Billy Marshall’s Salvation

This month has been crazy so far, starting back at the end of April, as I worked on finishing up nursing school, but God has been very kind, providing extra jobs for me to work to finish paying off school tuition, helping me figure out what to eat week to week as I haven’t had a brain cell to spare, providing the opportunity to see family and a dear friend from out of town, knitting my heart to the two precious girls I will be living with for at least a year since I’ve finished school, and giving me a deep, hopeful, relentless joy and trust in Him throughout the process.

Through the summer I have a goal of writing a short devotional post every week using Bible verse graphics that I have designed. The first one will be published today. I hope they are a blessing to you!

Remember how Isabella Alden wrote a story intended to be a clear explanation of the gospel? This is my attempt at that. Also similarly to how Isabella’s friend shared her story, I shared the story with a dear friend and her response encouraged me to share it with you. I wrote this story with as much relatable kid action as I could think of, and tried to focus on details that would be interesting to a kid, while drawing out the gospel and holding it out as it is; valuable for people of all ages to know and believe.

A great activity for this story would be for someone to read it aloud while everyone else colors or puts together a puzzle.

Billy Marshall’s Salvation

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Billy. His full name was William Thomas Marshall. He lived in Boerne, Texas. 

Photo by Nathan Hanna on Unsplash

When he was eight years old the pastor of the small Church at the end of Thomas road which his family attended, died. While his pastor always had a pat on the head and a kind word for Billy, Billy didn’t really know him. His replacement was Pastor James Martin. James Martin was fresh out of seminary. He began seminary when he was in his very early thirties so he had a lot of experience in life and ministry.  

For some reason as soon as Billy saw him he liked him. He greeted Billy with a smile and a handshake. The pastor noticed that Billy failed to take his eyes off of him, and after greeting everyone else that he felt really needed to be talked to, he came over to talk to Billy. His attention was immediately capitalized on by Stevie Daniels though and after asking them the usual questions people ask little kids about their age, favorite color, grade and pets and answering Stevie’s abundant questions on unrelated trivial subjects, he said “Billy, have you ever personally committed your life to Christ?”.  

“What do you mean?” Billy responded.  

Photo by Pixabay on

“I mean, well…You know that God created the world right? Stevie and Billy both nodded. “So we have to live by his rules?” They both nodded again, proud to know the answers. “Have you always obeyed God’s rules?” He further questioned. 

“Uh…no” Billy said not looking up from the cars he was driving along roads he had made in the mulch in the edge of the flower bed in the Church lot.  

Billy looked up to see the pastor’s serious face.  

“I’m in the same boat” he responded “having sinned… and fallen short of the glory of God”.  

“That’s out of the Bible isn’t it?” Billy asked, looking up again after he pulled his truck that he was pretending was a police car into the parking lot of the large flat white rock he had dubbed the police station. “Yeah” Pastor Martin responded, “and it describes both of us doesn’t it Billy?” 

“Yeah” Billy said in answer. “So what happens to us because we broke God’s rules? Isn’t there some kind of punishment?” Billy asked as though he were only half paying attention. He looked like he was concentrating on making a road between his newly formed road connecting the dump site for the rocks he picked up with his dump truck and the pile of all the sticks he had collected from the mulch in the garden but he was really thinking about what the pastor was saying.  

Photo by Pixabay on

“Ye…” Pastor Martin started to say, but Stevie was not interested in talking about sin and judgment. He was completely absorbed in the town they were building in the mulch. He made this fact evident by interrupting the pastor and asking him to help him construct a grocery store so his stick people would not go hungry. Before anyone else could say anything else Billy was called over to meet a boy who was new at Church. Billy was unable to return to the mulch city site because the boy he was charged with entertaining was totally uninterested in dump trucks and wanted to play tag with the younger kids instead (the boy was two years younger than Billy). 

After Church Billy wanted to come up and ask the pastor about the punishment for sin but he was unaccustomed to talking to people so much older than he was and several people came up to talk to Pastor Martin after the service. Billy just leaned on a nearby pillar and listened.  

Photo by Pixabay on

As soon as he was available Pastor Martin turned to Billy. “Have you been thinking about what we were talking about earlier?” 

“Yes sir” Billy responded grinding his toe in the dirt.  

“Would you like to build your mulch town while we talk?” The pastor asked off hand.  

“Yeah!” Billy smiled, “Will you help?” 

“Of course” Pastor Martin replied, smiling. When they were seated on the mulch, after they had been playing for a few minutes the pastor asked Billy “What do you think that punishment might be?” Billy had already put together in his head that it had something to do with Hell, a word he had only ever heard in connection with a place of eternal punishment forever, so, though he had probably not said it before in his life, except maybe reciting the catechism or some other such thing, he was not in the least bashful about his prompt, one word reply “Hell”.  

The pastor smiled encouragingly. “So what does ‘Hell’ mean?”  

“Something about fire…?” Billy watched Pastor Martin’s face to see if his answer had been 

 The pastor’s face slightly clouded.  

“Yes, and what else?”  

“I don’t know…” Billy couldn’t think of anything else other than “Weeping and gnashing of teeth?” 

“Let’s look at it this way, is it a good thing or a bad thing for God to be angry?” 

“Bad” Billy responded, placing another stick at the top of his tower. 

“But he has a right to be doesn’t he? We did break his rules.” The pastor asked his eyes intensely focused on Billy. 

“Yeah” Billy responded, he was thinking and his hands had stopped moving. He was staring at the field next to the Church. “Is that why Jesus died?” he finally asked looking into his Pastor’s face to see a triumphant smile.  

“Yes!” The pastor answered, his triumphant gesture knocked over Billy’s mulch tower. “Oops” he grinned. And for a few minutes they didn’t speak as he rebuilt the tower, marveling at the ingenuity of little boys because it fell down several times despite his most careful efforts.  

After Billy extended the mulch city’s road systems, he helped the pastor finish the tower. 

When they sat back to get a good look at their work Billy asked “So even the Bad people go to Heaven?” Billy asked, his face screwed up like a raisin.  

“Since the Bible says all have sinned,” Pastor Martin responded, “Aren’t we all bad people?”

“So it doesn’t matter if people do good things?” 

The pastor didn’t speak for a few minutes. His brow was furrowed as though he was thinking. “Excuse me” he finally said. Then he silently slipped one of Billy’s trucks into his pocket and went off to talk to Mr. Barnes. Mr. Barnes was the head deacon and was locking up the Church. Billy’s dad was having a lively discussion with Stevie’s parents and the parents of a couple of other children I haven’t introduced yet and Billy’s Mom was talking several other women about their recipes…for practically everything. The rest of the children were playing tag or helping Tom Smith catch a frog. 

Photo by Guillaume Meurice on

Billy played by himself for a while and then began to pack up his trucks so he could put them in his car before he played tag with the other children. He didn’t see his yellow dump truck anywhere. He put the rest of his trucks in the car and then ran over to Stevie. “Hey, Stevie!” He puffed, “have you seen my yellow truck?” Stevie shook his head. He was panting too hard from his narrow escape from being tagged by Ricky Nelson to talk.  

Photo by Mike on

After thinking for a couple of minutes Billy ran over to the pastor who was just finishing up his conversation with Mr. Barnes. He waited politely until Pastor Martin finished talking and then asked him “Have you seen my yellow truck?” 

“Yes I have! It’s in my pocket right now.”

He didn’t say anything else and turned to pick up his Bible and notebook that were sitting on the ledge outside the Church window.  

“So aren’t you going to give it back?” Billy asked.  

“Oh you want me to give you something?” The pastor responded sounding as though he didn’t understand. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a sheet of paper “here you go!” he said with a broad smile.  

“So you’re not going to give me back my truck?” Billy asked.  

“You want something else?” The pastor answered as though he were puzzled. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of gum. “Do you want this?” He asked.  

“I want my truck” Billy said, trying not to be impatient.  

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on

“I promise I won’t take any more of your trucks” Pastor Martin responded “here” he said reaching into his pocket and pulled out everything he had in there except the truck. He also pulled everything out of his coat pockets and laid everything in them at his feet. He knelt on one knee and begged Billy to forgive him.  

“Sure” Billy responded, slightly amused by the pastor’s dramatic demonstration “So you’ll give my truck back?” 

“I promised not to steal any more of your trucks though” Pastor Martin reminded him “and I won’t unless I want one of them very badly, and then I’ll be sorry and try not to take any more!”  

“And you’ll give back my truck?” Billy asked. He had asked this same question in many forms already and he was beginning to wonder if the pastor would ever actually give back his truck. It would be really weird to have to go to his Dad and ask him to make the pastor give back his truck.  

“So I can’t give you anything to make you happy except your truck? Even if I promise to try not to take any more of your trucks?” The pastor asked.  

“Pretty much” Billy said grimly.  

“But what if I do a bunch of nice things for you” Pastor Martin queried, “Or what if I tell everyone at Church I think you are very well behaved?”  

“I just want my truck back!” Billy exclaimed.  

“So I can’t give you anything or do anything for you that will make you happy, besides giving you your truck?” Pastor Martin clarified.  

“Pretty much” Billy repeated, surprised that Pastor Martin could be so dense.  

“You’re a really picky and selfish boy!” he exclaimed.  

“You shouldn’t have taken my truck.” 

“But I offered you all the stuff in my pockets and promised not to take any more of your trucks! I even offered to do some extra nice things for you!” 

“But you took my truck and I want it back.” 

“Why won’t you just be content with something else? I offered you the stuff in my pockets that is more valuable than a little yellow dump truck. I even offered to do some extra nice things for you!” the pastor repeated. 

“I asked you for the truck. It’s mine, it’s my favorite out of all of them and I don’t need any of that other stuff.” 

Pastor Martin smiled and handed him his truck. “That’s how it is with God” he explained. 

Then he started picking up his pocket stuff from the Church driveway.  

Billy was curious now “What do you mean?” 

“I mean” Pastor James responded. “that there is nothing we can do to make God happy except giving him what belongs to him and what he has asked us for many times; loving obedience. No matter how hard we have tried every one of us has failed to do that many times and there is nothing we can substitute for perfect loving obedience.”

Pastor Martin paused to pick up a small notebook and after putting it in his breast pocket he went on,

“And that’s why we need Jesus Christ to offer his perfect loving obedience to God on our behalf. That is what his death on the cross accomplished; he took the punishment our lack of perfect loving obedience deserves so that as many people as come to God acknowledging that they have not given him perfect loving obedience and asking him to accept Christ’s perfect loving obedience on their account can be forgiven. God said ‘O.K., I’ll do that’ by raising Jesus from the dead.”

“Do you believe that for you to be saved from God being angry at you, God has to accept Christ’s perfect loving obedience for you instead of looking at what good things you do? Are you willing to follow Him and obey Him?” 

Billy nodded his head.  

“Great!” Pastor Martin responded hugging him and after picking up the last of his pocket stuff he went to talk to Deacon Fuller about the sprinkler system.  

Discussion questions:

  • Have you ever sinned?
  • How would you describe sin?
  • What are some sins you struggle with? Do you believe Jesus paid for them?
  • How would you tell someone about Jesus?
  • Who is someone you can ask when you have a question about God? Who is someone you can help with questions about God?
  • What are some of your favorite toys? What do you like about them?
  • What would you do if someone took something special to you?

Published by Katie Elise Pradia

Hi! I am a nursing school graduate and an aspiring pediatric nurse. I am passionate about Jesus Christ and sharing him with others.

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