Do you remember the day that you learned to ride a bicycle? Maybe it was not just one day, but several. Do you remember who it was that helped you to learn? For some of us, this means taking a trip down memory lane. It also might mean a recollection of spills, bruises, and tears. After all, it is the learning part that can bring the pain. Once you learn, it is just fine-tuning after that. In fact, after you gain a little confidence, it seems a whole other world opens to you. Moving faster than you have ever been able to run…the wind in your face, the thrill of winning—oops, fell again… the agony of defeat….up again and pedaling for all your might!
At our home, a few years ago, we were fortunate to have our grandchildren around when it was time to learn to ride their bikes. Out oldest was eight at the time, our youngest was five. It was time to take off the training wheels for our eight-year-old and time to try to ride unsupported. And that meant that Papa had to be alongside, running up and down the street encouraging, “Peddle, peddle, peddle!” and “You are doing great, keep it up.” Over and over and over, again. Tears, bruises, scrapes and frustration were all a part of the experience. Then there was the day when it all came together. Peddles turning, balance gained and squealing with glee—hitting the open road. Hurray! Since that time his skills for riding have improved greatly. He can stop, turn, and oh, yes, go down hills with his feet off the pedals, coasting as fast as the inline will take him. Now there are smiles and anticipation for the next time we’ll be able to go riding our bikes together.
Then not to long afterwards it was time for our granddaughter. She wanted me to take the training wheels off her bike so she could ride like her big brother. And…we took the training wheels off and went out into the street. With helmet on and excitement high, we ventured up the road. “I have to hold you, just keep peddling,” I exclaimed. “Papa…I don’t like this,” were the words out of her mouth. After a few minutes, our first training session was over, and the training wheels came back on. It was only later when we tried again that she yelled, “let go, I can do this!” and she was sailing like she had always been a cyclist. It took her a few times, but she had learned how to ride a bike by watching her brother take far more licks and spills. She was ready to go without much more than a push.
Our relationship with God can be very much the same. For the so-called “experienced” believer, God is common ground. It is like sitting down and feeling the wind in your face. The ride is exhilarating and new each time you ride. For others, the experience is new, scary and we would like training wheels put on. We are not ready for such independence yet. But God remains available, ever present, holding on to us, helping us, encouraging us to keep trusting in him—and yes, sometimes letting us put the training wheels back on until we are ready for the next step of faith. Putting our trust in God, is like someone hanging on the back of our bike, saying “it’s OK…I got you.” Even when we learn to ride, we still may fall—it happens—from time to time. But knowing what it is like to experience the relationship with God, gives us courage and strength for the ride.
Have you been out for a ride lately? Maybe it is time to remember the joy of life’s ride—or perhaps it’s time to trust God’s presence for you for a first time.