Last week my little girl learned to ride her bike. 10 days shy of her 6th birthday the training wheels came off and now I’m watching her fly through the neighborhood with her long, blonde ponytail trailing behind her. It’s a really beautiful thing. It’s amazing to see your kids learn new things and actually put them into practice. As a parent, it is so affirming. BUT…let’s get down to the real stuff. It didn’t just happen. It wasn’t without drama or pain. It was actually a pretty miserable experience, if I’m honest. I did not enjoy it at all and she enjoyed it even less. At first, she cried. A lot. And then she fell. A bunch of times. “Fell” might be an understatement…she flat out crashed over and over in an effort to try to figure out the whole process of stopping. She ate the pavement, she scratched her hands, she even scratched up her new bike. Then she didn’t just cry, she bawled. She begged not to get back on and I made her. She said she didn’t care if she never learned to ride it but I made her get back on. She told me I was the “meanest mom that had ever lived” and I said, “I know” as my heart was hurting inside I could hardly stand it. Her daddy tried for awhile and then we switched as not to loose it with her. We tried tough love, we prayed with her, we repeated “Be strong and courageous” until we hardly believed it ourselves, then we just shamelessly took to bribing her which got us nowhere. Over the course of a few days, we took turns struggling with her…. AND THEN…..the lightbulb came on in that cute, exhausted head of hers, and she got it. It just clicked. And she took off and hasn’t looked back since. So, there you go, people. All that frustration just so an almost 6-year-old could ride a bike.
Why the heck does that matter so much. Would it matter if she never learned? Is she any less valuable in this life or the life to come if she can’t balance herself on 2 wheels? Why would I push her beyond what she was comfortable with, if it really wasn’t of eternal value? Well…I will tell you since you asked:) I pushed her so hard because I, her own mother, never learned to ride a bike. I essentially helped teach her but never actually knew how myself. Isn’t that strange? I started out learning when I was her age. I even got a new bike! Then through a series of health issues as a child, the learning process got derailed and I found myself as and 8,9,10 year old who couldn’t ride and didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the neighborhood kids while I tried to learn. So in my little head, I resolved to always have an excuse when people were going to ride bikes. And you know what? It always worked. And I never learned. The old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” really does have deep truth to it. The older we get, the less we can throw caution to the wind and take on new adventures. And the older I got, I realized that I would rather not participate than to go through the pain of the process of learning. Because let’s just acknowledge that learning new things can be painful. So, last week I wrestled and struggled with my girl til my patience (and my poor heart) could hardly take it because I KNEW, I just knew, that it would not get easier for her the longer she waited. And when she took off that first time by herself, I literally sat in the road in a puddle of tears because she did what I never was brave enough to do. She exceeded her mama’s skills and abilities and I could not have been more proud. I was beaming and still am every time she hops on that bike.
Funny how we sooooo want our kids to surpass us. We may not want to do certain things ourselves, but by golly, we will beg the Lord on our faces to do enormous things in those little lives who, in reality, are just little people with real sin problems like their parents. In my puddle in the middle of the road that day, the Lord almost audibly said to me, “Do you see her soaring in freedom?? That is what I want from YOU as my daughter, Mysti!! The way you see her? What you desire from her? That, and much more are what I desire from YOU no matter how old you are. If she is going to see a life of abundant and courageous living, then let her see it clearly in YOU. Don’t just want it for your daughter, WANT it for YOU! My enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy you…But I CAME to bring you life to the fullest, abundant life, life meant to be fully LIVED.”
At 35 years old, I probably won’t learn to ride a bike, and I truly do not think the Lord cares. But I do know that He cares deeply and passionately about me letting Him do new things in me. New things that push me and stretch me. New things that might require a painful learning process, but in the end, allow abundant living because I TRUSTED Him to teach and refine me. I will be a work in process until Jesus calls me home and He might as well call me home now if I live in constant safety and refuse to ever do anything in pure faith that might scare me to death. Until we step out in pure faith, scared to death, and feel His arms pick us back up, brush us off and steady our hearts, we will never, ever, never, ever know how perfectly trustworthy He is. It is the ONLY way to learn that fact.
In a very convicting sermon that is worthy of reading, William Carey once said, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” This sermon came from the heart of Isaiah 54 which communicates this message loud and clear to the people of Israel so lets hear it today.
“Clear lots of land for your tents! Spread out! Think big! You are going to need lots of room…. Don’t be afraid- You are not going to be embarrassed. Don’t hold back! You are not going to come up short. I left you alone but only for a moment. Now with enormous compassion I am bringing you back… It’s with lasting love that I’m tenderly caring for you.”(Isaiah 54 excerpts from The Message)
And also from Isaiah 43, “Forget whats happened before. Don’t keep going over the past. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?”
Today, lets let our Heavenly Father BE OUR FATHER. Let’s expect Him to do great things in US, (not just our children) and in an expression of trust in Him, let’s attempt great things for Him!!