Boredom comes quickly to a twelve-year-old boy. A week’s stay with relatives in the rural Illinois countryside seemed to have all the prerequisites.
At that age, summer is supposed to be about fishing, summer camp, and bicycle rides. Up till then, the trip north to visit unfamiliar kin had offered none of them. There had been that episode with the tractor on the farm in Kansas, but otherwise, there didn’t seem to be much promise of anything more stimulating than conversations around the dinner table for the next several days.
But, in a moment, all of that appeared as if it were going to change. The boy’s older brother burst through the door exclaiming about the mini-bike in the barn.
“They said we could ride it as long as the gasoline lasts!”
Up and down the long gravel driveway to the county road they roared, one after another. Taking turns wouldn’t be all that bad, the boy reasoned, as long as he knew another turn would come.
It didn’t. Come, that is.
Before the lad had even gotten a second ride, the little Briggs and Stratton motor sputtered and the vehicle lurched forward another yard or two as it died under his brother. Muttering and kicking the rocks beneath his feet, the frustrated kid wandered out to help push it back along the lengthy lane. Profound disappointment was virtually painted on his face, and his slumped shoulders didn’t brighten the picture one bit.
They walked the little two-wheeler back to the barn, leaving it where they had found it. A couple of gas cans were lying nearby, but shaking them yielded nothing at all. They were out of gas.
Boredom seemed inevitable once more. Oh well, perhaps there was a book or two to read somewhere.
Suddenly, a thought came to the youngster. Quietly, without telling anyone else, he found the old uncle (probably all of forty-five years of age) sitting by himself in the living room.
Explaining his problem, the boy wondered aloud if more gasoline could be found anywhere on the property. The old man smiled and got up from his seat, motioning the boy to follow him. They stopped at the barn and his uncle told him to roll the inoperable machine outside.
Not far away, there was a rust-covered steel tank lying on its side atop a platform five or six feet in the air. Funny—he hadn’t noticed that tank there before.
“There’s gas in here. You’ll have plenty for anything you want to do with that tiny thing.” His uncle jerked his chin toward the little two-wheeler as he said the words.
Nothing happened. No gas came out.
The boy was about to turn the handlebars and push the useless thing back to the barn when his uncle stopped him. Climbing up to the platform nimbly, especially so, given his advanced age, he lifted up the back end of the tank and indicated that the boy should squeeze the lever on the nozzle again.
Within moments, the tank was filled with gas. The mini-bike roared to life with just one pull of the starting rope and he was off!
The little machine hardly stood still during daylight hours for the rest of the week. Every time it needed to be refueled, the boy (or one of his brothers) clambered up to the platform and tipped the tank up.
They never ran out of gas. Never.
For the rest of the week, the boy didn’t worry about whether there would be enough fuel. He didn’t even look once inside the big tank to reassure himself of the supply.
His uncle knew how much there was and had promised it would be enough.
All the boy had to do was park the little motorbike down below and tip the back edge of the tank up. It wasn’t a question of understanding how many gallons the tank held originally and how many had been used. He certainly didn’t care about how much the gas cost when it was delivered.
Those might have been real and valid questions, but they were none of his affair.
He knew a man—a man who took care of all those things—a man who showed him how to get what he needed and promised it would be enough.
He knew a man.
Do you ever wonder if you have enough faith for the difficulties of life?
I’m not talking about having faith when you’re with friends.
I don’t want to know if you have enough faith when you sit in church beside your family.
I’m not even wondering about when you give thanks sitting around the dinner table, hands held tightly with the folks next to you.
In the loneliest, darkest night, when it seems as if dawn is never going to break on the eastern horizon ever again, do you wonder if your faith is strong enough to see you through to daylight?
What about when wrapped in the strangling grip of pain? Or, gripped by the overwhelming tsunami of terror? Or, drowning in the depths of an ocean of sorrow and loss?
Is our faith strong enough?
I wonder. Perhaps, that’s not the right question.
Is there water down there? Will the rope break? Will my bucket leak? Will the water really quench my thirst?
If you know the One who maintains the well, you don’t even ask the questions.
Faith doesn’t require any more than one thing.
You just drop the bucket down again and again. Water comes up every time. (John 4:13-14)
I know a Man.
The boy kept riding his whole vacation. On faith. You might argue that it was gasoline that powered the little mini-bike.
I’m pretty sure it was faith.
I was there, after all.
Drop the bucket in again.
You know the Man, too.
Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys.
(Madeleine L’Engle ~ American author ~ 1918-2007)
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.
(Deuteronomy 31:8 ~ NLT)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.