The Adventures of Billy and Bobby
Book 3, Chapter 13
by Greg Wright
Exhausted and weak from the day's events, Reggie quickly fell into a deep sleep on Pastor Felix's couch, but his sleep was far from restful. Over and over again, his dreams reconstructed the scene of the gang members going in and out of his mother's house. He could only guess at what had happened to his mother. Was she there at the time? Did the gang members hurt her? Then, he replayed the scene where one of them stopped to shoot at him, grazing his shoulder. Next, his dreams moved on to his situation now, away from his family and friends, running for his life. In one dream, he dodged gun shots, raced down a dark alley, and dove into a dumpster, only to be found by his pursuers. Cautiously, they opened the lid of the dumpster. Then they smiled broadly as they stared down at Reggie. He lay paralyzed, frozen by fear. Reggie could feel something clawing at his chest. Perhaps it was a dumpster rat. What did it matter now, soon life would be over. The gangsters moved slowly, relishing the moment of their revenge, as they aimed their guns. The clawing intensified. Suddenly, Reggie awakened. There in his face, claws implanted in Reggie's chest, positioned as if ready to pounce, lay the smokey gray form of Boo, Felix's persian cat. But in Reggie's semi-conscious state, and with Boo's large yellow eyes, she more closely resembled some grizzly monster from a child's nightmare. Reggie screamed and Boo hissed violently. Then she jumped away just in time to avoid Reggie's flailing arms. Positioned safely on top of the piano, she unaffectedly licked herself.
Mrs. Pasquali walked into the living room. "Oh my, we forgot to warn you about Boo. She loves to scare people as they wake up in the morning. If it's any consolation, you're not her first victim."
"Uh, that's okay," Reggie replied, somewhat embarrassed that he had been frightened by a cat. "I think I'll go outside and check on my bike."
"Okay," Mrs. Pasquali responded. "I hope you like pancakes. They'll be ready in a few minutes. Felix went to the market to get some bacon."
"Oh, that sounds great!" Reggie responded, surprised by Mrs. Pasquali's early morning cheerfulness.
Reggie found where Felix had taken the bike out of the truck and placed it beside the shed. Then, checking it over, he looked mournfully at the chain. It was drooping. He wondered how he had made it sixty miles with a chain that loose. Then, he realized that the chain probably was not that loose when he started out. Anyway, it had to be fixed.
Reggie still had his tools from his trip to Bobby's. He took out a wrench and loosened the back wheel. Then, he pushed the wheel backwards until the chain was tight. Next, holding the wheel in place with one hand, he tightened the nuts around it. However, when he got back on the bike, he found that the chain was almost as loose as it was before. About this time, Felix drove up.
"Did your bike survive the night?" Felix asked.
"It's just the chain, I can't seem to get it tight enough."
"Oh, I know what to do for that," Felix offered. "Let's go eat, and then I'll help you after breakfast."
Once Reggie had his pancakes piled high and covered with syrup, Felix tried to find out more about Reggie's background.
"So, how long have you been a Christian?"
"Not long, I'm afraid. Only a few weeks. I'm not sure I would have taken the plunge if I had known it was going to be this hard."
"Is it worth it?"
"Oh absolutely. No matter what happens to me physically, it's really cool to know that Jesus will take me to heaven someday. What I mean, is if I had known that I would be shot at and have to flee for my life, perhaps I wouldn't have had the courage to trust Jesus. Even now, I wonder if I will last."
"How did you become a Christian?"
"I'm not really sure. In fact, I'm still very surprised that I became a Christian. One day I was the main school bully and a gang leader; the next day I was kneeling beside my enemy asking Jesus to save me. Oh yeah, it had a lot to do with a guy named Bobby, and indirectly, with another kid named Daniel."
"It's a long story but I'll try to keep it short. Daniel was a kind of geeky kid who moved down from Atlanta, the sort of kid we loved to make sport of. But when my buddies and I went after Daniel, Bobby stood up for him. One day we ambushed Bobby; we were going to hurt him bad. But everything that could go wrong did, and we ended up with the worst end of the confrontation. Later, I was riding my bike, which really was a bike I had stolen from Bobby. I gleefully rubbed it in his face by riding right through the middle of a mud puddle between Bobby and Daniel and splattering them with mud. But, then I had a wreck where I cut my arm so badly that I almost bled to death. Bobby used pressure point techniques to slow down the bleeding while Daniel went to flag down someone to help us. An ambulance came and I had to spend the night in the hospital. I hate hospitals, but the worst thing was realizing that I owed my life to someone I considered an enemy. But I really lost it when a few days later Bobby, accompanied by Daniel, brought back to my house not only the bike I had stolen from him, but presented it as a gift. I almost cried, but I couldn't let him see that. So, I ran inside and grabbed the one thing that most represented the bad kid that I was. I grabbed my bong, threw it down in front of Bobby, and crushed it into a thousand pieces."
"Bobby must have been quite startled," Mrs. Pasquali commented.
"I told him that I wasn't going to be the same kid, anymore. He didn't want to believe me at first, but when he was finally convinced, he sat down with me and explained God's free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. From, that day forward, I have tried to live for Jesus. But, it's so hard. And, my greatest fear is that I won't last."
"You said you were surprised that you became a Christian," Felix observed. "Did you become a Christian as a result of Bobby's kindness or as a result of God working in your heart?"
Reggie had to think for a minute. "I thought it was because of Bobby's kindness. But now that I think about it, normally I would have interpreted Bobby's actions as either a sign of weakness or naive stupidity. It must have been God."
"You are right to be surprised by the way God renews the human heart. When God renews the human heart, this is called being born again. When Jesus tried to describe what it meant to be born again to Nicodemus, he said that the wind blows wherever, and you hear it, but you can't tell where it comes from or where it's going. It's that way for everyone who is reborn through the spirit."
"So, God used Bobby and Daniel, but it was really His work," Reggie exclaimed.
"You've got it!" Felix agreed. "When you were able to throw down that bong and walk away from your gang, it was the natural response to what God had already done in your heart, having changed your heart so that you would turn away from your sin in disgust and turn towards God in faith, trust, and obedience. Is this what you've done?"
"Yes, so far, but how long can I last. I don't know how long I can keep this up. I need help!"
"Help is here. Let's go get your bike and I'll explain." Finding Reggie's bike leaning against a tree, Felix picked held it up by the handlebars.
"You know what these are," Felix stated.
"Handle bars," Reggie answered.
"Yes, and you use the handle bars to steer towards the right direction and away from the wrong direction. Similarly, when you repent of your sin, you turn away from your sin and turn towards God. To turn towards God is to obey him. But, in order to obey him you have to know what is in his book. What is God's book?"
"Yes, the Bible reveals all that we need to know in this life about God and what he requires of us. Do you have one?"
"I'll get you one. You need to know this book as if your life depended on it. Only then will you know which direction you should turn your handlebars. The Psalmist says that he hides God's word in his heart so that he won't sin against God."
Felix continued. "Not only do we need to know where to steer, we also need to know when to quickly put on breaks. It is important to have other friends who are Christians so that you can encourage each other and hold each other accountable. True Christian friends won't let you fall into sin without confronting you. Similarly, if you go to a church that preaches God's word, you will learn when God's word requires that you put on the brakes. Some people try to get as close to sin as possible without actually doing it. But, the Bible says to avoid even the appearance of evil. You can save yourself a great deal of grief by just knowing when to apply the brakes.
Then, we have the pedals. We all know that you are not going to go anywhere unless you pedal. Following God implies struggle; it's an uphill battle. Going downhill is symbolic of returning to your old sinful ways. But, like you've suggested, pedaling uphill all the time gets very tiring. Your prayers and your faith will sustain you during difficult times. Although God already knows what you need before you pray, he commands us to pray. This serves to remind us that we depend on him. Similarly, remember that your faith is in the one who conquered death itself."
"But, I donít feel anything right now, unless you count fear," Reggie objected.
"Reggie, you are not going to have any problems that are too big for God. And remember, the object of your faith is God. Don't rely on feelings and experiences. Your faith is in the divine person Jesus Christ. Faith and prayer will sustain you so that you can say with Paul the Apostle, I struggle with all his energy that works in me mightily. And, for this struggle, God has given us a promise. He will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can stand but rather, when we are tempted, he will always provide a way for us to avoid sin."
"Speaking of sin," Felix continued, "it is important for us to know that sin once enslaved us. Before, you were a slave to sin. Now, as a new Christian you are a slave to righteousness. Sometimes chains are used to illustrate slavery. Your bike chain will respond to your pedaling as long as the rear tire is back far enough to keep it tight. But, once that chain comes loose, our pedaling becomes worthless. No matter how good a job you do of tightening that back tire, sooner or later it is going to come loose and the chain is going to sag. That's when you need a chain tenser. Watch this."
Felix carefully loosened the nuts holding the rear tire. Then he placed a chain tenser between the back tire and frame. While the chain tenser held the tire in place, Felix tightened the nuts around the back wheel. When he released the chain tenser, the wheel stayed in place and the chain remained tight.
Felix continued. "When that back tire comes loose, it is like our old sinful habits, the part of us that continues to want to live for ourselves rather than for God. When our sinful habits break loose, The Holy Spirit will convict us of our sins. He is our chain tenser. When we confess our sins, God forgives us. We keep our chain tight when we resist temptation. God gave us The Holy Spirit to be a teacher and helper. You couldn't hold that rear tire tight enough by yourself, but with The Holy Spirit as your helper, you can do whatever you need to do. He will prompt you when your back tire is getting too loose. If you are a true believer, you will welcome having The Holy Spirit as your chain tenser, and you will desire to have the chain that binds you to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as secure as possible."
"Okay," Reggie said, "let me see if I can remember all this. We use the handlebars to turn away from sin and turn towards God. But to know which direction to steer we have to know the Bible."
"We use the brakes for stopping, to avoid falling into sin. We learn when to put on the brakes through the Bible, but also through Christian friends and the church."
"We use the pedals to keep the bike moving. Our strength is sustained through dependence on God by prayer and our faith in Jesus Christ."
"The chain represents our enslavement. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness."
"The rear tire is like our sinful nature. Every now and then it gets loose and makes the chain sag."
"The Holy Spirit is our chain tenser. When we slip into sin, he wakes us up so that we can repent and ask forgiveness. Then, he makes us strong so that we can resist temptation and hold and tighten the rear tire to its proper place."
"Very good, Reggie. So, who's your helper?"
"The Holy Spirit," Reggie answered, "he's my chain tenser, and he'll give me the help I need to live a godly life."
"Thatís right Reggie, through our chain tenser, The Holy Spirit, we can say along with the Apostle Paul, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."
"Felix, thanks for explaining this to me; I think I understand now. But thereís one other thing on my mind."
"Felix," Reggie continued, "you've been so good to me, I hate to ask for anything else. But, I'm worried about my mom. She doesn't have a phone, but I would like to call our neighbor and find out if she knows where my mom is and whether she is okay?"
"Reggie, I'm glad you want to call your mom. I'm sure she is worried about you, too. Get in the truck and we'll go to my office; you can use the phone there. I may need to talk to her as well. We've got some big decisions to make. But no matter what happens, you'll never be alone. Let's go."