It's Like Riding a Bike
- Wednesday, August 06, 2008
As this past Mother’s Day drew closer, my family asked the same question they’ve asked year in and year out: What would you like for Mother’s Day?
In years past I’d feigned indignation. “How can you ask me that?” I’d tease. “Shouldn’t you know what I want? A day of rest? Dinner out? My feet massaged?”
But this year I had a real answer. “I want a bike,” I said.
This time it was my husband who gave the look. “When was the last time you were on a bike?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered. “But the rule of thumb is: once you’ve ridden one, you’ll always know how.” Thus, I’m certain, comes the old saying, “It’s like riding a bike.”
“What do you intend to do with it?” he asked.
“Ride it,” I said. “And get into better shape in the process.”
But what I didn’t expect with my new personal training toy is the spiritual lessons I’d glean or the spiritual muscles I’d tone. And then timing of four of them were crucial to the new path God and I were about to venture upon.
And Off We Go
First, let me tell you that it’s true… that whole thing about “riding a bike.” I don’t remember it being so difficult, but I kept the wheels steady, the wind at my face, and—when I grew too tired to push the pedals round and round and round—I remembered to stand, give it a few good pushes, and then coast. By the time I’d hit mile 3 (or was it 4?) I was enjoying the ride enough to smell the jasmine that hung thick and sweet on the vine and to even chat with God a little. Breathless, but chatting.
Within a few days, however, my bike time had become my “other” prayer time. And I became somewhat defensive and protective about this time. This is my time with God. I chat with him but mostly I listen.
Always Keep a Look Out Ahead One particular morning within the past month as I was taking my ride, I coasted around a bend in the road, keeping my heart wide open to hear God’s whisper to it. From the turn, I jumped up on a sidewalk; this was a busy stretch of road and the cement is safer than the asphalt. Just as I did, I noticed some work that had apparently started the day before, after my last ride. Literally, about six feet of the sidewalk was missing, replaced by a large hole. I cut my eyes to the right. I had just enough time to slip onto the road without mingling with transportation of the four-wheeled persuasion.
Keep a look for what’s ahead, God whispered.
I nodded. In life, we never know what’s coming. But God does. His vision and perception of time is past, present, and future all at once. He knows what I did yesterday, he knows what I’m doing right now, and he knows what I’ll be doing in the future. Knowing this enables me to:
- Ask him daily to place my feet only on the paths where he would have me be
- Ask him to warn me through that check in my spirit when I take a wrong step or advance to a dangerous road
- Ask him (and this is always my special prayer) to “open the doors he wants open, close the doors he wants closed, and keep my hands off the doorknobs.”
That doesn’t mean I run around blindly. My job is to keep my eyes open but it is also to keep my spiritual heart and ears open as well.
Always Keep a Look Out Behind I heard a car approaching from behind. Keep a look out for what’s coming up behind you…
So true, Lord. Sometimes life has a way of sneaking up on you. The most innocent of things can come back to bite us…um, in the tush. Sin has consequences. It’s forgiven when we run to the Father and plead the blood of the Son, but the consequences can remain.
I was recently talking with a young woman who was bemoaning the fact she was having difficulty getting a job. “I have the credentials,” she said. “I have my interviews, they go well, they say they will be calling me back—they’re sure—and then a few days later I learn I didn’t get the job. It makes no sense.”
I encouraged her to contact one of the jobs she recently been passed up for. “Come right out and ask,” I suggested.
She did. In fact, she called more than one. She called three. Do you know why—straight down the line—she was passed up for the job? Because her potential employers checked out her MySpace.com and other online accounts. There were photos and messages she thought were cute at the time of posting but now thought better of. When she cleared out the online trash, she was almost immediately employed.
Watch for Others Along the Way As I continued forward, I dipped into a little neighborhood filled with winding roads and shaded by large oaks. It’s my favorite part of the ride, but with the roads curving as they do, I have to keep a watch for who might be ahead of me. As popular as this neighborhood is with bikers, it’s even more so with walkers and runners.
Sometimes those walkers are older. They are…shall we say…strolling. If I don’t stay alert for them, I will either run them over or they will force me onto the spongy grass or into oncoming traffic.
Life is like that, the Lord whispered again. Sometimes it’s the people we encounter who can trip us up along the way.
I thought of the admonishments I’d given to my children when they were teenagers. “Who you hang around with will either hold you up or bring you down. Be careful who you walk next to.”
The good Lord knows the same is true for this grandmother as it is for any young person.
There Will Always Be Poop Along the Way
Our neighborhood policy is that if you “walk your dog” you “clean up behind your dog.” All along the way folks amble behind their four-legged furry friends. They have a leash in one hand and a plastic bag in the other.
But, sadly, not everyone pooper-scoops. Some people prefer to leave it behind for unsuspecting bike riders like me to ride over. Yuck.
No matter how well you plan it out…that tiny whisper again…part of living is running into some poop every now and then.
We watch out for it as best we can but sometimes, well, it’s just too late. And then we have a mess to clean up. Fortunately, there’s water from the hose at home to spray down the tires or wash off the shoes.
There’s also the Living Water who manages to wash the messes we step into or ride over in our spiritual walk (or ride) as well. We can’t always avoid the poop but we can always run to the Water.
Keep Your Wheels Pointed Toward Home As I turned the final corner that morning I realized that from the moment I’d left the house, the wheels of my bike had been—in effect—pointed toward home. Always remember where your spiritual home is…and run to the Father in prayer. No matter what, keep that focus. I am here. I am at Home. And I am waiting to chat with you.
I arrived back and the house ready to delve into the Scriptures, excited at what God had told me during our bike ride together. I jotted down a few notes, then showered, changed, and headed back to into my office. Not a minute later my husband came in, looking quite pale.
Within the span of a few words and minutes, I was calling 9-1-1. The next few days were filled with doctors and nurses, personal care technicians, cardiologists and their array of tests, phone calls to family and friends, prayer unlike anything I’ve ever felt before and—finally—heart surgery.
The very points God had given to me on my bike ride were now those lessons pushing me forward and helping me to keep my balance and momentum. With every step I took—one foot in the past and the other in the present (as my friend Robert Benson has so beautifully pointed out in his book A Good Life), I…we…headed toward an uncertain future. But God was there…all the way.
Just last night I took another bike ride, this time with my husband on a bike behind me. “We are fam-i-ly,” we sang, but only a line or two. Then we peddled silently—for the most part—each of us with our ears open to what God had to say to us on that particular ride.
And tomorrow, we will listen again.
Eva Marie Everson’s book Reflections of God’s Holy Land: A Personal Journey Through Israel will soon be released by Thomas Nelson. It is, she says, the “book of my heart.” For more information go to: www.evamarieeverson.com
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