[A sneak peek into my book. From the chapter "Love Takes Risks"]
Do you remember the first time you rode a two wheel bike? The day when training wheels became a thing of the past? Those things only babies used? I can recall my big girl bike day very well! My training wheels had been removed just days before and I was riding my bike with the assistance of anyone I could bribe into jogging beside me. I guess you can say now I had human training wheels. I still couldn’t ride a bike without someone running alongside, hands gripped to my banana seat, as I’d wobble en route for the nearest parked car. Nonetheless, those plastic, crooked rusty old wheels were off and I was ready for the next step…or so I thought!
It started out a scrape and scab free morning. All I wanted was to jump on my bike, hoping this would be the day I would ride all on my own. After several not so subtle manipulating hints I finally convinced a family friend it was time for my lesson and with that we headed out for the drama.
Off we were back and forth on a little dirt road. Even with him holding on, as I peddled my little heart out, I found it difficult to stay balanced. But just knowing he was there provided all the confidence I needed. So off I would go and he would shout out, “Good job Tam!” and I’d peddle even faster and my smile would get wider. In no time at all I felt comfortable enough to start talking to my human set of training wheels as I rode…all at the same time…thinking to myself, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about – this is so easy!” My confidence was building as I became certain of myself and my riding abilities.
Then suddenly in the middle of my spastic chatter he failed to answer one of my questions. So I asked him again and once more, no response. So, yes I did, I turned my head around to ask him one more time and he was gone! He was standing at least 100 feet behind with a big smile on his face yelling, “You’re doing it Tam, You’re doing it!” I’m doing it? I’m doing what? Wait, you’re back there and I’m…OH MY GOSH I’M DOING IT!!! The coolness and assurance I had felt just seconds earlier quickly turned into colossal fear! Then the predictable happened. As I turned back around to see just where I was headed I found myself heading directly south right onto the gravel road! It was the longest fall of my life and I fought all the way down until I was weaved in and out like a pretzel in my bike frame. I was scraped from head to toe, well as much scraping as a 3 mph fall can get you…either way it hurt! My deserter came running as I screamed at him, “Why did you let go?!!” He asked in return, “Why did you look back?”
Well here I am 30’ish years later and not much has changed. Yes, the parallels are jumping off the page! My friend wasn’t at fault for letting go of my bike, he knew I was ready. I fell because I took my eyes off the goal and became “ascared”. I can’t even begin counting the times I have looked back and taken my focus off what lies ahead. In many ways I am still that little girl on a bike. Sometimes I find myself looking behind when I’m in doubt hoping to find something familiar and common because I’m too afraid of the unknown. And many times, I fall flat on my face.
Lately I’ve been meditating on God’s Omnipresence. The reality of Him existing everywhere at the same time is a lot to grasp. But because I am a believer in His word I believe everything about Him as well. There are times still when it seems He has stepped out of the room and I’m left on my own. But it only feels that way. Certainly He can’t be away from me or out of my presence being omnipresent and all.
So what is it that causes me to feel such a gap or absence? For myself it is almost always a faith issue. What might begin as a strong bring it on world expedition can quickly become a personal setback at the first glimpse of disorder. And no feeling at that point seems to be excused from how I might respond to the hurdles. That’s where my struggle begins. I allow my feelings to dictate my response to adversity. When instead I should be leaning on God’s word, His truths and the knowledge He has put in my heart and mind to guide me; not the sting of fear in that moment.
When my friend let go of my bike he knew I could ride on my own. Before that second he’d held on very tight and picked me up each time I became one with the ground. He knew precisely when I was ready to ride off by myself. Even though he let go – he was also still there. He wasn’t physically attached to my banana seat any longer but when I turned around I still saw him – I wasn’t out of his sight. He stood back and watched me graduate to the next stage. Of course when it all came crashing down he was there on the spot tending to my self inflicted wounds and helping to get me back on that bike.
I don’t know about you but I still have yet to master balancing life on or off a bike. But the Master who holds everything in balance, including me, knows exactly what He’s doing! I must trust that when He let’s go it’s because He knows I’m ready. I must also believe that just because He let’s go does not mean He has left me alone, even if it feels that way. Fear and little faith can play vicious mind games. But they can never change the living God.
I think of Peter when he walked on the water toward Jesus. The second he saw the waves and felt the strong winds he became terrified and began to sink. He shouted, Save me, Lord!” Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him and then said to Peter, “You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?” Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began focusing on the storm raging around him and down he went. Just like my solo bike ride…I took my eyes off the goal when I feared my surroundings had changed and down I went also!
Today it is essential that I believe my Lord is always – in His Omnipresence – right here, right now. When confronting doubting Thomas – Jesus said, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” Whether I see Him with my eyes or not does not change the fact that He is who He says He is! He is an all knowing, ever present, loving God who knows precisely what He’s doing…Jeremiah 29-11-14a, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. That is a promise worth believing in!