Melanie is a short story contest winner from Loveland Protestant Reformed Church in Loveland, Colorado. She is 14 years old.

Mark Harrison was sitting at home one afternoon with his family. It was summer vacation and he could not find anything to do. He did not have any brothers to play with; only two sisters who were both younger than he. They only liked to do girly stuff like play dolls or tea party which, according to Mark, was dumb girl stuff. Mark was 13 years old and going into the 8th grade and had no interest in that kind of stuff. He liked stuff like bike jumping and playing Play Station. Mark decided to go to his friend Jack’s who lived a couple houses down from him.

Jack did not go to a Christian school like Mark did, nor did he go to church. He was a pretty decent boy though. He did not curse or swear or anything like that, so Mark’s mom and dad decided it was okay for Mark to hang around him as long as he did not get any bad ideas from him.

Mark told his mom that he was going to Jack’s house for awhile. His mom said that was fine as long as he was home by 5:00 p.m., which was supper time. Mark went into the garage and got his bike. He would ride his bike over to Jack’s house in case Jack wanted to ride bikes somewhere or jump their bikes on the jump Jack made in front of his house.

Within a minute Mark was at Jack’s house. Jack was sitting on the front step of his house. He looked bored, too. Jack only had a baby brother who, in his opinion, was no fun to play with so Jack was bored a lot, too. When he saw Mark coming his eyes lit up. He and Mark had a lot of fun together.

“So what do you want to do Jack? There was nothing to do at my house so I decided to come over here and see if you had any good ideas of what to do.” Mark said.

“Hmm, I know! We could ride our bikes down to the field with all the dirt jumps and jump our bikes.” Jack decided.

“Okay, I guess.” Mark said reluctantly.

Mark’s bike used to be his dad’s and he sometimes got teased about his big, junky, old bike. He could not jump his bike very well because it was big and heavy and would not go very high. Jack on the other hand had a very nice new bike that was the best you could get for jumping and that sort of thing. Mark often asked for a new bike but his parents said that there was not enough money for a new bike and the bike he had right now worked just fine.

Mark and Jack grabbed their bikes and set off for the field. They stopped at Mark’s house so Mark could tell his mom where they were going. Mark hopped off his bike and ran inside.

“Mom, I’m going with Jack to the field where we can jump our bikes. Okay?” Mark said

“Okay, but don’t be gone long.” His mom answered.

“Okay, Mom! Bye!”

Mark ran back out to his bike and Jack who was still waiting for him. He hopped on his bike and they were off.

Mark and Jack were at the field jumping their bikes. There was no one else there when they first got there but soon they saw some more boys coming. Mark and Jack just ignored them and went on jumping their bikes. Now the other boys noticed Mark’s bike. They right away started making fun of his bike. Jack saw this and went over the help Mark out. The boys started teasing Jack, too, when he stood up for Mark. Jack did not care.

“Come on, Mark! Let’s go home. There’s no way we can have fun with these boys around.” Jack said to Mark. “We can go back and find something more fun to do.”

They got on their bikes and went home.

That night at the supper table Mark’s dad asked him how his day was.

“It was okay but some boy teased me about my bike again.” Mark told him.

“Again?! Well, don’t let it get to you. It does not really matter what they say anyway.

They are just trying to make you mad. Right?” His dad encouraged him.

“I guess you’re right. But why can’t I get a new bike. I know we don’t have enough money right now. But I could mow lawns for people and stuff like that. I could use the money to buy a new bike.” Mark suggested.

“We’ve gone over this before, Mark. We want you to save your money for more important things like a car and your college education.” His dad explained.

“Well, how come Jack has enough money for a new bike and I don’t? After all I’m a child of God so why does God give more to the wicked than to his own people whom he loves.” Marked questioned his dad.

“In Psalm 73 Asaph asked God the same question.” His father told him. “Asaph tells that he went into God’s sanctuary and then he understood. God sets the wicked in slippery places by giving them lots of money or in this case a nicer bike. That means that God gives them those things to aid in their destruction. Do you understand now?”

Mark nodded.

“And it also says in the Bible that is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is easier for a poor man to go to heaven because he does not have many earthly goods to trust in rather than God. He does not have much money to buy everything he needs. A rich man has lots of money which he often trusts in more than God.” His father explained further. “Would you rather go to heaven or have earthly goods?”

“I would rather go to heaven,” declared Mark.

“So would I,” said his parents.

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