Don't Give Up
Do you know there are two Passovers every year?
Well, originally there weren't. But back when the Jewish people were traveling in the desert having left Egypt, there was a group of people who, through no fault of their own, weren't able to participate in the Passover offering ceremonies that God had asked everyone to do. Even though they had a good excuse and weren't required by Jewish Law to do it, they didn't rely on their excuse, rather they came to Moses and asked, "Why should we have to miss out on this special opportunity to come closer to God like everyone else?"
Moses asked God what to do and God proclaimed the special Mitzvah of Pesach Sheni (the second Passover) one month after the first for those who missed out, to get another extra special chance.
These Jews had shown that they weren't happy with the opportunity to get out of an obligation, but really wanted to do what God asked of them and so they were rewarded with a second chance.
We can learn from here that when we want to do something worthwhile but are prevented from doing so, we shouldn't necessarily give up. If we persist, we will often succeed in unexpected ways.
In our story, a boy doesn't give up easily in his efforts to do good, and is glad he didn't ...
Dave really loved riding his bike. Sometimes he almost felt like he was flying as he whizzed past the fields, meadows, and cozy houses that dotted Farmdale, his hometown.
Today he had set out extra early to meet up with his friends from the soccer team. They were meeting at Coach Waldman's house all the way across town.
The boys had grown to love the coach who had patiently taught them valuable lessons about soccer and about life. And now that he was moving out of town they jumped at the chance to help him pack his belongings and be together with him one last time.
Dave, about half way there and making good time, took a sharp turn at the intersection by Fisher's Pond Road when he was caught by surprise at the sight of a family of ducks crossing the road. Reacting quickly, he swerved his bike onto the shoulder of the road to avoid hitting the birds. Suddenly he heard a popping sound coming from his front tire followed by a steady hiss.
Dave glanced down and his worst fears were confirmed. He had run over a broken bottle and his tire was rapidly deflating. "Now what?" he thought.
At first he considered walking home and forgetting the whole project. "After all, I have a good excuse. No one would blame me," he told himself. But then he realized how much he wanted to show his appreciation by helping his coach and how even the best excuse was no substitute for actually doing it.
So bravely he decided to continue on to his destination, only now at a snail's pace as he walked with his limping bike at his side. What seemed like an eternity later, Dave finally arrived at Coach Waldman's house. He groaned as he noticed all his friends jumping on their bikes getting ready to leave.
One of the boys looked up and noticed him. "Hey Dave, you lucked out," he quipped. "We just finished. Your flat tire saved you from a lot of hard work," he added, wiping his brow to emphasize his point. The boys chuckled but Dave didn't smile. All he could think about was how much he had wanted to help out his coach and now it looked like he had lost his chance.
The boys returned to their small talk as Dave walked past them, pushing his bike right up next to the fully packed orange U-Haul moving van, where he found the coach doing some last minute arranging. As Coach Waldman turned around, he caught sight of Dave and, glancing at the broken bike, got the picture right away. "I'm ... I'm sorry coach," stammered Dave. "I really wanted to help. It's just that my bike, you see..."
But the good-natured coach waved him off with his big hand. "No problem Dave," he said with a smile. "I can see your flat. You have a legitimate excuse. It wasn't your fault you were late. Why don't you fix your tire at the gas station across the road and ride on home with your friends?" The coach was about to turn back to his task when Dave took a step forward.
"But coach," he said firmly. "I didn't come here to make an excuse, I really want to help. Isn't there still something left for me to do to help you? Anything at all?"
Coach Waldman looked down at the boy. He studied the expression on his face and realized that he really meant what he was saying. He paused for a moment and thoughtfully scratched his beard.
"Well," he said, "there is one thing. I wasn't planning to ask any of the guys to help me with this. I wanted to do it myself -- but I still haven't packed up my trophy case. I saved it for last. Over the years we've been blessed with a lot of success and memories. Do you think you could stay on a little while and help me with it?"
A broad smile flashed across the boy's face at the special honor. As he raced to follow the coach into the almost empty house, Dave felt really glad he hadn't given up so easily in his desire to help.
Q. How did Dave feel when his tire went flat?
A. He was upset that he might not be able to help the coach. Even though he had a good excuse not to, he wanted to help anyhow.
Q. Is it okay not to do something we should when we have a good excuse?
A. Sometimes we really can't help it, but it's better to keep trying and not rely on our excuse.
Q. When Dave's bike got the flat tire he could have easily given up and gone home. Why do you think he didn't?
A. The thought crossed his mind. But he remembered why he had started out in the first place, to do the worthwhile task of helping his coach. He was able to persist and not give up by focusing on his goal even when it became difficult to accomplish.
Q. Would it have been wrong for Dave to have turned back? After all, he did get a flat tire.
A. It wouldn't have really been wrong. He had good intentions when he started out, and the flat tire wasn't his fault. Still, when he was able to persevere despite a good excuse not to, he did something great. Not only did he win his coach's respect and special attention, but he developed himself into a stronger and more successful person.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. In your opinion, if a person sincerely attempts to do something worthwhile, and is stopped by forces beyond his control, are his efforts worth just as much as if he had succeeded? Why or why not?
A. Any effort we put into doing something worthwhile has tremendous value, even when circumstances beyond our control prevent us from achieving our goal. We are responsible for sincerely trying our best, but the actual outcome is in God's hands. By keeping this in mind, we can remain motivated to persevere, and not be discouraged by setbacks.
Q. Why do you think that the coach "rewarded" Dave for coming late by allowing him to assist in packing the precious trophy case?
A. The coach accurately perceived something extraordinary in the boy. Dave persisted in asking to help even after he was told that the job was done, and even when it was obvious that he had a good excuse, the flat tire, for coming late. This revealed to the coach how sincere he was in his desire to help and made Dave worthy in his eyes of the honor of assisting him with his trophies. Far from rewarding Dave for being late, the coach rewarded him for being great.