During the summer of 1992, I was taking a Bible Study at Our Lady of Humility Church on Tuesday evenings. One of those evenings, our group was interrupted by a frantic phone call from Charlie, age 10.
“Mom, they stole my bikes, they stole my bikes!”
“Some kids. Danny and Andy and I went into the card shop to look at baseball cards, and we left our bikes out front. When we came out, my bikes were gone.” Charlie was crying and devastated. “They didn’t even take Danny’s bike, only mine (one of which Andy was riding).”
He’d gotten one bike as a present, and the other he’d saved up his paper route money to buy this brand new, shiny, chrome bike. It was gorgeous. Plus, just the week before, he’d bought these special spiked pedals, and it took us hours to figure out how to take the old pedals off, and put the new pedals on. Anyway, I told him to call the police and file a report, and that I’d be home shortly. But before I left the Bible study, we all prayed that the bikes would be found.
OK- so on Thursday afternoon (2 days later), a gorgeous, hot day- perfect for swimming, Danny and Andy’s mom, Linda, drove us all to the pool. We found a spot where all of us could spread out our towels, and we settled in. I usually like to sit in the sun for about 10 minutes, and get really hot and sweaty, and then jump into the pool to cool off. So, there I am, lying on my beach towel, getting warmed up, and I hear, “Go get the bikes.”
Dip! It was God, and we’d just got there. “Now?” I thought. “We just got here, and Linda drove. This is bad timing. Can’t we do it later?” He did not answer, and I did not budge. (I need to get better at obeying God, tho).
Anyway, around 5pm, we all left the pool, and right after Linda dropped the three of us off at our house, I said to Charlie and Erin, “We’re gonna go find your bikes. God told me at the pool to go find your bikes.”
“How are we gonna do that?” Charlie asked.
“Well- the Holy Spirit will guide us, and He’ll tell us where to go, and we’ll find ‘em.”
Erin (age 8) says, “How will the Holy Spirit do that?” And I said, “Well, we’ll pray that He’ll guide us, and then we’ll get in the van, and then whenever one of us gets a word from God, we’ll obey it.”
They both seemed very eager to do this, so we all jumped into our van, prayed a quick prayer, and then we were off. “Now remember, you listen, and maybe He’ll shoot through your head, ‘Turn right’, or maybe He’ll give you a picture of a house where the bikes are, and we’ll look for a house that looks like the picture.”
“Well,” said Erin, “I just heard, ‘Turn left’.” So we did. And then Charlie got a word to turn right after a few blocks, and so it went for about an hour.
Then, God said, “They don’t look like you think they do.” I had no idea what He meant by that, but I told the kids. They wondered too what He meant. But I said, “Keep your eyes peeled for bikes, and maybe we’ll get a knowing in our hearts that the bikes are Charlie’s, even though they don’t look like his bikes.”
So, for another hour, we drove around. We saw a group of kids on bikes at a distance, in the yard of a house that set way back up a hill. We thought that Charlie’s bikes were with those kids, and we drove by them very slowly, looking intently at all the kids and their bikes. We weren’t sure, so we drove around the block to look at them again, but when we came back to that house, the kids and bikes were gone. “I think they knew we suspected something,” said Charlie. Erin asked what we were gonna do if we saw the bikes? We all wondered how much longer we were gonna be driving around.
We were tired and hungry, and I stopped the car by pulling over to the curb near the fire station. We asked God what to do. Then, Charlie said, “Mom- see those kids at the fire station? One of ‘em is on my bike!”
I looked over. “Which kid?”
“The taller one with the black t-shirt. What should we do?”
“Well- we’re gonna go get it back,” I said. But truly, I did not think it was Charlie’s bike, because it really didn’t look like either of the ones that were his. I remembered what God said, but I was nervous. So, the three of us got out of the van, and calmly walked up to the kid on the bike. He was surrounded by 7 other kids, all straddling their bikes. I began talking to the kid. “Excuse me. That bike you’re on is my son’s bike.”
“Yea right,” he said. “This is MY bike.”
“No, I believe it is my son’s bike. It was stolen 2 days ago, and this bike you’re on is his.” I was being very polite, because I do not like confrontation, plus, I still was not sure it was Charlie’s bike.
“No way- I got this bike 2 weeks ago from a friend.” I knew we weren’t getting anywhere and that this kid was not gonna hand over the bike, so I was frustrated for a second.
But then. Then… I looked down and saw the pedals. The shiny new pedals that Charlie had bought. The pedals that took us 2 hours to put on the bike! Then, I knew this was Charlie’s bike. Out of my mouth came a strong wind, and I found myself saying something I never would have said, “GET OFF THAT BIKE!” and the kid literally flew up into the air, vertically, about 2 feet, and then was flung backwards, off the bike, and dropped onto the pavement. He looked terrified and bewildered, and grabbed one of his friend’s bikes, and took off on it, peddling as fast as he could. All of us: The 7 other kids, Charlie, Erin, and I -even the fireman who’d been witnessing this whole interchange, were astounded! We picked up Charlie’s bike, and asked the fireman to call the police.
Then, I explained to all the kids that God had directed us to this very place, to give Charlie his bike back. That God had taken that kid off of Charlie’s bike. That God loved Charlie so much, and God knew how hard Charlie worked and saved up to get this bike. One kid asked us how God directed us to this place, and we told him about how we’d been directed by the Holy Spirit, and we’d been driving around for 2 hours. They were mesmerized. When the lady police officer came, she scraped off the black paint on the body of the bike, and, behold! The serial numbers were revealed, they matched the ones registered to Charlie, and then everyone really knew that this was, indeed, Charlie’s bike. One of the kids fessed up that another kid had stolen Charlie’s other bike, but didn’t know where he was.
We encouraged those 7 kids to be close to God, and since it was getting dark, we put his bike in the van, and drove back home. We praised the Lord, thanked Him, and grinned all the way home. Charlie called Danny and Andy, and told them the whole story. From then on, we three have always come to expect God to talk to us and have loved Him even deeper. God is Good!