She stood, staring at the driveway before her; a perfect horseshoe-shaped driveway in her grandmother’s front yard. Maybe not such a big deal for a grown-up, but to a seven-year-old learning to ride her bike without her training wheels, it’s huge! She had been practicing at home and she remembered the day Daddy took the training wheels off of the bike. “Are you sure you’re ready for this?” he asked. “Of course I am sure,” she answered. She hopped on and immediately realized how unstable it was now without the training wheels to support her. Daddy grabbed her quick before she fell all the way. She balanced herself and Daddy held on to the back of the seat of the bike. She started pedaling and Daddy walked along side of her until she got going and then he let go. But when it’s all grass in your yard at home, it’s not as rewarding because you certainly can’t go as fast.
Maybe “fast” shouldn’t be her biggest concern right now. “Balancing” would be great. After all, it was just three days ago that she fell off the bike onto grandma’s driveway and scraped her knee up pretty bad. Thank God her older cousin saw her and took her inside to clean up the scrape and put medicine on it. At the time, she thought, “I’ll never be able to do this! I’m just too wobbly on that stupid bike!” Her cousin tried to encourage her to try again, but her genetic stubbornness got in the way. How ironic, that ever since, she had thought of nothing but trying it again.
Every day, she would beg her parents to take her to grandma’s so she can ride her bike on real pavement. She explained to them that riding in the yard just wasn’t the same. Sure, it didn’t hurt nearly as bad as falling on the pavement, but it just wasn’t the same.
Now, here she is, once again facing the driveway. She glances around to make sure no one is watching her. She doesn’t want to embarrass herself if she falls again and someone sees her. She steadies her right foot on the pedal. She looks down at the scrape on her knee and realizes that it is healing pretty well and doesn’t even hurt anymore. She takes a deep breath and pushes off with her left foot and the bike moves forward across the pavement.
She settles onto the seat and says to herself, “Hey, I’m going pretty good.” She feels the handlebars start to tremble. Tightening her grip, she gets the bike back under control. “Whew!” Suddenly, as the wind blows warmly through her hair, she looks ahead….. it’s the end of the driveway. She’s going to have to …. (Gulp!)…. turn! Immediately, she brakes too hard and veers the handlebars too far as she tries to make the turn. It is then like she is moving in slow motion. The bike is leaning, then falling and her eyes are widening and before she knows it, she lands on her backside.
More angry than upset, she stands up, holding back her tears and feels like kicking the bike. But she realizes that it’s not the bike’s fault. After all, when she had the training wheels on, she turned all the time with ease. She admitted to herself that she choked; she was afraid and simply turned too sharply. She dusts herself off and again, looks around to make sure no one saw her. She picks the bike up and with fierce determination in her eyes; she gets back on because she knows, with all of her heart, that eventually, she will be able to do this.
Three hours and a dozen or so more falls later, the seven-year-old proudly smiles with glee as she circles around her grandmother’s driveway; making every turn, going around and around, faster and faster. Just then, her daddy and grandma come out of grandma’s house.
“I know, sweetie!! We’ve been watching you, we’re so proud of you!” Daddy says.
She brings the bike to a stop in front of them, sweating and out of breath, but obviously, exhilarated. “You’ve been watching me? So you saw all the times I fell?” All of a sudden, she was embarrassed again.
Her grandma took her in her arms, gave her a big bear hug and said, “Honey, you never would have learned to ride if you hadn’t kept falling down.”
Isn’t that how God is with us sometimes? He stands back and painfully watches us have to fall and make our own mistakes. And how proud He is when we stand back up and try again to do it the right way. I am now thirty-four years old, but I still find myself falling down, spiritually and emotionally. I’ve had to face the fact that I am not and will not be perfect. But I can pick myself back up and seek God and He will steer me on the right path.
I know I’ll still be wobbly at times and that’s OK. Because I have a determination called “Faith” and an encourager called “Hope”. No matter what turns come my way in life, I know I have my Abba Father who will come to my side and help me back up. Even though I may not always see Him, I know He is there watching and I know He is proud of me for being determined, seeking Him with all of my heart, and not giving up on Him.
Quite honestly, if it hadn’t been for all of my falls throughout my life, I do not know if I’d realize the awesome value of God’s grace and mercy as much as I do today. The falls have humbled me and certainly helped knock the pride out of me. I have the scrapes and scars to prove it.
So, I am still learning to ride and I am very excited about it. Even though I am fully aware of the possibility of future falls; I understand that those falls will help me ride better and make the ride all the more worthwhile. For the Lord will sustain me, whether I am cruising along with the wind in my hair or whether I am picking myself back up after I tried to make a turn too sharply.
“…what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 NIV)
“‘Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord…” (Jeremiah 29:12-14 NIV)
“I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” (Psalm 3:5 NIV)
May God continue to bless you as you continue to learn to ride through this journey, known as your life.