down there? I sure don’t want to go back the way we came.”

Johnny then pointed to the right but lower than Susie had, “It looks like there’s a trail over there that might take us down there. All we have to do is to follow this overhang till we get to it.”

Beaming at Johnny, Susie said, “Well? What are we waiting for?”

“I think we need to thank God for getting us out of the forest.” 

“That’s right, Johnnie, we do. Let’s do it now.”

Once again they joined in prayer. “Thank you, Lord for bringing us out of the forest.  Now help us to get back to the farm safely.” They looked at each other and both said, “Amen!”

So off they went walking along the edge of the overhang and sometimes hanging onto tree branches to keep their balance. 

Just as they approached the trail, they realized that they would have to cross a shallow, but wide and mostly frozen over creek to get to it.

After looking at the creek Johnny turned to Susie and said, “Whoa! That looks too wide to jump.”

Susie began craning her neck looking up and downstream to see if there was another spot they could cross. “The underbrush is too thick to try anywhere else. It looks like we have to cross here or go back through the woods.”

Just then Johnny spotted a low branch hanging over the creek. “You know, we might be able to grab that branch and swing across.” 

Before Susie could respond, Johnny had jumped up to grab the branch. He got a hold of it and began to swing but couldn’t hold on all the way across. He dropped onto the icy creek bed and his feet immediately began to slide downstream. 

Susie watched in horror as Johnny began to fall and reached out to catch him but only succeeded in grabbing his coat pocket. That grip on Johnny pulled her off balance toward the creek bed and she fell toward him. 

Soon the two of them were sliding down the iced over creek bed like it was a bobsled course. Johnny was feet first with Susie still gripping his pocket going down headfirst. 

They careened downhill at getting faster by the minute, all the time bouncing off of the creek sides until they eventually shot out of the creek bed and across the old pond. At that point, they began spinning around like cartwheels. 

They eventually came to a stop near the far side of the creek where they sat up and tried to get their bearings. Johnny was just about to speak up when they heard a familiar voice, “If you two are done with your ice dancing, maybe you’d like a ride back to the house.”

They looked up to see Susie’s Grampa Johnny with his horse drawn wagon at the edge of pond chuckling. Susie and Johnny looked at each other and then they began to laugh too. 

 

How to be a Godly Giver – Part 2 – The End

Stanley plopped back down on the steps again, “I didn’t think about it that way. Ok, I’ll give some to the orphans in Mexico.”

Stanley’s eyes lit up and he smiled really big. “I know what I can do. When we are in class next Sunday and Mrs. Hoffner asks if anyone brought money for the Orphans in Mexico, I’ll stand up really fast and say really loud that I am going to give one whole dollar. That way God will know what I am doing and so will the whole class and then God will give me a reward when I get to heaven.”

Susie put her hand on her brother’s shoulder and said, “Stanley, that’s not how Jesus asks you to give. Isn’t that right Johnny?”

Johnny had just finished putting the last of the cookie into his mouth so all he could say was “Yeth, thatth righp.” Johnny then took a big drink of his milk.

Susie pulled her little pocket Bible out of her back pocket and said, “In fact I was just reading a verse about that they other day, where was that?”

Susie had opened her little Bible and was turning pages back from her purple ribbon bookmark.

“Here it is! It’s in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6 verse 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it. In fact, it says a little later that you should give quietly, because when you make a big announcement so that people notice what you are doing, that’s all the reward you are going to get. If you give quietly, then God will reward you in heaven for being a cheerful, godly giver.”

Stanley turned around and sat back down on the steps and said, “I’m a little confused. What should I do with this money? How much is 10% of $5, Johnny?”

Johnny had finished swallowing the last of his milk and cookie by this time and could speak clearly, “50 cents, Stanley. That’s not really a lot of the five dollars when you think about it.”

Stanley held out his five dollar bill so that he could look at it. “How often do you guys think that those orphans get cookies and milk?”  He asked.

His sister Susie leaned over closer to him and said, “Probably not as often as we do, Stanley.”

Stanley thought about that for a minute. Then he stood up, put the five dollar bill in his pocket and ran inside looking for his mother. When he found her, he asked her for an envelope. After she gave it to him, he ran upstairs to his room. Then he got out a piece of paper and a pencil, wrote a short note and put it and his five dollar bill in the envelope and sealed it.

That next Sunday, when the Sunday school teacher asked for donations for the orphans in Mexico, she noticed that there was already an envelope in the jar.

How to be a Godly Giver – Part 1

How to be a Godly Giver

By: God

Adapted by: S.C. Mathisen

 

“Woo-hoo!” Stanley shouted as he ran around in a large circle in the Johnson back yard.

“I got five whole dollars for my birthday! Wow! What can I do with all this money?”

Stanley stopped and looked at the crisp five dollar bill in his hands, “I know, I can buy candy, lots and lots of candy!”

“Hang on there, little brother.” His sister Susie said from the back porch of the house. “What else should you do with that money?”

Stanley stopped and said, “Huh? What do you mean? Money is for spending, right?”

“Not always, not all of it anyway,” said Susie.

“That’s right.” said Susie’s friend Johnny who had followed her out of the back door with a half eaten Oatmeal Raisin cookie in one chubby hand and a glass of milk in the other.

“Ok, what should I do with it? Stanley asked.

“Isn’t your Sunday school class doing a coin drive to raise money for those missionaries taking care of those orphans down in Mexico?” asked Susie.

“That’s right”, spoke up Johnny as he took a big bite out of the cookie in his hand.

Stanley walked over to the steps going up to the porch and sat down looking sad.

“You mean I should give away my birthday money to the orphans in Mexico?” he moaned. “I don’t want to do that. I want to buy candy for me, not those orphans in Mexico I don’t even know.”

Susie leaned over and roughed up Stanley’s hair, “Not all of it Stanley. Most people say that we should give back 10% of what we get back to the Lord as thanks for what He gives us.”

Stanley stood up, turned around and looked his sister in the eye, “But God didn’t give this money to me. Grammie Susie gave it to me.”

Johnny leaned on the back porch railing and said, “Stanley, God gives us everything that we have; even the stuff that we get from our parents and grandparents. God made everything, He owns everything and so everything that we have comes from Him.”

 

The Workers in the Grocery Store – Part 6 – The End

“Johnny,” she said “I know what’s bothering you and I have a story to tell you.” Johnny didn’t move so she began. It’s a story from the Bible and it goes like this, actually let me read it to you from my pocket testament.” Susie always carried her little New Testament with her. You never know when it will come in handy, she says.

It’s from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 20.

1 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the owner of an estate who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work. 3 “At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. 4 So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. 5 At noon and again around three o’clock he did the same thing. 6 At five o’clock that evening he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’ 7 “They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.'”The owner of the estate told them, ‘Then go on out and join the others in my vineyard.’ 8 “That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. 9 When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. 10 When those hired earlier came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. 11 When they received their pay, they protested, 12 ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’ 13 “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? 14 Take it and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. 15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be angry because I am kind?’ 16 “And so it is, that many who are first now will be last then; and those who are last now will be first then.”

Johnny perked up at that last part and said, “I never thought that I would really live out a Bible story, Susie, but I just did. I was jealous of the rest of you kids for being paid the same as me for all of the work that you did. I was wrong, really wrong and I am sorry.”

Susie smiled at her friend and said, you didn’t hurt my feelings but you might want to apologize to you aunt and uncle and…you might want to apologize to God for the jealousy. That’s a sin you know.”

“Boy do I,” moaned Johnny “I have been feeling really crumby ever since then. I always feel that way when I sin. You’re right I do need to pray. Would you pray with me?”

“Sure, that’s what friends are for.” smiled Susie. Our two friends sat together on that bench in the park and talked to God together about the problem that they had that day. Johnny asked for God’s forgiveness. And we all know that God forgives His children whenever they ask.

Johnny learned that he needed to be content with what he had. He got from Uncle Klaus exactly what he had agreed to and was promised. Jealousy had crept into his heart. Johnny confessed his sin and was forgiven.

The Workers in the Grocery Store – Part 5

Well, Andrea did call her mother, who gave her permission. She brought her lunch over and they all had a grand time visiting and getting to know each other. Soon lunch was over and they all got busy and everything that Uncle Klaus and Aunt Harriet wanted done that day was done in record time. Johnny and Jimmy got all the shelves stocked and the end caps set up, Aunt Harriet, along with Susie and Andrea got all the special displays done and a few more touches as well. They all gathered in the back room where the office was to gather up their coats and go home. Uncle Klaus and Aunt Harriet were conferring in the office and then began to call the children in one at a time beginning with Andrea, they handed her an envelope and said that they really appreciated her help today and wanted to give her something for her time. She was surprised, but accepted the envelope and thanked them very much. Then they called in Jimmy and then Susie and repeated the same scene with each of them. Finally, it was Johnny’s turn. Each of his friends had each shared that they had been given $50 and so when Johnny came in, he found himself expecting a little bit more because he had been there all day. They handed Johnny his envelope and told Johnny how thankful they were for his help that day and how proud they were of him as their nephew. They also mentioned to Johnny that they liked his work so much that they would talk to his parents about getting him to work for them regularly. He liked that idea a lot.

Without opening his envelope, Johnny thanked them and went out to join his friends. As he walked out into the back room, he opened his envelope and found his $50 in there. A wave of disappointment ran through him. He hesitated for just a few moments and then he went back into the office. He looked at his uncle and said, “Uncle Klaus, when you hired me you promised to give me $50 for working the whole day. Why did you pay the rest of the kids the same amount when none of them worked as long as I did?” Uncle Klaus looked at him and said, “I’m surprised at you Johnny, you agreed to work for that amount. If I choose to pay your friends the same amount that I paid you, isn’t that my privilege?” Johnny quietly said yes and then turned to leave.

He said to the waiting crowd that he was tired and was going home. He grabbed his coat and hurried toward the front door leaving them with curious looks on their faces. Susie volunteered to go after him and see what the matter was, grabbed her coat and quickly went after him. She knew where he would go if he was truly bothered by something.

Uncle Klaus and Aunt Harriet came out of the office, Jimmy and Andrea thanked them again for their generosity headed off to their own homes.

Susie found Johnny just where she thought she would. He was sitting on the same park bench that they had so often sat at before when they wanted to talk things over or pray about some special thing. Susie went over and sat down across the bench from him and just sat there silently for a few minutes.

 

The Workers in the Grocery Store – Part 4

The two boys headed back into the store and Uncle Klaus, having heard the bell on the door came out to see them coming back in. Johnny introduced Jimmy and asked Uncle Klaus if it would be alright if Jimmy helped them out. Uncle Klaus smiled his great big smile and said “Yah…yah…that would be very helpful and kind of you. I have just been realizing that this was really more of a job than one boy could do and my work in the back is taking longer than I thought as well. By the way, I hope that you like sandwiches because I just ordered some for our lunch break from the Murphy’s across the street. They are running a special on ham sandwiches today. I’ll call them back and add one more to the order. We got some soda pop in a cooler in the back. We’ll have a good lunch in about a half an hour.”

“Wow, that’s great!” The two boys said almost at the same time. Uncle Klaus smiled his great big smile again and said “wonderful, glad to have you here Jimmy. Johnny can show you what to do.” With that he turned and headed back to his work. Johnny showed Jimmy where to hang his coat and took him to where he had been working and showed him what to do. The two boys pitched in together, worked hard and the job of stocking the shelves was really starting to move along faster when there was a knock at the front door. Johnny could see that it was their friend Andrea. She had a large bag in her arms. Uncle Klaus was at the door quickly and both of the boys were right behind him. Andrea was delivering the sandwiches from Murphy’s and was surprised to see her two friends standing beside Uncle Klaus. Just then Aunt Harriet and Susie came over to the door to as they also knew that this was probably lunch being delivered and were both hungry.

“Wow, Andrea what are you doing with that bag of sandwiches?” asked Susie. “I have been working for the Murphy’s for the last couple of weeks when they have extra deliveries that are more than their regular delivery boy can handle. This is my last one for the day. What’s going on over here?” asked Andrea.

Uncle Klaus smiled his great big smile and explained that they were Johnny’s aunt and uncle, had just moved from the Midwest and were opening the store soon. Then Johnny took over and explained that he and Susie and Jimmy were helping them get everything ready for the store to open on Monday. Andrea handed the bag of sandwiches to Uncle Klaus, accepted the money for them and then said, “You know this is my last delivery for the day. Would it be alright if I come over and help out too?” Uncle Klaus looked at Aunt Harriet and then at Johnny, Susie and then Jimmy, smiled his big smile and said, “Yah, yah that would be wonderful to have you in on the fun that we are having.” “Great, I’ll take this payment across the street to the Murphy’s, grab my lunch and join you.” Andrea said and she headed out the door. “Don’t forget to call you mother and tell her where you’ll be,” said Aunt Harriet.

 

The Workers in the Grocery Store – Part 3

“Wow, that’s really nice of you Susie, come on in!” he said opening the door wide so that she could enter. Uncle Klaus had heard the bell on door in the back room and came out to see who had gone out or come in. He smiled when he saw Susie standing there with Johnny. Johnny quickly explained why Susie was there and just as they finished the explanation Aunt Harriet joined them in welcoming Susie and offered to give her some work to do with her on the other side of the store putting up some special displays. “We are new in this area, Susie, and I’d like your opinion on how they look.” Susie looked at Johnny and then back at Aunt Harriet and said, “sure, that sounds great, I’d love to help in any way that I can.” So off to the other side of the store the two went.

Johnny asked Uncle Klaus, “I’ve got all of these empty boxes, Uncle Klaus. What do you want me to do with them.” Uncle Klaus said, “you just move them up here like you did with this stack and I’ll come by a little later and show you how to break them down so we can take them out back for the recyclers to take away.” Uncle Klaus headed back to the back of the store to continue on the project he was working on back there.

So Johnny returned to stocking the shelves. After about 30 minutes more work, he thought to himself. “Wow! This is a lot more work than I thought it was going to be. I’m getting really tired and really hungry and it’s only 10:30 in the morning. We have a long way to go and probably not enough time. I wonder if Jimmy Barski would mind coming over to help me with this.” Just then he was looking out the front window and who was walking by, but Jimmy Barski. Johnny hurried to the front window and knocked on the glass to get Jimmy’s attention and then he ran over to the front door and opened it and stepped outside so that they could talk. “Hey Jimmy, how are you?” he said. “Fine” said Jimmy, “what are you doing in that store? It’s not even open yet?” “Oh, it belongs to my Uncle Klaus and Aunt Harriet. They just moved here from the Midwest, bought the building from the Nguyen’s and are opening up a new grocery store here and are going to live on the second floor. It’s really cool to have them here in Crescent City.” “That’s great Johnny, did you want something because I was headed over to the library to look at some new books on nature photography. Our trip to the wildlife park really got me interested in it and I want to learn how to do it the right way and not get myself or others in danger like that trip.”

“Wow, that’s really cool Jimmy, I was wondering if you had some spare time, I’m helping my aunt and uncle out here and I could use your help for a little while. I could pay you part of what I’m getting to make it worth your while.” Jimmy thought for a quick second and said, “You know Johnny, I’d love to help you out. After all you helped to save my life and helped to lead me to ask Jesus into my heart as my Saviour. No pay is needed. Just point me at the work.” “Wow, that’s great Jimmy, but I’ll find some way to pay you for your time. I don’t want to take advantage of you.”

 

The Workers in the Grocery Store – Part 2

“Hey guys!” came a familiar voice from behind them. Susie and Johnny turned to see their friend Andrea hurrying to catch up with them. “What’s going on? You guys seem to be excited about something,” asked Andrea as she approached them. “I was just telling Susie about a job that I have tomorrow helping my Uncle Klaus stocking the shelves in his new store so that they can open on Monday. He is going to pay me $50 to help him for the whole day.” “Wow! That’s a lot of money! I wish I had a rich uncle to work for, I could use some new clothes” laughed Andrea. Johnny and Susie joined in the laughter and off they went to school.

The next morning Johnny showed up at the store right on-time at 8:00am. When he arrived he could see Uncle Klaus and Aunt Harriet through the front window of the store and they were both working very hard moving boxes of merchandise around and stacking them up in front of the shelves that they were to fill. Johnny knocked on the front door, Aunt Harriet hurried over to open it up and let him in. “Johnny, it’s so good to see you and thank you for offering to help us get set up” she said while brushing some hair out of her face. Turning to where her husband was maneuvering a hand truck stacked so high with boxes that you could not see him she said loudly, “Klaus, your helper is here and he looks very strong today. He should be a lot of help to you.”

Uncle Klaus responded, “Yah…yah…just let me get this stack of soup mix boxes in place, I will be right there. Can you show him where to put his coat, please?” Aunt Harriet put her arm around Johnny’s shoulder and said to him, “come with me young man, my you certainly are getting tall aren’t you?” Johnny blushed slightly and said, “Sure Auntie…it’s been over a year since you’ve seen me very much and I’ve been growing up a lot.”

Aunt Harriet showed Johnny where to put his coat and then took him to where his uncle was working and then went over to the other side of the store. In the aisle of the store, Uncle Klaus had boxes of merchandise stacked up and the top box of each stack was open and ready for Johnny to begin taking the merchandise out and put in on the shelves. Uncle Klaus showed Johnny exactly what merchandise to put on each shelf and how to put the stock on the shelf. Johnny listened carefully and asked his uncle lots of questions until he understood exactly what to do. “I’ve got it now Uncle Klaus; you can count on me to work really hard and to get the job done!” Johnny said eagerly. He was anxious to get started. Uncle Klaus showed him the ladder that he was to use to get the top shelves and said, “Ok Johnny, I’ve got some work to do in the back. You should be able to get most of this done by lunch time and then we’ll start on the end caps and then help Aunt Harriet with her special displays.” Uncle Klaus headed for the back room.

Johnny dove right in to the work and started working pretty quickly to begin with. The empty boxes began to stack up in the aisle and it started to get hard for Johnny to move around them. They hadn’t talked about what to do with the empty boxes.

Around 10 o’clock there was a knock on the front door of the store. Johnny carried a stack of empty boxes to the front of the store and set them down and saw that it was Susie. He hurried to the door and opened it and said, “Hey Susie, why are you here?” Susie just smiled and said, “You know Johnny I started thinking about it and thought that you might want some help with this job. I don’t need to be paid. I just want to help out our newest neighbor.”

 

The Workers in the Grocery Store – Part 1

The Workers in the Grocery Store

By: God

Adapted by: S.C. Mathisen

 

Not so very long ago, and not so very far away, we find our friends Johnny and Susie going over their homework together in the library at their school. They were just finishing up their math and started talking about some news that Johnny had been excited to share.

“So the phone rang last night and it was my Uncle Klaus. He had just arrived in town from the Midwest where we used to live. He and my Aunt Harriet had just sold their grocery store back home and moved out here to Crescent City,” explained Johnny. “That’s right,” said Susie “I remember you telling me about them and that they were going to come out here. What are they going to do? Are they going to open another grocery store?” “Absolutely, they just loved running their store back home, but they wanted to live somewhere where they were closer to the mountains.” “They came out to visit us last summer and really liked it here, so they decided to move here. They will be staying with us until they find a place of their own.”

Susie sat and thought for just a minute and said, “You know, Johnny, that building across the street from the Murphy’s bakery is that building that the Nguyen’s used for their grocery store before they decided to open their Vietnamese restaurant. Maybe they should look at that building for their store. It still has all the fixtures in it and stuff and it’s just been sitting vacant since they moved out.”

Johnny perked up and responded with excitement, “That’s right! And it has an apartment above the store so they could live there if they wanted to. That’s great Susie!” Johnny started gathering up his papers, notebooks and things. “I want to run home and tell them right away. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Ok, Johnny, I have some more homework to finish. See you in the morning!” Susie waved goodbye to Johnny as he hurried out of the library. Susie then turned her attention back to her books and started working on her assignments again.

Now, just in case you haven’t heard any of the stories with Susie and Johnny before, they are two kids that are best friends and both of them became Christians the same summer. They love talking to people about Jesus and they have lots of fun and adventures together as they learn and grow in their faith.

Two weeks later…Uncle Klaus and Aunt Harriet had rented the building that Susie had suggested and were working hard getting the store ready to open. We find our friends walking together on their way to school. Susie asks Johnny, “Hey Johnny, how are your aunt and uncle doing getting their new grocery store ready to open?” “Oh, they are doing just great, Susie. In fact they will be getting their stock today and, with tomorrow being Saturday, Uncle Klaus has hired me to help him stock the shelves. He said that he would pay me $50 to help him all day tomorrow.” “That’s great Johnny that will help you save up more money for that mountain bike that you’ve been wanting so much” responded Susie. “It sure will,” Johnny said excitedly. “Uncle Klaus told me that if I do a good job, he would think about having me help out at the store on a regular basis and that way I could keep working on saving the money for the bike and get it a lot sooner.” “Wow! That’ll be great Johnny!”

How Can I Be Sure – The End

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.”