I’ve been spending the last couple weeks chasing my daughter up and down the sidewalk as I hang on to the back of her bicycle. She’s finally decided she’s ready to take off the training wheels and work toward getting her “big girl” bike. Like her mother, my oldest has to make up her mind that she can do something before she’s actually willing to try it. Now that she’s ready we’re trying to strike while the iron’s hot.
Chasing a wobbling bike doesn’t give you much time for contemplation, but I did have a thought strike me around about our 100th trip down the sidewalk:
It’s not the riding. It’s the learning.
I’ll be honest—I don’t really consider bike riding to be on the list of essential abilities for successful adulthood. I mean, it’s fun. It’s good exercise for kids and opens up a measure of freedom and responsibility for them. But as an adult, I don’t spend that much time on a bike. We aren’t blessed by nice bike trails within easy access of our home. While I can hitch up the trailer to my bike, I usually find it easier to just walk the little ones to the park.
I am however, deeply interested in her learning to ride. This is the thing about learning to ride a bike: no one ever does it the first time. It’s a process of trying and not giving up. It’s about falling and learning that you can get back up—and that the world isn’t going to end if you get a scraped knee in the process. It’s that thrill of success when you get it just for a minute that makes you keep trying until it finally clicks, and it’s the triumphant feel of flying when you finally take off on your own for the first time. Perseverance. Courage. Resilience. Triumph. These are things I desperately want her to know.
I wonder if perhaps God has the same goals for us at times, if perhaps he opens the doors to experiences that are opportunities for deeper learning. Maybe it’s not so much about the mission trip as it is about learning divine dependence. Maybe sometimes the sermon is less important than the experience of hearing God’s voice as we seek him, and maybe the prayer is more important than the challenge that drives us to our knees. Sometimes God brings us to the ends of ourselves so that we can have more of him. The greatest heroes of faith also had the greatest failures, but somehow the getting up and dusting themselves off and trying again produced the greatest victories.
If that’s you today, hang in there. Press in. Go deep. Find a new level of depending on God, a new way of seeking his face. He’s there, and he’s not letting go. When you finally take off, when you fly, look back. The Father will be smiling. It’s not the riding—it’s the learning.