From Chicken Soup for the Child's Soul

Max and the Purple BMX
Mongoose Bike

Honesty is the best policy.

Miguel de Cervantes

I sat next to my sleeping, two-year-old, baby sister in the middle seat of our parents’ van. Mom had insisted that I go with her to pick up Dad from work while his car was in the shop. Across from Dad’s office is a store called Sunshine Bikes. That was the day my eleven-year-old eyes first saw the purple BMX Mongoose bike.

From that day on, just about all I could think about was that purple BMX Mongoose bike. I even drew pictures of the bike instead of paying attention in class.

Every evening afterward, at five-thirty, I eagerly went along with Mom and my baby sister to get Dad. And every day I let it be known, “I love that bike!” or

“I want that bike!” or “I’ve got to have that bike!”

Mom usually answered, “That’s nice, dear.”

But Dad’s reply was, “Max, you have a perfectly good bike in the garage.”

“My bike is old and ugly,” I’d argue.

The next Sunday at church, the sermon was about prayer. I only half-listened until the reverend said, “Through prayer, with God’s help, all things are possible.“

Including getting a bike my parents don’t think I need? I wondered.

When church ended, the congregation shook hands with the minister. As I reached out my hand, I asked, “Is there any limit to what you should bother God with?”

Reverend Lindsey said, “You can talk to God about anything. Nothing is too great or too unimportant to share with God.”

When I got home, I hurried upstairs and through the door with the sign reading PRIVATE in big orange letters. I crossed the green carpeted floor and flopped down on my bed to have a long talk with God.

I told God about the purple BMX Mongoose bike. “I want that bike so bad. I’m sure my happiness depends on it. If you just get me that bike, I will never do anything bad again.”

A few days later, the bike was no longer in the window. “Where is my bike?” I shouted.

“At home in the garage,” Mom replied.

“Not that bike!” I explained. “The one in the bike-store window.”

“Maybe they sold it,” Mom said.

“I wanted that bike,” I whined.

“I’m sorry, Max,” Mom said.

“There are other bikes,” Dad said.

Miserable, I knew I’d never be happy again. Maybe God didn’t hear my prayer.

About a week later, coming home from school, I tripped over something. Lying in the weeds, near some wooded lots, was a bike—the exact bike from the store.

“Hey, whose bike is this?” I shouted, scanning the area.

No one replied, and there was no one in sight. Maybe the bike is here for me, the answer to my prayer. I can’t leave the bike of my dreams lying in the weeds. So I took it home.

I hid the bike behind the garage next to our house. Just until I tell Mom and Dad, I thought.

Every day after school, I sat behind the garage admiring the purple BMX Mongoose bike. I didn’t feel like riding and didn’t feel as happy as I thought I would. Thinking about the bike now made my stomach tighten up and feel uncomfortable.

A few days later, at school during lunch, someone said, “Did you hear about Tyler Weston, in the other fifth-grade class? He lost the new BMX Mongoose bike he just got for his birthday. He left it by the stream while he was playing in the woods. It got dark, and he couldn’t find it.”

“I’d never go off and leave a new bike like that. He doesn’t deserve to have that bike,” I said to Paul, my best friend.

“Kids say he’s nice. In fact, the next day after school, everyone helped him search for his bike, but they couldn’t find it. I heard Tyler’s upset because his dad worked overtime to buy the bike for Tyler’s birthday,” said Paul.

For the rest of the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about Tyler Weston.

After school, I went to my room. My stomach ached. I sat at my desk, staring at a drawing of the bike. There must be a way to fix this, I thought. Then I remembered how the reverend had said that through prayer, with God’s help, all things are possible.

“Lord, help me know right from wrong. If I do make the wrong choice, show me the way to correct what I have done wrong.”

Mom came to my door. “Max, I didn’t see you when you came home. Are you all right?” Picking up the drawing, Mom asked, “Are you still upset about the bike?”

“Kind of . . .” I told her everything, including about praying for the bike. “I need to return the bike to Tyler.”

Mom put her arms around me. “Mrs. Weston is in my Tuesday evening women’s group. We met at her home last week. They live in a red-brick home about seven blocks from here. You get the bike. I’ll get your baby sister.”

At Tyler’s house, I told Tyler and his parents about finding the bike.

Tyler’s father hugged me and said, “Thank you. We prayed someone would find the bike and return it. You’ve answered our prayer.”

Riding home, I smiled, thinking about how thankful Tyler and his parents were. My stomach began to feel better. “Mom . . . I thought I needed the bike to be happy, and that getting the bike was the answer to my prayer. But I feel happy because Tyler and his parents were happy to get the bike back. And I am proud of myself for doing the right thing.”

Mom drove on in silence, but her smile told me she was proud of me, too.

Max Sampsell as told to Joi Sampsell

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