JIMMY'S NINTH BIRTHDAY GIFT
Enjoy the gifts…follow the instructions from the Giver.
by Saustin Sampson Mfune
It was Jimmy’s ninth birthday. The living room was packed with his friends, who sang and played all kinds of games. When activities reached fever pitch, Mother sneaked into the kitchen and returned with a birthday cake. As she put it on the table, the kids spontaneously began to chant, “Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy . . . !” Jimmy made a fist with his right hand and quickly thrust it down with a sharp jerk as he said, “Yes!” Then, smiling ear to ear, he blew out all nine candles on the birthday cake.
While they were busy enjoying the cake, Dad slipped away unnoticed to his bedroom to collect Jimmy’s surprise birthday gift, which was hidden in the walk-in closet. It was a bicycle. He quietly walked back into the living room and then shouted, “Surprise, birthday boy!” All the kids turned and looked toward Dad. Jimmy’s eyes “popped” out of their sockets, and he bulleted toward his father. He hugged him and shouted, “I love you, Dad! I love you, Mom!” Then he hugged and kissed the bicycle as he repeatedly said, “Thank you, Dad and Mom.”
She told him that when people know what they can and cannot do, it gives them freedom to enjoy the gifts received.
Finally, the party was over, and his friends returned to their homes. Jimmy was eager to try out his new bike. He grabbed the bicycle, but Dad told him to wait. “What is it, Dad?” Dad told him to sit down. An anxious Jimmy sat down wondering what was going on.
Dad told Jimmy that since they lived at a Mission Station where there were several cars, lots of bicycles, and many people, he needed to know some rules to guide him on how to ride his bicycle on campus so that he wouldn’t get injured or injure others. He told him to obey all the stop and yield (give way) signs on the crossroads. When approaching crossroads, even when there was no stop sign on his side, he should approach it carefully because the driver or rider who may have a stop sign on the crossing road may be absentminded or careless and may injure him. He was told not to speed and never to pedal the bicycle with his hands off the handle bars. He might hit a stone or other obstacle on the road and fall and injure himself badly. He should look out for kids. And Mom ended the conversation by telling Jimmy that these rules were not meant to limit his enjoyment. They were meant to protect him and others. They were meant to empower him. She told him that when people know what they can and cannot do, it gives them freedom to enjoy the gifts received. Jimmy nodded his head in agreement. Mom also said that after he returned from school, he should first do his household chores and homework assignments, and then he could go for his bicycle ride. Jimmy agreed.
Jimmy thanked his parents. He looked at them and begged, “Can I go now and ride my bicycle?” Dad and Mom looked at each other and then said, “Yes.” And Mom added, “Be careful!” “I will,” Jimmy replied as he mounted his bike and zoomed off.
Two days went by without any incident. But late one afternoon as Dad was walking home from class after a long day of teaching, at a distance he saw Jimmy and two of his friends cycling. And they were peddling as fast as their little legs could pedal. While his friends had their hands on the bicycle handle bars, Jimmy’s hands were up in the air and he was shouting, “Look at me!” When his two friends saw this, they cheered him. And they were all speeding toward a stop sign.
He hit the bike and threw Jimmy up into the air. Jimmy landed with a big thud in the road.
There were high bushes forming a hedge along the sides on the road, so Jimmy couldn’t see what was coming on the crossroad. His father, however, was walking along the crossroad from the opposite side, so he could see that a vehicle was approaching the crossing point of the two roads. When he realized that Jimmy and his friends were speeding toward the crossing point, he shouted, “Jimmy, stop!” Jimmy, however, didn’t hear the warning. He kept on speeding and enjoying the adrenaline rush. As he and his friends approached the stop sign, his friends slowed down and stopped—but Jimmy sprinted forward. As he entered the intersection, a car from the other side of the crossroad—which had the right of way—entered the intersection. The driver suddenly saw Jimmy and tried to blow the horn and apply his brakes, but it was too late. He hit the bike and threw Jimmy up into the air. Jimmy landed with a big thud in the road.
“Jimmy! Are you all right?” Dad shouted as he came running. Jimmy was badly hurt. He bled profusely from his mouth. His lips were cut and swollen. He had a bad bruise on the right side of his face. His clothes were torn. His bicycle was completely mangled. He was rushed to a small clinic on campus, and the nurse told them that he needed to go to a big hospital that was 40 miles away. After arriving at the hospital, the medical staff took several x-rays and discovered that his right hand bone was broken. He also had a broken rib. Jimmy had to remain in the hospital for five days. His mom and dad took turns staying with him.
Just before he was discharged, a doctor and two nurses walked into Jimmy’s room. Jimmy smiled faintly as the doctor told him that he would be discharged that day. “Thank you,” Jimmy whispered. “Young fellow,” the doctor said, “when your parents give you rules, it’s because they are trying to protect you. Even though it was you who disobeyed, your parents also suffered as well. Remember that laws are for your safety,” the doctor said as he gently touched Jimmy’s head. “Thank God that you are still alive.” The doctor then signed some papers and gave them to the nurse. He told Jimmy and his parents that once they were done with discharging formalities, they could return home.
As they drove home, a tearful Jimmy, who was still in lots of pain, told his parents that he was very sorry for disobeying. Dad took a deep breath and emphasized again that rules are there to protect and not to enslave someone. This applies to all aspects of life; gifts are fully enjoyed when one follows the instructions of the giver.
A grateful mom, tears in her eyes, was happy and relieved that her son was alive. She kissed him on his forehead. Tears welled in Jimmy’s eyes as well, as the car left a trail of dust when it meandered down a long and dusty road back to the Mission station.