“I can’t wait to get to Grandpa and Grandma’s farm!” I said with glee. My family was headed for Nebraska, where we’d spend the summer. My cousins, who live in Colorado, were already there, eagerly awaiting our arrival.
That summer I was especially looking forward to our annual trip. My grandparents had just bought a new four-wheel Honda all-terrain vehicle (ATV). Its main purpose was to be a farm vehicle, but its secondary (and more important) purpose was for the grandkids to ride on and drive.
The legal driving age for the Honda ATV was 16, but since the farm is private property, there would be no police officers to pull us over.
“I think you’re able to handle the ATV,” Grandpa said. So he and my parents agreed to let us take the ATV out for a spin, even though we were all under 16.
The farm covers 1,500 acres, so there’s plenty of area in which to ride the ATV. With only cows (and cow pies) to run into, it’s a fairly safe place to drive. But the farm doesn’t have paved roads. Driving on the rutted cow trails through the pasture is much like offroading: every vehicle is obliged to go slowly. Making sharp turns is almost impossible.
My cousin Stacy and I offered to run almost every errand possible just to get a chance to drive the Honda.
“Kids, would you head out and pick some currants for a pie?” Grandma asked.
As usual, we jumped at the chance.
The currant bushes were close to the house, and we could have easily walked the distance in the time it took to get the ATV out, but then we would have missed our glorious opportunity to drive.
“Isn’t this cool?” Stacy said to me. We were both very excited about going by ourselves, and we felt quite confident that we could handle anything that might come up.
“You drive to the currant patch, and I’ll drive back,” I suggested.
Stacy agreed and we were off.
“I think we’ve got enough berries now,” Stacy said after we’d filled the container. Stacy got on the back with the currants, and I started the ATV.
Stacy had parked the vehicle behind the currant bush, and I could have easily driven around it. But instead I stepped on the gas and pulled the wheel sharply to turn around the opposite way. Big mistake.
“Yikes!” I cried as we lurched up over a bump. The Honda flipped over on top of us. As we struggled to push it off, I was scared to death. Stacy was screaming, trying to get someone to come to our aid, but no one came.
I seemed to be holding up most of the ATV’s 500 pounds. I pushed with all my might until my legs began giving out.
Dear Jesus, I prayed silently, please help us!
My hard pushing and my prayers paid off. I saw Stacy crawl out from under the ATV and run toward the house as fast as she could to find help.
I tried to get out from underneath the ATV, but without Stacy’s help I was still pinned underneath from my waist down.
I lay there for about 15 minutes, panting and praying. Finally, to my great relief, I saw Aunt Kathy, Grandpa, my cousin Kirk, and my brother Keith running to my rescue.
“I’m sorry I ruined the ATV!” I blurted out to my grandparents. “Please don’t be angry with me!”
As it turned out, they were a lot more concerned about whether or not Stacy and I were hurt. Stacy had good-sized scratches, and I had black-and-blue marks starting to develop. Thankfully, we had no broken bones.
After they had gotten me out from under the ATV, Grandpa, Kirk, and Keith righted the ATV and brought it back to the house. It had no dents or scratches, but some gasoline had spilled, and one handlebar was slightly bent.
Grandpa and Grandma wouldn’t let me drive the ATV for a few days after that, and Aunt Kathy wouldn’t let me take my cousins for a ride at all. It’s taken me a couple of years to regain her trust.
I learned a lesson the hard way about being careful with vehicles. But I also learned that God cares about His children, even when they’ve steered themselves into trouble.
Illustrated by Javier Saltares