Our country town scheduled the stunt car danger demonstrations at the county fairgrounds. The stacked green bleachers stood parallel to the prepared race track. The seeming mountain high, open air edifice supported some 5000 rural residents who packed in the rusty, green board seating. Overflow crowds set up lawn chairs off one end or placed blankets on the field grass.
For weeks, God the Father listened to the earnest, relentless prayers of seven-year-old Brian. The boy wanted a bicycle. I heard him pray for six to eight weeks every breakfast, every lunch, and every dinner, and of course, every evening prayers in the living room with his sisters.
“And God, I want a bicycle. Please, God, give me a bicycle.”
The county fair, a big farm exposition, was slated for mid-summer. I should have recognized God's work when Brian brought home one ticket from school for a bicycle raffle at the fair. The schools promoted it to hundreds of children.
He announced the ticket and held it high for all of us to see.
“Daddy, I'm going to win that bicycle!” my son repeated over and over again at home. He seemed to have persistent faith. I was the one who wasn't so sure.
As I drove the family station wagon into town one day, Brian spoke to me with heart touching trust.
“Daddy, will God give me the bicycle I keep praying for?”
“Brian, I know this. God hears your prayer, and he knows exactly what you want. He knows how to answer your prayer. You can trust him.”
“Well then,” said little Brian, “I'm going to keep praying for that bicycle 'cause I really want it!”
When the day of the fair came, my wife, Mary, made sure I'd take Brian and his older sister, Monica. My son was just as enthusiastic about the stunt car danger demonstration. I'm more of a bookworm type, myself, but at my wife's insistence and the kid's exuberance, it was settled.
We climbed half way up the steep grandstand steps to select our rather hard seats to perch on. What daddies do for their kids!
A myriad of colored clothing seen across the grandstand crowd added a gala splash to the event. About a quarter of the audience dressed in country blue jeans and T-shirts. Some sported western style cowboy hats. Under the bright sunny sky some females wore colorful shorts and informal bare-shoulder tops. Several shaded their eyes with large brimmed sun hats or gripped sun-protecting umbrellas. Men dressed in comfortable shorts or slacks as well, and cool summer short sleeves. Most donned baseball caps.
Some people protected their eyes with sunglasses or sipped cold drinks from straws stuck in cans or white plastic cups which rattled with ice. Sneakers made it easy to climb the steep steps and most settled down on hand-carried cushions, rolled blankets, or even light plastic raincoats.
I chose high seats half way up, well out of reach of any possible stunt car mishaps. I always chose safe locations during such public events. But I'll admit, we watched an exciting stunt car demonstration by skilled drivers.
The crowd cheered and applauded as the six white stunt cars dressed in red and blue strips came barreling in and engine-roared the front lane. Down the grandstand they drove, turned, and returned again making dangerous bumper-to-bumper crossovers to delight the enthusiastic crowds. The highlight came when one driver jumped the ramp over a line of parked cars. It was quite a show!
Right after the demonstration, the master of ceremonies in tall stove-pipe top hat conducted the raffle drawing for the “Silver Streak” bicycle. Sitting next to Brian, I watched my son's face and his continued exuberant expressions.
The MC called the first number, 187, but no child was present to win.
He called the second number, 324, but still no answer came from the audience.
The third number, 753, brought the same results.
The announcer took off his tall hat and wiped his forehead. He changed tactics and started calling the ticket numbers in sets over the blaring loud speakers.
17, 648, 429!
518, 921, 36!
As the numbers came, little Brian could not contain his emotions, nor his faith. He stood to his feet and began praying in a rather loud voice.
“Father God, that's my bicycle!
“Thank you, Jesus, for my bicycle!”
With determination he prayed louder as the MC called out the numbers. Some 500 people around us must have heard Brian's voice. They grew very quiet, listening to this little boy in T-shirt and torn blue jeans.
He jumped up and down in excited prayer. Something arrested me from stopping or containing his enthusiasm. The Holy Spirit definitely checked me from interfering with or quieting this little boy's witness.
More numbers were called: 66, 743, 317, 29, 436, 822!
“God, that bicycle is mine,” Brian persisted. “I believe it, that bicycle is mine.”
I could feel the crowd around me holding its breath for Brian. It was better than church. He continued to pray aloud as the numbers were called off.
785, 325, 239, 84, 526, 028!
How can a little boy jump up and down and pray out loud at the same time?
I felt people around him join in supportive prayer. Tears came to my eyes. I joined in the quiet prayer and could not believe God would not act in his behalf.
(“O ye of little faith.”)
Some seventy-five numbers had been called with no other child present to win. The MC was visibly discouraged. Then it came!
Little Brian tore down those steep bleacher steps like he was flying! I gasped and grabbed at him for his safety, but he was gone!
“He's already down there!” noted Monica.
The announcer checked Brian's ticket and gave him the shiny handlebars attached to the silver bicycle. He didn't have to tell this little boy what to do!
Brian jumped on the bike and peddled it rapidly in figure eight formations in front of the whole grandstand. He actually took over the show! He must have practiced this in his mind. The crowd, all five thousand, laughed and let out a long cheer and a continuing applause.
“I wonder what the numerical odds are of this little boy winning this bicycle after so many names were called?” asked the MC over the loud speaker.
As a Daddy, I could hardly breathe! My eyes flowed with tears. I watched God specifically answer a little boy's faith! We have a wonderful God.
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3 NIV).
(True Story #16 in series, Life is 100 Million Miracles.)
WOW! I had goose bumps while I read this. What a wonderful testimony of a child's faith. I believe, us adults, need to trust and believe as a child, other wise we just seem to complicate things.
Another great story - Debby