This story is not about ghosts made of chalk. It is about a man who committed a crime when he was a boy, and who never found forgiveness for it. The ghosts are a device used to represent the memories and guilt-feelings from the past, and it shows how confessions can bring peace at last to a troubled conscience. (A similar situation occurs in the Lord of the Rings, where the 'dead' cannot truly die until they have fulfilled their oath and fought for a king of men, Aragorn grants them this right and they die at last.)
Psalms 32:5 "I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the LORD; and you forgave the iniquity of my sin."
1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
This story goes inside the boy. We find a lonely soul, timid and introverted. He is someone who has trouble expressing himself, or asserting himself. He loves the quiet game of chess, but in order to please his friends and father he tries to be good at a game he does not like cricket.
After prayer God gives him the ability to play cricket like a champion, an experience he enjoys. But now the boy is faced with a new problem, to continue with cricket, or to openly declare his love of chess? The irony is, the better he is at cricket, the less he wants to play it, and the more he longs to play chess. He is not moved by the sudden popularity he is receiving, but he remains quiet and fails to speak out. While he is thinking about this, one of the boys on his team knocks him down. It looked like an accident but the boy knows it wasn't. He is surprised by the animosity a team mate feels towards him, but should he be?
The story shows a situation many people find themselves in, to be themselves, and do the things that most interest them, or to conform to the preferences of the group? Many people suppress their inner abilities and skills, sacrificing them on the altar of the crowd's approval.
Matthew 25:25 "And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: lo, there you have that which is yours."
God gives us all talents, to all of us different talents, and we are then given the opportunity to develop these talents. We may hide them if we wish, but when we are called to account God will want to see what we have done with those things He gave us.
This humorous story is about a girl who is bitten by a Cartoon Bug, and she subsequently changes into a cartoon, but the underlying theme is of a child who cannot get close to her workaholic father. The symbolism of cartoonising the girl is a way of representing the girl as the way her father sees her flat and uninteresting. When he finally does wake up to what a precious child she is, it is too late and she has become what she was to him.
The humorous twist at the end is probably something many kids feel when they are sick, this is great! Look at all the attention I'm getting, I'd like to stay sick!
It is said, "the squeaky door gets the oil", and in any classroom, the disruptive or difficult child gets the most time from the teacher. Some kids are deliberately naughty because they are starved for attention. For many people, a trip to the hairdresser or the hospital is a pleasant time because of the special attention, in Flat Out the girl says "And best of all, I have lots of time with Dad."
Psalms 17:8 "Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings."
Psalms 84:10 "For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand (days anywhere else)."
Luke 10:39 "And she (Martha) had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word." Mary preferred the company of Jesus to anything else in the world.
C.S.Lewis said that we are all moving in either of two directions; we are either becoming gradually more like God or gradually more like Satan. It all depends on our moment by moment decisions, our choices, as we are faced with 'forks in the road'. In this story we have a boy called Spotty, who has chosen to be like a wild animal. His words and actions show nothing but self-centredness, which is a form of idolatry, so, with a little help from Pundi, he becomes just that, an animal, although we hasten to add that the effects of the 'soup' soon wear off. "The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws." Daniel 4:33 This story raises the question: what we are changing into? If we projected our lives down through to old age, what would we be? There are many old, and sweet people in the world, and many old, and horrible people. Could it be they were young and sweet, or young and horrible once, and time has matured their chosen path? God once changed a man into a wild creature, but what are we changing into?
Make A Wish
This is a funny story about a leprechaun who grants three wishes, but all but one of the wishes are wasted. The boys soon learn that when they ask for something they have to be specific, which is a good lead into the way we ought to pray. Vague prayers get vague answers. God wants us to pin our prayers on some facts, so our faith is exercised.
The leprechaun is a device, in the story, to give the boys the opportunity to reveal their heart's desires. Reginald thinks only of short-term material things. What do we set our hearts on? What are the correct priorities for a Christian? Matthew chapter 5-7 has many good answers.
Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
The question the story asks is, what would we do if we were granted such a gift as to have anything we wished for? Are we wise enough to make the right wishes? Would we ask selfishly or unselfishly?
"In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee." 1 Kings 3:5
The main character in this story is perceived by other people to be handicapped, but it is obvious to the reader that this is not the case. The main character thinks clearly, and sees many things other people miss the tiny details of nature for instance.
The dream sequence is a device representing escape from reality, strength, speed, special abilities, and then a flight into the mer-people's domain, and the focus of the story is reached. Will the main character exchange his (or her deliberately non-specific) home, where he is loved by good parents, for the offered escape into a free life under the waves? The answer comes from his own mouth: "I have a great Mum . . . and Dad is the best Dad ever." These words sum up the realization the main character has which turns the corner, he decides it is better to live where he is loved, than to run away from his problems.
The theme is love and friendship. It encourages us to try to understand people who are different to us. Who know how much that 'handicapped' person really knows, or feels?
Proverbs 17:17 "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
Proverbs 20:5 "Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out."
Many of us have acquaintances, which we wrongly term "friends", but how many of us have true "friends"? These are very precious and rare people who stick close to us through everything. The name "friend" should not be applied to people we simply like, or who like us.
Spike is a thief and a fraudster. Like many people, he exploits other people for his personal gain, but he soon learns that what he does to others, they can sometimes do back to him! In the same way, God often intervenes in life, to make justice catch up with those who practise bad things. "The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death." Proverbs 21:6 "For the love of money is the root of all evil:" 1 Timothy 6:10 This story also has the eccentric Mrs Huddy, who deliberately dresses in a whacky way to suggest to Spike that she can be easily robbed. How much do we judge other people by their appearance? Was Mrs Huddy happy in her quiet, sequestered life? In what way would Spike really be better off if he had a lot of money? Did Mrs Huddy's wealth affect her life? Why did Spike cry when he drove up to the waiting police was he sorry for what he had done, or sorry that he had been caught?