Taking off the training wheels

Our kids are great bicycle riders. For all 3 of them, we took the training wheels off right about their 4th birthday.

For our youngest, that was this week.

The face of independence. 

As a parent, there is something exhilarating about letting go for the first time, and watching your offspring wobble down the sidewalk. You stay close, in order to give yourself a chance at catching them if – when – they fall.

But it doesn’t take long. It doesn’t take long until they don’t want you to hover, and can confidently ride on their own.

After that, it’s a matter of where their head is at.

We’ve learned as parents that when you’re 4, your bike tends to follow wherever your head is looking. And 4-year-olds are easily distracted.

For instance, if  he looks back to see who’s following, he’ll veer toward the shoulder whichever direction he’s looking. If he sees something interesting to the right, he’ll drift to the right. 

We’re not so different. Where our eyes are turned, our bodies tend to follow. That’s why we need to be careful where we’re looking. 

If we look back too much in regret, it’s hard to maintain a straight line forward. 

If we are distracted by the cares and concerns around us, it’s hard not to drift toward them. 

If we look down at our feet, we aren’t being very vigilant about potential trouble at a distance. 

And if we look out too far, always waiting for the next thing and never focusing on the current thing, we miss something, also. 

How do we get better at this? Is there a manual for bike-riding? Well, probably. But that’s not how we do it. 

We get better at riding a bike by riding a bike. Just like we get better at following Jesus by following Jesus.

If we crash, we crash. But you know what’s more embarrassing than crashing? An adult who rides his bike with the training wheels on.

I see a lot of followers of Jesus who never take off the training wheels.  

They’re missing the experience. I can’t explain to you the adventure of living life as a follower of Jesus. You just have to try it. 

I can’t tell you whether you have it in you to pray with someone. I can’t tell you whether you have it in you to visit them in the hospital or nursing home or prison. I can’t tell you whether you have it in you to share your faith and risk rejection. You’ll only know when you do it. 

I love the picture of God the Father walking behind us, holding us steady as we’re just starting out.

And I love the joy on His face as He lets go. 

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