Kyle ran hard, wind whipping through his cropped hair. “Another few seconds and I’m safe.” he thought. With his eyes fixed on home base, he didn’t hear the crunch of feet closing in on him. He stretched out his hand and felt the rough bark of the tree. “Safe!” he thought, as he was pushed hard from behind. BAM! Kyle hit the ground, getting a mouth full of mulch.
He rolled over fast and jumped up, his small fists balled at his sides. “Hey, I was safe.” He yelled.
“Sorry,” the burly boy in front of him replied, smugly. “I was going too fast and couldn’t stop.” Kyle knew it wasn’t true, Randy always had some excuse. “Come and get me.” The older boy teased.
“You’re still ‘It’” Kyle replied. “I was safe remember.”
Randy pushed him again and called “Not anymore,” while running away. Kyle rushed after the boy, but Randy had size on his side and easily outdistanced him.
Kyle sulked on the way home from playgroup. “What did Randy do this time?” his mother asked.
“He just never plays fair.” Kyle muttered. “Next week I’ll show him.”
“You mean that you’ll show him God’s love, right” his mom countered. “You don’t have to be his best friend, son, but you do have to give him kindness and mercy. Jesus says to pray for your enemies.”
“That’s not fair, Mom. He’s not nice to me or the other little kids.”
“Let’s pray for him, maybe God will change his heart. Until then, play with someone else.” For the rest of that week, Kyle and his mother prayed for Randy. At playgroup, Randy cornered two girls at the back end of the park and wouldn’t let them go. He also tripped Kyle during a rousing game of capture the flag.
The car ride home did not go well. “Mom, we prayed all week and he’s just as mean.” Kyle complained.
“Why did you play with him?”
“I tried not to, but he kept playing with me. Why didn’t God change him?”
His mom smiled, “Well, things don’t always work that quickly. God wants us to learn perseverance, which means being determined and patient. You’re pretty mad. Maybe we should pray for you instead.”
“Pray for me. Are you kidding!? He’s the one that’s a bully.”
“True, but we can’t change him; only God can. However, we can work on you. Let’s pray this week that God will show you how to love Randy.” And so they prayed every night that week. For playgroup, everyone went to the pool, where Randy splashed, pushed, dunked and otherwise pestered everyone.
“How was playgroup?” Kyle’s mom asked.
“We played water volleyball and Shari did this awesome spike.” he answered.
“Were there any problems?”
“The same stuff, you know Randy.”
“So you had fun?”
“Oh yeah. Can we go get a Frosty?”
“Sure, let’s get a Frosty.” His mom finished. That week they continued to pray. Soon it was playgroup time and everyone was at the beach. Randy and his buddies played football on the sand, while Kyle and his friends bodysurfed. Everyone was having a good time. Soon the ice cream truck caught the children’s attention. Kyle dug the change his mother had given him from his beach bag and ran to stand in line. Randy sat to the side digging in the sand.
“Hey Randy,” Kyle asked, “Why aren’t you in line?”
“I spent my allowance yesterday.”
Without thinking about it, Kyle handed the change in his hand to Randy. “You can have mine.” He said.
Randy jumped to his feet, “Are you sure?”
“Yeah,” Kyle answered and exited the line. Randy rushed forward and eagerly bought a rocket pop. On the way home, Kyle happily chattered about the great day and the fun he had with his friends.
The following week at the playground, freeze tag was in full swing. Kyle swung past Shari, unfreezing her, and tore out for home base. Just after he touched the tree, he tripped and twisted, landing on his back.
“Man, that must have hurt,” Randy said, offering his hand.
Kyle looked at him suspiciously. “You’ll just freeze me.”
“No, I saw you touch the tree, you’re safe. I just want to help you up.”
“Okay,” Kyle said, taking the outstretched hand and getting to his feet. “Thanks.’
“No prob.” Randy said, running off to tag another player. Kyle smiled and followed him.
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