Thursday, April 30, 2015

Billy's Story

There was once a boy named Billy. One day, Billy's father had to do some remodeling on the house and told Billy to go play outside. Before he left, though, Billy's father gave him some instructions.

"Go on out and play," Billy's father said. "You can play with any of the toys in our yard. You can feed the birds. You can watch the squirrels run along the power lines. I've even built you a clubhouse that you can play in. But there's one thing you must not do."

"What's that?" Billy asked.

"Don't leave our yard," his father said.

"Why not?" Billy inquired.

"It's not safe for you outside of our yard," his father explained. "Also, there's a mean boy named Jimmy who lives down the road. And if you go into his yard, you will be out of my reach if something happens to you."

"Okay, Dad," Billy nodded. "I'll stay in our yard."

"Good," his dad said, smiling. "And there's one more thing."

Billy's father looked at him intently and became very very serious.

"Jimmy doesn't like to stay in his yard. He likes to come in other people's yards. He'll act like he's your friend, but he's actually very mean and he will hurt you," he said.

"That's okay, Dad," Billy said. "If I see Jimmy coming, I'll run back in the house."

"No," his father said. "You can't come back in the house until I get the remodeling done."

"Then what do I do?" Billy asked.

"If you see Jimmy coming, just call to me and I'll come out and make him leave."

"Okay, Dad," Billy said and headed outside.

But as soon as Billy left the house, he got distracted by all the toys and fun things to do and forgot what his father said about leaving the yard.

Sure enough, it wasn't long before Jimmy came walking down the road. Billy saw him and called for his father. Immediately, Billy's father came out and ran Jimmy off. Billy went back to playing and soon forgot about the whole incident.

Later, Billy heard strange sounds coming from the other side of the fence. What was that? Was that...laughter?

Yes, laughter! Children's laughter! There were other children next door. Billy wanted to invite them over, but what about the fence?

"Hey!" Billy called. "Come around the fence and come play in my yard!"

"No!" they replied. "You come play in our yard!"

"Okay!" Billy said excitedly. Then he walked along until he found where the fence ended at the sidewalk. Without a second thought, Billy left his yard and went over to the neighbor's yard.

Just as he had expected, there were children playing and having fun. Billy joined in and was having a wonderful time.

But soon, Jimmy came down the road. Billy saw him coming and thought of what his father had said. But Billy wasn't in his own yard.

"Dad!" Billy yelled. His father heard him and ran outside.

"What is it, Billy? Where are you?"

"I'm-" Billy realized his father wouldn't be pleased with him. "I'm talking to the children next door. I'm inviting them to come to our house to play."

"Why did you leave the yard?" his father asked.

"Because I heard the children playing and realized they didn't have you to protect them from Jimmy."

"That was very thoughtful of you, Billy," his father said. "But you need to come back to our yard."

"Okay, Dad," Billy said. So he did.

But Jimmy kept coming. Billy wondered what would happen when Jimmy got in the other kids' yard. Maybe their dad will make Jimmy leave.

Finally, Jimmy entered the neighbor's yard. Billy waited nervously for the sounds of kids getting beat up.

But the sounds never came. In fact, it sounded like they were all having fun together. Billy became very curious and soon he found himself back over in the neighbor's yard.

Jimmy was nothing like he expected. Jimmy was joking and playing and everyone was having fun.

"Hey, I have an idea," Jimmy finally said. "Why don't we all go to MY house to play? I have lots of cool toys."

"I don't think I should," Billy said.

"Why not?" Jimmy asked.

"Because my dad wouldn't like it," Billy answered. "He said that if I went to your yard, that something bad would happen to me."

"Really?" Jimmy said. "What else did he say?"

"He said you were mean."

"And do I seem mean to you?" Jimmy prompted.

"Well, no," Billy said. "You seem very nice."

"Exactly," Jimmy said. "It sounds like your dad just doesn't want you to have fun."

But Billy didn't think that was true. Surely his father wanted him to have fun. That's why he sent him outside to play, right?

Billy must have heard him wrong.

"Okay," Billy said, smiling. "Let's go!"

So all the kids went to Jimmy's yard. It was surrounded by a fence, but Jimmy opened the gate and let everyone in. Once they were inside, he closed the gate.

Billy had never seen such amazing toys! Before long, all the kids were playing and having a wonderful time.

"Let's play a game," Jimmy said. "Let's play tag. I'll be it."

"How do you play tag?" Billy asked because he'd never played before.

"It's easy," Jimmy said. "I'm it, so I have to chase everyone."

"What happens if you catch us?" Billy asked.

"You'll find out," Jimmy said coyly and started chasing the kids.

It was fun! Everyone was running around and laughing because Jimmy couldn't catch them. But soon, Jimmy caught someone.

Billy laughed and watched, wondering what would happen. But the next part wasn't fun at all.

Jimmy laughed as he grabbed the other boy and swung his fist, hitting him right in the face!

The boy cried and ran away, but he had nowhere to go. So he just sat down.

"Come on," Jimmy said, laughing maniacally. "You're it now!"

"But I don't want to play anymore," the boy said.

"Fine," Jimmy said, turning his attention to Billy. "I'm it again!"

Billy started running, but he soon realized that he wasn't fast enough to outrun Jimmy. Finally, Jimmy caught him.

In that moment, Billy did the only thing he could think of.

"Dad, help!" he called.

From down the road, he heard his father answer. "Come home, Billy! I'll protect you."

But just then, Jimmy stopped.

"Don't leave," he said. "I'm just playing. We can play something else if you want."

Billy thought about that. He looked around at all the cool toys again. Wow, they were cool.

"Nevermind, Dad!" Billy said. "I'm fine!"

And with that, they all went back to playing.

But it wasn't long before Jimmy wanted to play tag again.

"I don't want to play tag," Billy said. "I just want to play with the toys."

"If you play tag one more time, I'll let you play with my toys," Jimmy said. So Billy agreed.

And soon, Jimmy caught him and beat him up.

Billy didn't understand why his father didn't stop Jimmy from beating him up. Surely he wanted Billy to have fun. He DID say, "Go outside and play," right? That's what he was doing!

And Billy knew his dad was smart - like, REALLY smart. So he knew Jimmy would beat him up.

"I don't understand why my dad is letting you beat me up," Billy said.

"There's only one logical conclusion," Jimmy said smugly. "Your dad must want you to learn something from getting beat up."

Billy agreed. "That makes sense. He's really smart and I don't know everything he does. So if he wants me to play outside and he knows playing outside means I get beat up, then he must have a reason for letting me get beat up."

Your father does not want the devil to beat you up. He doesn't want you sick. He doesn't want you broke. He doesn't want you sad and fearful. But it's your decision.