Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

Probably he got caught in a steel trap like this one over here," their dad said, pointing to an exhibit in the next case.
"But how could he get free from that?" Julie asked.

Continue Reading...

– posted 12.04.2009

The Unpayable Debt (2)

A Character story about forgiveness.

"Wanna come over and mess around?" Jimmy asked Carl as they stuffed their books into their lockers.
"Yeah, I'd love it, but I can't. I have to work for Mr. Maloney after school to pay him back for messing up his bike."
"Man, that's a bummer. He's got a lot of money. Why don't you just not show up. What's he gunna do about it?"
"I wish I could. But my dad would find out and the trouble I'd get from that wouldn't be worth it! I figure if I work hard for a few days, I should be able to get it paid off. I'll probably be able to play next week."
After school Carl checked the rear tire of his bike. Sure enough, it was solid. I must have done a good job patching that old thing, he said to himself. He hopped on the seat and road slowly down the street toward Mr. Maloney's sports shop. He was afraid he would get an hour lecture about being kind to his sister and he didn't want to hear that. She's the one who needs that anyway, he told himself. She's the one who tattled and got me into this mess. Finally he arrived at the store and parked his old bike in back. Before entering, he practiced smiling and saying 'Hi' in a friendly way. Then he marched boldly into the store.
"Hi, Mr. Maloney. I'm here for my first day of work. What do you want me to do?"
"Hello, Carl. Thank you for being prompt," Mr. Maloney said with a smile. "I want you to know the arrangements I have made. I figured out the cost of fixing the bike and of how much you will earn toward that debt by working hard. If you can work for an hour each day after school, I figure you will have the bike damage paid in.. uh.. about three months."
"Three months?" Carl gasped. "That'll be almost Christmas!"
"Yes, I suppose so," Mr. Maloney shrugged, "maybe even later. Right now I would like you to get some soapy water, a sponge, and the squeegee and wash the front windows. You'll find the things in the back closet."
Carl got the supplies and began to rub the sponge over the dusty glass. I can't believe it, he muttered to himself. Three whole months without play time. I'll be almost too old to play by then. I wonder if this is a form of child slavery. Well, nothing I can do about it. Maybe if I do my best anyway, he'll forget this whole thing like he did at first.
Carl rushed to the shop after school each day and worked as hard as possible. But at the end of the first week, he had only paid off one week. Another 12 weeks seemed so long. To rub salt in his wound, every day when he got home, his little sister Janice would greet him with, "Can I ride your bike, Carl? I'll be careful with it. Honest." And every day Carl would answer with, "No, you little brat. You didn't take care of it when I did let you ride it and you still haven't paid me for the flat you made. So bug off. You're not riding my bike," or words to that effect. The more he saw her, the madder he got at her. How was he going to get that four dollars out of her?
At the end of the second week, Carl rode by the other guys playing baseball while he was going to work. He was so mad that when he got home, he screamed at Janice and pushed her down. His sister ran crying to her mother, and soon Carl was grounded for the whole weekend. What did I do to deserve such a brat for a sister, he asked himself over and over.
By the start of the third week, Carl lost all hope of cutting his "sentence" shorter. He would be a slave to Mr. Maloney until late into the fall, and by then it would be too cold to play outside. To make it even worse, if he broke something in the store, Mr. Maloney added that to his bill. That Monday, he shoved open the shop door and shuffled down the isle to get his usual orders for the day.
"Hi, Carl. How are you today?" Mr. Maloney greeted in his usual friendly manner.
"O.K. I guess," he muttered.
"Say, Carl, I have a different kind of job for you today. Are you interested?"
"Sure, anything," Carl brightened. "I've washed those windows so much, I think the glass is getting thinner."
"Well, I don't know about that, but, well, anyway. I don't need you around the store for a while. However, I have a friend who is, well, rather lonely. I will count it as work time for me if you will spend some time playing with my friend, letting my friend ride your bike, you know, things like that, doing anything my little friend likes to do."
"Are you serious? You mean I can play and I get paid for it? Wow, it's a deal!" Maybe I'll get to play baseball after all, he said to himself.
"Great. You can start today. I'll trust you to keep your hours and report them to me at the end of the week. But there's one condition. My friend must not find out that you are doing this to pay me. You must keep that a secret. Is it a deal?"
"It's a deal! Who is he, and where does he live?"
"My friend's name is on this paper here. Go ahead. Look at it."
Carl grabbed the paper and unfolded it quickly. He glanced at the paper and then cried out in shock, "Janice? You can't be serious! I have to play with my sister?"
"You agreed-"
"Yeah, but I didn't know it was gunna be my sister!"
"Nevertheless, you did promise. And I trust you to be a man of your word, Carl. I will be looking for you on Friday to report your hours. Have a good day, my boy."
(to be continued)

In First John 4:20, we are told, If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother (or sister), he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother (or sister) whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? Do you think Carl really loved God? Why or why not?