Elwood’s Hazardous, Dangerous, Exciting Trip to the Library – Part 1

Elwood’s Hazardous, Dangerous, Exciting Trip to the Library

By: Steve Mathisen

 

“Elwood!”

The tall boy rolled over and tried to use his pillow to block the sound of his name being called.

“Elwood Phineas Dunkle! Get yourself out of bed and down here for breakfast this very minute,” his mother shouted

He knew the tone and that she would no longer tolerate being ignored.

He groaned, rolled over, slid out of bed, pulled on jeans and T-shirt and headed for the kitchen with a slight detour to the bathroom to wash up.

When he got to the table there was a book instead of his cereal bowl. Elwood looked at his mom.

“That book is due today. You need to make a trip to the library.”

“But Mom, I was going to−”

She set his bowl in place.

“You can do that after your trip to the library.”

“Okay, Mom.”

After breakfast, Elwood put the book in his backpack and rode his bike toward the library.

He was taking a shortcut through the park when his shoelace came untied and got tangled up in the chain of his bicycle. He glanced down at his foot and hit a hidden tree root. The bike stopped suddenly. Elwood did a complete flip over the handlebars and landed staring up at the sky through the branches of a huge oak tree.

“Well, that was a dumb move,” Elwood said to himself. As he began tying his loose shoelace, he looked around for his bike only to see its rear wheel disappear around the trunk of the tree.

Forgetting his laces he jumped up and yelled, “Hey, that’s my bike!” and then ran to where he had last seen his bike and … nothing. There was no bike to be seen anywhere. He ran back around the other way and again … nothing.

“What is going on here?” He said.

Clunk!

“What was that?” Elwood ran around the tree again looking for the source of the sound and once again … nothing.

Clang!

He looked up and saw his bike, hanging twenty feet up, bouncing against the tree and going higher, with a rope around the handlebars!

Elwood quickly found the lowest branch and scrambled up the tree after his bike. He just barely got his hand on the rear wheel of the bike before it disappeared into the darkness of the upper branches of the tree. He climbed higher. He wanted to know what was going on.

He felt cold … and blind. It was so dark toward the top of the tree that he couldn’t see anything but, he heard voices.

His eyes adjusted to the dark, he could see three guys on a platform that was built right into the top of the tree. They had at least a half-dozen bikes. The guys were taking them apart, putting the little parts in boxes and hanging the bigger parts on racks hung on branches.

“Bike thieves”, he whispered, “right here in the middle of the park, hidden up in a tree!”

No one seemed to notice him, so he climbed back down to a lower branch and started thinking about what he had to do to get his bike back.

His brain was working rapid fire coming up with ideas and tossing them out as impractical. Finally, he thought of three possible ideas.

First, he could climb back up and steal his bike back. That wouldn’t work though because the guys up in the tree were all bigger than he was.

Second, he could round up all his friends but, even with all of his friends they probably couldn’t overpower those guys and force them to give him his bike back.

“I’ll go to Uncle Jim; he’s a police officer.”

“But wait, he’s going to want proof!”

He reached into his pocket for his “Emergency Only” phone.

“It has a camera and this is an emergency.”

A Bump on the Head – Part 1

Josh was late for school…again. He was running faster than usual, taking his usual shortcut through Mr. Binkley’s yard and only had to duck under that low branch on the maple tree when . . .

Crunch!!

“Ooooowwww!! That . . . hurt . . .” Josh put his hand on his head, felt a very sore lump the size of a small egg, saw stars and dancing chickens and then . . . everything went dark.

“Hey buddy, are you ok?” Josh thought he heard someone say and then he felt a big, wet tongue on his face. When he opened his eyes, he saw Howie; Mr. Brinkley’s dog licking his face.

He pushed the dog away and sat up.

“Ok that’s enough, boy.”

“Alright, I’m just makin’ sure you’re ok,” he heard someone say.

Josh looked around and saw no one.

“Ok, who said that?”

His hand went back to the sore spot on the top of his head.

“Ouch! That must have been some conk on the head! Now, I’m hearing things.”

Just then a small voice came from up in the tree. “I don’t think he heard you, Howie.”

The dog looked up and saw a robin up in the tree. “I know, Hawthorne. They always act like they don’t understand.”

Josh looked first at the dog and then up at the robin and then back to the dog. “Are you guys talking?”

Howie and Hawthorne looked at each other and then at Josh and both said, “Yes! Are you…?”

They both stopped at the same time and then Howie continued, “You could understand us?”

Just then Mrs. Abernathy’s orange cat Norman came into view, “Hey guys, what’s up. This kid conk his noggin’ on that low branch?”

Josh looked at Norman and his mouth fell open and he started scooting himself back quickly with his hands. “Whoa! I must be dreaming! This can’t be real!”

Josh started to shake his head, as if to shake off this strange new reality, but quickly grabbed his head with both hands. “Oh! That hurt and made me dizzy at the same time!”

Howie moved closer to the boy, “Maybe you should just rest for a few minutes, Josh.”

Josh’s eyes widened as he looked at the dog, “Y…y…you know my name? H…h…how come I never heard you talk before?”

Howie sat down, looked at the boy and cocked his head to one side. “Well…”

Hawthorne flew to the ground and said, “Maybe you just never listened before.”

Norman came up and sat next to Josh opposite Howie, wrapped his tail around his paws and said, “I think he’s got an attention span problem.”

“Joshie, why you layin’ down in the grass?”

Josh turned toward the house to see little Lizzie Brinkley, rag doll hanging from her chubby little hand. “Hi Lizzie, I was cutting through your yard and hit my head on the low branch and was just…”

“Why?”

“I was on my way to school, Lizzie.”

“Oh. Who’re ya’ talkin’ to, Joshie?”

“I was talkin’ . . . talking to . . .”

Howie emitted a soft “leave us out of this” that sounded like a low growl.

“I was talking to myself. I do it sometimes when I’m alone.”

“Oh, okay.”

Josh jumped up, careful to avoid the tree branch.

“I’m going to be late for school if I don’t hurry. You should go back inside, Lizzie.” he said as he rushed off.

He looked back and saw Lizzie waving goodbye, he waved back at her.

All the way to school he wondered about what had happened.

“Maybe I was delirious. Animals don’t talk, that’s just crazy.” he said to himself.

Josh heard other voices as he rushed to school. His head rotated like a bobble head doll each time he heard a new one.

“It’s mine!”

“No it’s not, I found it first!” He saw two birds arguing over a worm.

There was a dog sniffing all around a grassy yard and mumbling.

“Where did I leave that juicy, tasty bone?”

Then he heard laughter. “It looks like the old, hound dog lost his bone again.”

Two cats were sitting on a fence, laughing at the dog.

All morning long in school, Josh wondered about what had happened and just when he thought he was feeling normal again . . . he heard a small, strange voice.

“So, I hear you can understand us when we talk.”

Josh looked around to see who was speaking.

“Hey! Look down here, it’s Louie…you know…the hamster!”

“Oh no, not you too! How did you find out about me?”

“Easy, the windows are open. I heard it from a little birdie! Ha ha ha, I heard it from a little birdie. I am sooo funny!”

Josh looked down into the hamster cage and saw Louie rolling around laughing and holding his sides.

“Shhh! Somebody will hear you!”

(Still laughing) “Who cares? Nobody can understand me but you. Hahaha, this is too good! I heard it from a little birdie!”

Josh rolled his head back and looked up. “Oh man! This is NOT happening to me!”

“Hey, Josh, who are you talking to?” said Scott in the next row.

“Oh…um…nobody…just talking to myself.”

“That’s right, pretend you can’t hear me.” said the Louie.

Josh put his hand over his ear in attempt to not hear Louie.

“Just thinking out loud Scott.”

“You’re seriously in denial, that’s what you are,” said Louie.

Josh turned toward the hamster cage and tried to whisper, “I am not! I didn’t ask for this. I don’t want to hear or understand animals when they talk. Now, leave me alone!”

Eber and the Tower – Part 7

The king made his entrance onto a balcony overseeing the courtyard, horns blaring. The guards commanded everyone to be quiet under threat of death. The king began to speak.

“Citizens of the great kingdom of Babel, thank you for meeting with me here today. It has come to my attention that the farmers of the valley do not want to sell me their crops of hay. No, I am told that they prefer to make their hay a gift to their king. Isn’t that generous?”

There was confusion and a great commotion amongst the farmers at this announcement.

“And indeed, they even wish to offer their sons as laborers for this mighty work of their king.”

Now the commotion grew louder as the farmers protested at the top of their lungs.

“I wish to thank you for your generosity and to promise you that if you should change your minds about this gift, I will have to make an example of one of your sons, to encourage you to continue your generosity until we have completed this tower that will reach up to the heavens.

As you can see, the tower is going to be completed soon because of your help. It will demonstrate the greatness of your king and his kingdom and new gods that I choose for us to worship.”

The commotion raised by the farmers continued to grow even louder in protest to what they were hearing.

“I can see that there are those among you who are not in complete agreement with my wishes, and are perhaps clinging to those old superstitions about the God of Noah. I am greater than any God of Noah; I am Nimrod, the most powerful warrior of all time. I will now show you that I mean what I say. Guards, take the boy that was selected to serve as a sacrifice to my will.”

The guards grabbed Joktan and pulled him to the center of the courtyard. He was surrounded by guards with spears pointed at him. Now instead of being filled with confidence, Joktan was suddenly filled with fear as he stared at the guards and their weapons.

The king resumed his speech.

“This tower and this city are a tribute to me, your king. You all owe me everything you have because I am the king. This tower is a tribute to me and what I can do. I will show you what happens to the sons of those that choose their mythical god over their service to me. Guards, exebla ga zornin!”

Suddenly no one could understand the king’s words any longer. When the guards asked each other what the king said, they couldn’t understand each other either.

The same thing was happening all over town and up on the tower. The workers couldn’t understand the foremen or each other, and they began to go back down to the ground where everyone was shouting at the tops of their lungs. Slowly small groups of those that could understand each other began to form and move off in one direction or another.

The same thing happened in the courtyard. The king continued to shout at the top of his lungs, but with so many other people doing the same he could not be heard. The sons and the fathers broke free from the confused guards.

Eber and Adah found Peleg. They were relieved they could still understand each other in their normal language. Together they looked until they found Joktan and sadly found that they could no longer understand him or he them. After a number of fruitless attempts to talk with him, Joktan grew angry and ran away.

When Eber and Peleg got home, they discovered that they same thing had happened there. Families were scattered all over the land as they tried to find groups of people they could communicate with. They found Joktan with a group of people that understood him, and he eventually migrated away from Babel with them, never to see his family again.

God was faithful and saved those who trusted in him. The others were scattered around the world as He had originally commanded. When you believe and obey, God is faithful, just you wait and see.

Enoch and Noah – Part 10

Over the next few weeks, Grampa and I spent a lot of time looking out the window. We could see more and more land every day. Then one day, the ark lurched again, hard. I ran up to the top deck, looked all around and saw that most of the water was gone. We had run aground. The ark settled at an angle with the bow pointing up slightly. We all gathered with Grampa at the door. It was like when we first started. We stood there silently while Grampa prayed. Then he quietly said, “Yes, Lord.” And then he said, “Shem, Ham, Japheth … open the door.” Pop and my uncles did just that.

It opened with a large creak and then it fell open to the ground with a huge “THUD!” Then the sunlight began streaming in so brightly it nearly blinded us for a while. When I could finally see, I was amazed by the rich, lush green of the earth and the sparkling blue of the sky. Then, I saw a huge rainbow growing across the whole sky that just took my breath away.

I looked up in the sky and prayed to the Lord, “Lord, I see now that you have been taking care of us all along. Please forgive me for not trusting you. Thank you for all you have done and, please, help me to obey you completely from now on.”

Grampa built an altar for a sacrifice while Pop and my uncles began to open the pens so the animals could leave.

They all walked out peacefully just like they went in. Adah flew to me when I opened the bird pen. I walked outside with her on my shoulder. We stood there together for several minutes and then I heard what sounded like a dove singing. It was the same tune I had played on my flute so many times. It was Jubal! He had come back for his mate. Adah took off and flew up to meet him. They circled around several times and then flew off together. I never saw them again.

Then I heard a sound I hadn’t heard for a while. The elephants were coming off the ark and they walked right toward me. One of them stopped, looked right at me, touched my shoulder gently with his trunk and then walked away quickly while making his horn sound. I smiled and waved and off they went to wherever God was sending them.

I felt a hand on each shoulder. I looked up and saw Papa on my left and Grampa on my right. They were both looking out at the animals as they trailed into the distance and the rainbow in the sky.

Papa leaned down and said, “Well, Enoch, you have grown up a lot on this trip. I am very proud of you.”

Grampa then said, “And so am I. I have seen you grow in your faith in the Lord. What can you tell us about what you have learned?”

I looked at each one of them and then out on the valley again, “I learned that God keeps His promises. He kept us safe on the ark and I learned, to simply trust Him and obey because like Grampa always says: God is faithful, just you wait and see.”

We all laughed together.

That was the end of our journey on the ark, but it was the beginning of our brand new life.

The End

Enoch and Noah – Part 9

The next night after supper, I went to the bird pen like I did every evening and began to play my flute. Jubal and Adah came to sit and sing with me like they always do. I coaxed them into a special cage I had made for them. Then I grabbed a small bag of feed and took them down into one of the lower holds near where the elephant was that took care of me when I had broken my leg.

I hung the cage from a hook on a beam that I could reach from the ladder. I sat and played for them a little while to help them feel at home but, this time they didn’t sing along. That bothered me but I shrugged it off and went back to my families’ cabin to go to sleep for the night. Or, at least, I tried to sleep. I kept having a dream that we never got off the ark because Grampa couldn’t send off the doves the way the Lord had told him to.

I kept tossing and turning, having the same dream over and over again. Then I heard it. “Enoch.” It was almost too quiet to hear at first and then I thought it was Pop calling me. But the next time I heard it, I knew it was not Pop or Grampa.

“Enoch,” it said for the third time.

“Yes?”

“Enoch, do you trust your Grampa?”

I was almost afraid to answer. Then I heard my voice saying, “Yes, yes I do.”

“Enoch, do you trust your Grampa?”

“Yes, sir I do.”

“Do you trust the Lord your Grampa’s God?”

That scared me but still I answered, “Yes sir, I do.”

“Enoch, do you trust the Lord as your God?”

That scared me even more, but still I answered, “Yes sir, I do.”

“Then trust and obey.”

At that I felt ashamed, I did trust Grampa and I needed to trust the Lord too. I knew then my fear for Jubal and Adah was really a lack of trust in Grampa and the Lord. I got up right away and ran quickly down to where I had hung the cage. I returned to the bird pen and released them.

I went back to bed, prayed to the Lord and told Him I was sorry for not trusting Him. Then I slept very well the rest of the night.

In the morning Grampa came to get me and said, “It is time.” Grampa had released a raven the day before and after several hours, it came back. Today it was Jubal’s turn.

We went to the bird pen and got the cage I had used for the birds the night before. As soon as I opened it, Jubal flew right in just like he knew he had a job to do.

Grampa and I went to the upper window, opened the cage and Jubal flew right out. We stood there and waited. My mom brought us some food for lunch after we had waited several hours. Just as we were sitting down to eat, Jubal came back. I was so excited I forgot to eat my lunch. I fed most of it to Jubal who was very tired and hungry.

A week later, we did it again. This time Grampa wanted to send Adah. I wasn’t afraid this time. We did the same thing. We released Adah in the morning and then waited. She did not come back by lunch time. All afternoon we waited. Grampa sat and prayed and I played my flute. Suddenly there was a flutter of wings in the window. Adah had returned and she had a leaf in her beak. Grampa reached up with an open hand and Adah dropped the leaf into his hand.

Grampa smiled and showed it to me. It was an olive leaf. The flood had gone down enough for things to be growing again.

A week later, we did it again. This time Grampa wanted to send Jubal again. I thought it would be like the last two times. We released Jubal in the morning and then waited. He did not come back by lunch time. We waited all afternoon and nothing. He never came back.

The Story of Leaving the Ninety and Nine to Find the One – Part Two – Conclusion

Stanley:                       Well, I sang the song to myself and then I prayed for awhile. I asked Jesus to send someone to find me. I sang the song to myself again a couple of times, and I prayed again. I hollered help a couple of times too, but, mostly I prayed. And you know what happened then?

Mr. Mathisen:             No, I don’t Stanley. What happened then?

Stanley:                       Well, after I prayed, I began to feel really calm and peaceful. It was like Jesus was telling me that He would answer my prayer. Just then, I heard a voice calling my name, and I looked up and there was Mr. Christos. He was kneeling at the top of the cliff and looking down at me. I couldn’t believe it. I had just prayed and sang and there he was.

Mr. Mathisen:             Jesus was really watching out for you wasn’t He?

Stanley:                       He sure was! Mr. Christos yelled down to me to ask if I was all right. I told him that I was, and he told me to not move and that he would be right back.

He went away for a couple of minutes and came back with a rope. He tied one end around a tree and the other around his waist. Then he slowly lowered himself down that cliff until he was beside me. He had me climb onto him in the front. I put my arms around his neck and hung on tight. Then he used his arms and legs and pulled us both back up that cliff. It was really slow, but I was never scared. I knew that Mr. Christos had left all the other kids and came looking for me and then he rescued me. I was so happy that I almost cried.

When we got to the top, we backed up against a tree and just sat up there at the top of the cliff for a few minutes while he got his breath back and I just sat real close to him. He risked his life to save me. He left all the others to come find me. Then he gave me a quick hug and told me to never, ever scare him like that again. I quietly said “Ok”, and then we went to find the others.

He never got mad at me at all.

Mr. Mathisen:             Stanley, did you know that our story today is the Parable of the Lost Sheep?

Stanley:                       No. Are you kidding?

Mr. Mathisen:             Nope. Listen to this. It is from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, verses 4 through 7.

4 “If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? 5 And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. 6 When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found. 7 In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

Stanley:                       That’s just like what happened to me. My legs were a little shaky from being cramped up on the ledge and Mr. Christos carried me until I could walk by myself and then when we got back to the others, he told everyone what happened and how glad he was that he found me and that I was ok and back with my class. Everyone else was happy too. We had a great time the rest of the day. I made real sure that I stayed with everyone else, and I could see Mr. Christos keeping an extra sharp eye on me all the time. That made me feel real good too.

Mr. Mathisen:             Well Stanley, what lesson did you learn?

Stanley:                       I learned that whenever I get myself into trouble, the very first thing that I should do is to pray. God will always help me.

Mr. Mathisen: That sounds like a pretty good lesson to learn if you ask me.

Abram Goes to War – Part 6

Final installment of this story.

#  #  #

The next morning they headed back toward Sodom to return Lot, his family and his good back home.

When they got near to Sodom, the king of Sodom came out to meet Abram in the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High, brought Abram some bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed Abram with this blessing: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you.” Then Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the goods he had recovered.

The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give back my people who were captured. But you may keep for yourself all the goods you have recovered.” Abram replied to the king of Sodom, “I solemnly swear to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise, you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’ I will accept only what my young warriors have already eaten, and I request that you give a fair share of the goods to my allies—Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre.”

Kenan had watched all of this with great interest. He thought to himself, “I would like to learn more about this God of Abram. He answered my prayer the night I was attacked by the wild boar, maybe He will answer me again if I ask for something.”

Kenan thought for a minute and then looked up into the sky and said, “Lord, God of Abram, I would like to follow you like Abram does. Please let me go with him to Hebron instead of back to Sodom with my master Lot.”

Now he began walking with purpose to find Abram. He found him talking to his nephew so he stood by quietly and waited for an opportunity to talk.

After several minutes, Abram noticed him standing there, reached over and put his arm around Kenan’s shoulders and said, “Lot, I’ve become very fond of this young warrior. Would you mind if he came with me? I will pay you a fair value for him.”

Lot looked at Kenan and said, “Uncle, I couldn’t accept payment for him. Let me give him to you as a gift for rescuing us from our enemies.”

Abram smiled and said, “I accept. We were glad to be able to help. We had a nice little adventure, didn’t we Kenan?” Abram smiled broadly.

“Yes, my lord, we did”

Kenan thought to himself that Abram was right when he said, “God is faithful, just you wait and see.”

Kenan looked up into the sky and whispered a prayer, “Lord God of Abram, I take you as my God now too. You have shown me that you are faithful and to be trusted. I am yours to command.”

Kenan continued the trip back to Hebron with a spring in his step and a broad grin appeared on his face.