Randy looked with a terrible fear at what he held in his right hand. The last thing his father had said to his three sons before going to work was to leave the new radio alone.
“That’s not a toy boys and it cost me good money,” he said as he grabbed his lunch pail. “And I better not catch you playing with it,” he continued as he headed out the door.
Randy knew what “good money” meant. His father worked hard at the factory in Bloomington, the big town just a few miles down the highway from their little rural Illinois home. The money his father earned was just enough to make the car payment, pay the mortgage on their mobile home and the land it sat on, and buy the food and clothing needed to keep his young family of five going. But once in awhile his father was offered overtime; extra hours that paid time-and-a-half. Those overtime hours didn’t come often but when they did there were a few extra dollars in the pay check. This was the “good money” that could buy a little something beyond the necessities; like the radio his father was looking forward to enjoying…and whose volume knob had just come off in Randy’s wayward hand.
“Oh Randy!” his mother exclaimed as she stepped into the room and saw her son and the hole in the radio where the knob was supposed to be.
“Mom!” Randy wailed as he turned to his mother lifting the radio knob up for her to see. “Mom!” he cried again as tears began streaming down the little five-year-old’s face.
They both knew the punishment little boys received for messing with something that had cost good money. Even now Randy was imagining what his father would do when he came home and saw the condition of his prized radio. There would be loud angry words of consternation shouted at the child; consternation that he could have a child so careless, so disobedient, so dumb. Then the belt would come off from around his father’s waist. He would firmly grip the miscreant by the upper arm and begin laying hard, quick licks with that belt across the boy’s backside and legs. Those licks hurt terribly. They would be hard enough to raise welts, but not quite so hard as to draw blood…usually.
“Let me see it,” Randy’s mother said as she took the knob from his hands. She looked intently at the stem of the knob, lined it up just so with the corresponding metal prong on the radio, and then with a little twist and downward pressure, clicked the knob back in place. Good as new.
“Oh thank you, thank you!” Randy cried as he hugged his mother’s waist. He had of course tried putting the knob back on himself. But, it was beyond the abilities of a five-year-olds’ dexterity and experience. His mother’s deft motions and consequential successful reattachment looked like magic to the little boy.
“Thank you so much mom!” he said once again from a truly grateful heart.
“That’s alright,” she replied, “that’s the same thing Jesus did for me.”
“Jesus? Who is that mom?” Randy asked.
“Jesus is God’s only begotten son, Randy,” his mother began. “He came to take the punishment we all deserve for the bad things we have all done; for the sins we committed against our Heavenly Father. God’s word tells us ‘The wages of sin is death.’ Jesus took our deaths for us. He died in our place,” she finished quietly.
Randy thought about that for a few minutes. He thought about how being bad was not a little thing. If being bad brought licks with a belt from an earthly father, how much more fitting that it should bring death from a heavenly father; who was so much higher, bigger, and better than any father here on earth could ever be. Randy suddenly felt the same gratitude for Jesus’ act on his behalf as he had felt for his mother’s act of fixing the radio; only more so.
“If Jesus did that for us, what can we do for him, Mom?” Randy asked. It just seemed imperative to Randy that he be able to respond in some fashion to such grand kindness on the part of this Jesus.
“Randy,” she began, “the only thing you have to give Jesus, that he would want, is your heart.”
“How do I do that, Mom? How do I give Jesus my heart?” he asked.
“Well son, you simply tell him how sorry you are for your sins and ask him to forgive you. Then you tell him you want to give him your life, all of it. Then you invite him into your heart.” She answered.
Randy sat quietly for a moment, thinking about it. Soon his mother told him it was time for his afternoon nap. He got up quietly and walked down the hall to the bedroom he shared with his two older brothers. When he saw the bunk bed against the wall the most natural thing in the world to him at that moment seemed to be to kneel and talk to God. He told God how sorry he was for all the bad things he had done; like breaking the radio. He asked for forgiveness. He thanked Jesus for dying in his place. And then, he invited Jesus to come into his heart just as his mother had explained it. When he had finished talking to God he climbed up into bed to take a nap just like his mother had asked of him.
And then it hit him. Something was different. He never took a nap without a terrible fuss first. And he never obeyed willingly unless there was just no way around it. Something was definitely different inside. He felt clean. More than that, he felt like a good little boy, and that was certainly new. And there was a fullness inside him that had not been there before; a peace or happiness or something.
“No,” he thought. “Not something but someone is in my heart.” And wonders of wonders, he knew it was Jesus. He fell asleep with that realization marveling around in his conscience.
When Randy woke up, the first thing that came to his mind was he still had that feeling of fullness and goodness inside him. Jesus was still there! He quickly got up and told his mother about his prayer and how Jesus had forgiven him and had come into his heart. His mother held him close and told him how glad she was; perhaps with a little skepticism that a child could understand and receive the gospel at such a young age. But Randy knew without a doubt, for the rest of his life, that on that day, while kneeling at that bunk bed, he had been born again.
As far as I know, Randy’s earthly father never knew about the broken radio. Or if he did know, he must have forgiven and forgotten, because Randy never did receive the licks he deserved for breaking it. He received grace instead.