Learning to Ride

“I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.” “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” Proverbs 4:11; Philippians 4:9; 1 Timothy 4:15; 2 Timothy 1:5 

I rode my bike this cool morning, pumping legs up, down, up, down, slicing thin and fast through filtered light and bird song. I thought back to decades ago when my father helped me onto a new bike, no training wheels, gave a gentle push, and I rode four houses down to the end of our dead-end street, then fell when I tried to turn. I loved the euphoria of balance and moving air and gliding smoothly along the road, but needed to learn how to manage gravel and speed and changing direction. All soon became second nature.

Isn’t this like our journey of faith, with our heavenly Father, upon the gift of salvation, giving gentle nudges in the right direction and letting us learn how to maneuver life with Him? He equips us with everything needed- a new heart and the indwelling Spirit- and we learn to set a course, to move ahead and balance, to navigate difficulties. We learn from riding in a pack, drawing on the strength of fellowship and the experience and rhythm of those who have gone before, and we also learn how to listen singularly to God’s clear voice when we strive alone, completely dependent on Him.

Albemarle Estate entrance road, Charlottesville

The longer we travel in the Christian life, the greater our confidence in our unchanging God grows, and the more this ability to ride becomes ingrained. Sometimes struggling against strong headwinds, sometimes exhilarated by joy, we now by habit steadily pedal in the unchanging strength of God Who leads the way.

But there is danger in a learned practice that becomes rote. We must beware the too-easy cadence that lulls us to spiritual sleep, the pleasant distractions that blind us to hazards, the windy passions that veer us off-course. We must be wary of auto-pilot: of work without zeal, words without sincerity, service without heart, worship with no true honor of the Worthy One. Are there areas where I am going through the motions, or have ceased to move at all? Have I gotten in a rut, afraid to venture out of my comfort with a skill long-honed but lying dormant? Is there another I should be riding alongside for mutual encouragement, to help navigate the way and resist the wind?

Lord, help me continue stable and steadfast in faith, and watchful and thankful in prayer. May I be diligent to ride through life as You have called and taught me to do, practicing love, virtue, knowledge, self-control, godliness, for the sake of Your glory and excellence. (Colossians 1:23; 4:2; 2 Peter 1:3-10)

 

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