The Adventures of Billy and Bobby
Book 3, Chapter 10
A Lesson From Gizmo
by Greg Wright

The school day was over and Daniel raced home. It wasn't that school went badly that day, this wasn't why Daniel hurried home, although he had worried when he found out that Bobby was sick and would stay home. He had worried about the bullies; how would they treat him if Bobby wasn't around. But he had no trouble with Reggie, although Reggie was having his own trouble with Ross and Ronald. They were not happy that Reggie was a Christian, and they were especially miffed when prevented them from robbing and harassing other kids. In fact, Ross and Ronald were so occupied with Reggie that they left Daniel alone. Even physical education class went better than usual. They played soccer and Reggie passed the ball to Daniel several times, whenever Daniel was close to the net. Unfortunately, Daniel always missed and his team groaned.

Some of them chided Reggie. "Why do you pass to Daniel; he always misses."

Daniel cringed when Reggie put his hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry about them," Reggie consoled. "This is more about technique than strength and coordination. When you take a shot in front of the goal, you need to kick with your laces, that's all. You're kicking with your toe; that's why you keep missing. Sometime I'll come over to your house and help you practice.

The other kids on the team just kind of shrugged their shoulders and asked. "Is this the same Reggie?"

Actually, the only bad thing that happened at school that day was lunch. Daniel was always amazed at how the school never served boiled spinach except while the yard was being mowed. And, the concoction that was supposed to be meat loaf, he was sure was nothing more than flavored, recycled cardboard. So, he ate very little, and now he was starved.

When he arrived at his back door, he was out of breath from running. But, as he unlocked the door he remembered another obstacle between him and the refrigerator, Gizmo. Gizmo was his miniature poodle. Jet black, champion sired, and the winner of many dog shows, she was royalty and she knew it. Normally, as soon as she heard Daniel's footsteps she would whine so pitifully, that Daniel would have to feed her first, to have any peace at all.

"This time," Daniel thought, "maybe if I'm really quiet, she won't hear me." Slowly Daniel unlocked the back door. Then, as he opened it, the door squeaked. But, there was no sound from Gizmo. Then, leaving the door open, he tiptoed over to the refrigerator and opened the door, revealing all the finer condiments and elements of an afternoon snack: cream cheese, jelly, mustard, pickles, bologna, cheese, ketchup, and sardines. But, Daniel stuck with his usual fare, a bologna and jelly sandwich.

Finished at last, he wondered why Gizmo was so quiet, and walked down to the basement to check on her. By now, he fully expected Gizmo to come bouncing and running. But still, there was no Gizmo. He looked behind all the furniture and in every closet and room. He even checked all the boxes that were close to the floor.

Finally, he noticed that the clothes dryer was out of place and that the air escape had been disconnected from the wall, leaving a hole just small enough for a poodle to slide through.

"She's out!" Daniel yelled, as he raced out the basement door calling, "Gizmo, Gizmo."

He looked all around his yard, and having no success, he left a note for his Mom and went down the street.

Billy ran out his front door when he heard Daniel. "What's wrong?"

"Gizmo is out. I've got to find here fast. She is so small, if another dog gets to her first, it could be a disaster."

"I'll help you look for her. Let's get Bobby to help."

"Bobby's sick."

"He's not sick anymore; he just had some kind of 24 hour thing. He's okay now."

With Bobby joining in, the three boys searched up and down the street.

"Hey, let's get the Terlouws to help, Bobby suggested."

After the Terlouws joined them; Jeremy, John Mark, and Joseph; they decided to split up and meet back at Daniel's house in an hour. Daniel went with Billy.

The hour was almost up when Billy and Daniel were met by a seven-year-old named Travis. From Billy's perspective, Travis was the neighborhood nerd, or "nerdling", as he preferred to call him. He was extremely inquisitive and always wanted to know what Billy was doing and why. And, if there was any way, he was quick to find something to argue about.

"Hey, do you guys want to see a real scaredy cat?" Travis yelled.

"Go away Travis," Billy yelled back. "We're busy."

"What are you doing?"

"Not now Travis, we're trying to find Daniel's dog."

"What does it look like?" Travis asked.

"She's a small black poodle with a red collar," Daniel responded.

"Your dog's a real scaredy cat," Travis accused.

"How would you know?" Daniel asked, surprised.

"Oh, he just wants to argue and waste our time," Billy responded.

But Travis was persistently. "Come on guys, you've got to see this."

Reluctantly, Daniel and Billy followed Travis around to his back yard. There, they found Gizmo, standing on top of a birdbath, barking at a giant yellow tabby cat on the ground. The cat just sat there, looking up at Gizmo, with it's tail rapidly flipping. Daniel ran over to Gizmo and picked her up and hugged her.

"Thanks Travis, you found my dog."

"Sure," Travis responded, "but why would anyone want a dog like that, a dog who is even afraid of cats?"

"Oh, she's very smart," Daniel responded. "And, she does very well in dog shows."

"Okay, but wouldn't you rather have a bigger dog who was just as smart?"

"No, not at all."

"But Gizmo is so small," Travis continued, "if you played roughly with her, you'd probably hurt her. You might as well have a cat. My cat could whip your dog any day."

"Travis, I guess I love Gizmo because she's my dog. And for me, she's just right. But most important, now we've found her and she's safe."

Then Billy looked at his watch and declared, "It's time."

To Billy's chagrin, Travis followed them back to Daniel's house. By now, all the other boys were there, as well, and they listened with great delight as Travis explained what had happened at the birdbath.

When Daniel's mother returned home from work, she was very pleased with how the boys had worked together to help Daniel find Gizmo and wanted to reward them. So, she invited all the boys, including Travis, to return that evening for a bonfire and marshmellow roast.

At the bonfire, because Travis was the smallest, he felt the most comfortable sitting next to Daniel, who was next in size.

"I know why you like Gizmo so much," Travis began.

"Why is that?"

"Because you two are so much alike."

This caught Daniel off guard as memories of being called Fifi sped through his mind. But, he kept his cool.

Travis went on. "After all, you have curly hair just like Gizmo."

"That's true," Daniel agreed.

"You're both smart. At least, that's what Billy says."

"Okay," Daniel said, not wanting to disagree.

"And, you're both small for your breed."

"I guess that's true," Daniel answered, "and neither one of us is any good at soccer."

"Huh?" Daniel laughed at the puzzled look on Travis' face.

Then, he continued. "There is one difference, Travis. Gizmo was lost, but not anymore. I'm still lost."

"What do you mean you're lost?"

"Do you believe in God, Travis? Do you believe he really has a son named Jesus, and that Jesus loved us so much that he died for us?"

"I don't know; I think my mom does."

"Do you believe that God raised Jesus back to life and that, even now, Jesus is looking for us, the same way that we were all out looking for Gizmo. If that's the case, I'm lost, just like Gizmo was, and I don't want to be lost anymore. I want Jesus to find me."

With that said, Daniel sprang to his feet. "Billy, Bobby, follow me; we've got to talk."

Daniel continued. "Guys listen. I've been thinking about what you've been telling me, and I don't want to be lost anymore. I'm ready to become a Christian and to have Jesus as my boss and coach."

"Are you serious?" Bobby asked, incredulously.

"Let's do it," Billy cheered.

The boys were gone for about fifteen minutes.

When they returned, Billy and Bobby gathered everyone together so that Daniel could speak to them.

As he stood by the fire, Daniel spoke. "Friends, tonight we are here to celebrate finding Gizmo. And, I'm very grateful to everyone who helped. Gizmo was lost and in great danger, but thanks to you, she has been found and is safely here with us. And, although to most people, she would just be another dog, to me she is special, because she is my dog."

"But, Gizmo is not the only one who was lost tonight. I was lost, as well, not geographically, but spiritually. I was determined to live my life my own way and to leave Jesus out of it."

"But tonight, I realized that all this time, Jesus has been looking for me. And, he even enlisted the help of Billy and Bobby to find me. And, although I spurned their attempts to tell me about Jesus, a few minutes ago, with their help..." Daniel's voice began to crack with emotion.

"With their help," he continued, "I invited Jesus to come into my heart and to be my boss and coach. And, I wanted you, the people I have learned to trust, to be the first to know, that today I am a Christian."

Daniel didn't get to finish his last sentence, drowned out by cheers and applause that so aroused the neighbors that they began to turn on their outside lights and look out their windows. Then, the boys all embraced Daniel, not with the gentle hugs of older relatives, but with the vigorous, joyful bear hugs that say more from a boy's heart than could be said with a thousand words.

Daniel had never been happier. He felt warm on the inside and loved and accepted on the outside

Then, Travis tugged on Daniel's sleeve. "Daniel, the fire's about to go out."

Daniel, looking over and seeing that Travis was right, yelled, "I'll be right back."

He returned with an armload of magazines. There were all kinds of fitness and muscle magazines. In the past, Daniel spent hours looking at these, not to find exercise techniques, but to look at the bodies pictures there, longing to look like them and mourning and loathing his own appearance.

"Travis, help me put these in the fire."

"No, don't throw these away," Travis pleaded. "These are cool."

"No Travis," Daniel insisted, "God has work he wants you to do and when he made you, he made you just right to do it. Without God, these guys are nothing but skin, bones, and muscle. But when Jesus finds us and comes to live inside of us, he makes us real. Over time, he makes us more like himself."

Reluctantly, Travis put the last magazine on the fire. For several minutes, they both watched as the ashes rose and floated away.

Then, Travis tugged on Daniel's sleeve again. "Daniel, I want Jesus to find me too."

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