By Linda Porter Carlyle
MacKenzie Isabelle Evans let go of the handle bars of her bike. She pedaled twice, wobbled, and grabbed them again. Mac shook her head. She knew it was possible to ride without holding onto the handlebars. She had seen lots of people doing it. And they could do it for long distances too. Just yesterday in the car she and Mom had passed a boy riding down the highway in the bike lane. He had been riding with no hands—with his arms crossed even. Mac was absolutely determined to be able to ride like that herself!
Mac turned a tight circle at the corner and headed back down the sidewalk. She made sure she was riding in a straight line, then she let go of the handlebars. One, two, three, she counted. Well, that was a little longer than the last try. She sat up tall, peddled faster, and let go again. One, two, three, four!
Mac reached the corner and turned back around. She stopped and touched her foot to the ground. Enough for now! It was time to do something else for a while. Then she’d try to ride without holding on again.
Mac pushed off. She began to sing. “She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain when she comes. She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain when she comes.” Mac kicked first one leg, then the other, high in the air. Then she flung out the arm and the leg on the same side of her body at the same time. Kick, fling! Kick, fling! What I really need, Mac thought, are wings!
At the end of the block, Mac turned around again. She pedaled fast to get up speed and stood up on the pedals. Well, as far up as she could stand and still steer. Mac pretended that her bicycle was a galloping circus horse and that she was dressed in a glittering purple leotard.
Suddenly, Molly, Mrs. Lowe’s wandering dog, dashed across the sidewalk. Mac swerved to avoid running right into her. The bike crashed to the cement. Mac screamed.
Mom shot out of the house. She ran as fast as she could to where Mac lay, tangled in her bike. “Can you get up?” Mom asked anxiously. “Did you break anything?”
Tears streamed down Mac’s face. “My hands hurt!” she wailed. “My knees hurt! My face hurts!” she sobbed.
Mom examined Mac’s scraped cheek. She looked at Mac’s skinned and bleeding hands. She gently helped her to her feet and then picked up the bike. “Let’s go get you cleaned up,” she said, rolling the bike toward the house. “I’m sure glad you were wearing your helmet like you’re supposed to!” she added.
Mac limped along, clinging to Mom’s arm. “It hurts!” she cried. “Why did that dog have to run out right in front of me? She’s a stupid old dog! Why can’t she stay at home where she belongs? She shouldn’t be running away causing accidents!”
Mom made soft, soothing answers. She parked Mac’s bike by the back porch and helped her up the steps. “Let’s run some water over your hands,” Mom said.
“It’ll hurt!” Mac shrieked, pulling away.
“I don’t think it will hurt much,” Mom said calmly. “Maybe not at all. Be brave.”
“I don’t want to be brave!” Mac sobbed.
Mom washed the cuts and scrapes on Mac’s hands and patted them dry with a paper towel. She dabbed at the blood on her cheek. She handed Mac another paper towel to wipe her eyes. “You need to stop crying,” she joked, “because your salty tears will run into the skinned place on your cheek and make it hurt worse!”
Mac gave a faint scream.
Mom stopped what she was doing and looked at her. “Do you know what?” she asked. “I realize that you hurt in lots of different places, but here’s something for you to think about. You don’t hurt at all compared to how Jesus hurt when He was tortured, and whipped, and crucified for you.”
Mac was suddenly quiet. The only sound in the room was the tick, tick of the clock on the wall. Then Mac sniffed and fresh tears streamed from her eyes. “And Jesus let them hurt Him because He loves me! He didn’t try to get away at all! He just let them hurt Him!” she sobbed. She buried her head in Mom’s sweatshirt.
Tears came to Mom’s eyes as well. They slid down her cheeks too. She kissed the top of Mac’s curly head and gave her a giant hug. “I’m so thankful Jesus was willing to suffer for us,” she whispered.
“Me too!” Mac agreed with a shuddering sigh.