I got a new red ball for my birthday and now everyone keeps saying I need to learn how to share it with others. I want to play with it by myself. Why do I have to share it?”
Solomon’s answer: Why share your new ball with others? I’ll tell you why... but you had best sit down for this one. I want to tell you all about
“A Boy and His Lunch”
In my many years as the Church Mouse (almost 6,000 years, give or take a few hundred years.) I have been friends with a lot of really good children. I sat with David while he watched sheep and fought lions. I held my breath when the three Hebrew children were thrown in a firey furnace. I befriended the prophet Samuel when he was a child that didn’t even know who was talking to him. And I stayed in Moses’s pocket when he was being raised in the Palace of the King’s daughter. But the child I remember most... except for Jesus, of course... was a little boy that was so shy he didn’t even like to talk to people. Most of his neighbors didn’t even know that his name was Josh.
I met Josh one day when he was cleaning the dirt floor of their poor, small home. If fact, he almost swept ME right out the door.
“Stop!” I hollered. “You are going to make me sneeze with all that dust!”
You can imagine his surprize when he realized it was a mouse talking to him. But after a while he settled down and we were able to get to know each other.
Like I said, Josh was a very shy young lad but before long he got to where he enjoyed talking to me quite a bit. He talked to me about EVERYTHING. He even told me about the bullies that always tried to take his lunch away from him at school.
The bullies, like most bullies, only picked on smaller kids. Unfortunately, there weren’t many kids around that were smaller than Josh. That is why, over the years, Josh had become so very shy. So shy, in fact, that he wouldn’t even leave the house by himself unless there was no way to avoid it. Well, I knew he needed to learn how to be braver... and those bullies needed to learn to leave people alone.
I made a plan with a few of my good friends, a couple of big dogs and a donkey, to stay close to Josh’s house. We were going to help Josh with his problem the next time the bullies bothered him.
But, to make my plan work, I had to figure how to get Josh to go someplace outside of his house... and that wouldn’t be easy.
“Hey, Josh,” I said, “let’s go watch the Roman soldiers marching.”
No, he was afraid of soldiers.
“Let’s listen to the noisy camels in the merchant caravans” I suggested.
No, camels were too big.
“Well, if you won’t do the easy things,” I teased, “then let’s go on a LONG, dangerous adventure.”
I gotta tell you, the hair stood straight up on my tail. “Okay?... did you say OKAY?” I asked.
“Yes, I said I want to go on a long adventure. And I know just where I want to go.”
Somehow, I had a feeling I wasn’t going to like his idea, but, at least we would be out of the house.
“So, where do you want to go on this long adventure?” I asked, almost hoping he was joking.
“My father told me last night that Jesus has been teaching out in the wilderness. Thousands of people have gone out to hear him. And some have even been close enough to meet him. That is what I want. I want to meet Jesus!”
My, my, my.... oh, my. I was impressed with this young boy.
“Excellent plan, Josh. I have known Jesus since he was just a baby! And I know where he is teaching right now. When do you want to go?”
“As soon as Mother packs me a lunch basket.”
And so I watched from a corner as Josh told his mother what he wanted to do. And, surprize... she was in favor of him going to hear Jesus teach! She just had one thing she wanted him to promise... that he wouldn’t let any bullies or beggars talk him out of his lunch! She was going pack enough for him to eat two meals, but he would have to go hungry if he didn’t keep the basket close to him at all times.
Of course, he promised to obey her instructions, so she packed him a lunch of two BIG, tender fish and five fresh baked loaves of barley bread!
I sneaked inside the basket and watched Josh kiss his mom goodbye.
And then we were off on our LONG JOURNEY! Josh carried his lunch basket close to his side and I ended up riding on his shoulder.
Behind us, unseen by Josh, was two dogs, a donkey, and some bullies! As we walked down the dusty road leading out of town, I noticed the bullies lurking behind us.
“Josh,” I whispered, “hold on to your lunch! Those bullies are right behind us.”
“Oh, no!” he gasped. “I promised my mother I wouldn’t let ANYONE take my lunch away from me this time.”
I looked around for the two dogs and the donkey that had agreed to help me in my plan. Ah... there they were! I decided that right now was the time to put my plan into action.
“Maybe” I said, as confidently as possible, “Maybe they won’t take your lunch if you just say ‘No’ to them.”
“I’m sure they won’t take it... at least not until after they chase me all over town and then they will take it from me.”
Josh was really starting to get nervous. I knew I would need to let him know about my plan.
“Don’t worry, Josh.” I said confidently. “I have some friends that are going to help you if the bullies bother you. Do you see those two dogs over there?” I pointed and watched Josh’s eyes grow round and wide at the sight of the two mean-looking dogs that I was pointing toward. I continued revealing my plan. “Those dogs have agreed to chase away anyone who tries to hurt you. We’re safe.”
“Idaknowtheylookmeantome!” Josh mumbled. It took me almost four and a quarter seconds for me to even understand that he was mumbling “I don’t know. They look mean to me!”
“It’s okay, Josh. They are going to chase them into a donkey stall and the donkey isn’t going to let them out until the Roman soldiers come for them.” Brilliant plan, I thought. All Josh needed to do was stop and confront the bullies.
Too late... the bullies had decided to confront Josh first.
“Hey, you!” the bigger, stronger bully said. “What ya got in dat baskit? Is dat our lunch?” He smiled a mean, ugly smile.
“Uh, no. It’s my lunch for later.” Josh sounded as nervous as he looked. He pulled the basket closer to him.
“Maybe you want to share wid us, ya think?” This was the smaller bully. With a quick lurch he reached out to grab the basket out of Josh’s arms. A tug of war followed that jostled the basket every which way... with ME inside the basket.
There wasn’t a second to lose! I hollered as loud as I could to Josh, “Tell the dogs to chase them! Do it now!”
Josh looked at the dogs. “Attack! Sic ‘em! Gett’em! YooHoo, Dogs! HELP!”
Oh, great, I thought, he’s so nervous he is just sounding silly. I peeked out of the basket and saw the bully’s finger wrapping around the rim very near to me. So I changed my plan... I bit his finger.
I feel really bad about biting the bully’s finger... well, maybe not THAT bad. I just knew something HAD to be done quickly, so...
Once again, I peeked out of the basket to see what was happening. The smaller bully was holding his finger and the larger bully was looking confused.
“You had better leave me alone. Those dogs are going to get you if you don’t leave.”
Good for Josh. He stuck to the plan!
“What dogs?” The bullies both sneered a silly grin. Something was wrong. “Do you mean THESE dogs?”
I was shocked to see both dogs meander up to the bullys, one stood beside the big bully and the other nudged up to the smaller one.
The bigger bully gave a big belly laugh. “Bowser and Jaws!” He patted Jaws on the head. “We’ve had them since they were pups!”
Oh, boy, what a plan I had developed. What more could go wrong?
One glance out of the basket told me things had changed. Beside Josh stood a huge man with big muscles and a beard. Beside him was a slightly smaller man with gentle eyes.
“Excuse me,” the big man said. “I noticed you have a lunch basket. Could we borrow it for a while?”
The smaller bully was the first to respond. “Not a chance.” He said. “He won’t even share with us... and he knows us. And besides... something in that basket BIT me!”
The smaller man with gentle eyes spoke up. “Don’t misunderstand, we only want to borrow the basket if it has a little bit of food in it.”
“Yes,” the large man with muscles said, “I am Peter, this is James. We are disciples of Jesus and the master sent us to find food to bring to him. We have thousands of hungry people that have come to hear the words of Jesus.”
“But, unfortunately” James, the smaller man, said, “you are the only one that has brought food with you. Your basket is all we have found for Jesus. Would you share your basket?”
I could almost see what Josh was thinking just by watching him. He glanced at the bullies. ‘They didn’t get my basket.’ He looked at the dogs. ‘The dogs aren’t going to protect me.’ He looked at the disciples, first at James and then at Peter. ‘They said the people were hungry... but my five barley loaves and two fish won’t feed that many people.’ Then he looked past our entire group, past the crowd that we had unknowingly become a part of, past everything until he saw, for the first time, Jesus. ‘Who am I to say this lunch won’t be enough? That is JESUS!’
Slowly, Josh loosened his grip on the basket and held it out for James to carry. Before he turned loose of it, I scampered out of the basket and onto Josh’s shoulder.
“Here is all the food I have” Josh said. “Give it to Jesus.”
Wow! I remember seeing Josh grow up that day. The rest of what happened to that lunch was a remarkable story in itself. I’ll tell about it sometime but until then, you can read about it in the Bible. It is found in John 6:9.
Let me tell you, though, what happened to OUR little group.
Jesus took Josh’s lunch and... well, I don’t know how... he had enough food to feed all five thousand people. And that included Josh. It also included the two bullies.
The bigger bully started listening to what Jesus was saying. The smaller one wanted to leave but the big one wouldn’t go. Before long, they were BOTH listening to Jesus. But they didn’t just listen... they HEARD what Jesus said. Jesus was saying that they had to change the way they were living! And do you know what? They did change.
After that “long and dangerous journey” Josh and the two bullies became great friends! Of course, we didn’t keep calling them bullies. We learned their names. The smaller EX-bully was named Barnabus, who grew up to become the missionary partner of the Apostle Paul. And the other... the bigger one, was Stephen. He grew up to face a whole crowd of bullies, where he proved to everyone that he had gotten something far more important from Jesus than just a part of Josh’s lunch.
So you see, to answer your question about why you need to learn to share, you never know what good things Jesus will do when you give your things to him by sharing with others.
Awesome work here! I love the creativity and the way you use the mouse to tell a story, and all the fun twists in the story. I do believe it was Andrew who found the boy, though it's just as fun to say it was Peter & John. :) I'll have to remember this idea for kids' church!