In view of our need to get some exercise beyond wrestling matches with the vacuum cleaner during this season of isolation, my husband and I decided to venture out on our bikes. For various reasons, I had not actually ridden any bicycle (apart from a very tedious stationary bike) for twenty years. Although I feigned interest, I was secretly hoping that we would end up postponing this outing, as I lacked confidence in my balance of late (largely due to multiple successful but traumatic eye surgeries).
Despite the fact that I had learned to ride a bike without training wheels when I was five, the challenge seemed daunting. After all, after six decades of life, one’s perspective changes! Moreover, the surfaces to be navigated near our house are often irregular and far from level. As my husband aired up the tires, I dubiously inspected the dusty gear shifts on the ancient handlebars. Tremulously, I mounted the bike and wondered if I would make it around the block.
However, when I began to pedal (quite vigorously, due to my fear of tumbling to one side!), the old thrill returned! As my husband sped on ahead of me, I shifted the gears quite easily and streaked on in his wake. Suddenly, I was in a different world — remembering the freedom I had felt as a young person riding a bike around my neighborhood, to classes at college, and even as an adult around Lake Dillon in the Rocky Mountains. I stopped wondering whether or we would ride back home via the same route. Instead, I meditated on what the end goal of this test ride might be and contemplated what adventures might lie before me.
Exhilarated, I nearly forgot myself as the bike lurched with a sudden change in pavement. Forced to look down just beyond the front wheel, I noticed gaping cracks in the sidewalk and changes in the level of its surface. A squirrel unexpectedly darted in front of the bike and barely avoided certain death. With a fresh resolve to pay more attention to my immediate surroundings, I purposed to abandon my reveries.
That deliberate focus on the immediate challenge, however, robbed me of any sense of purpose. Even as my husband continued to pedal swiftly on, I was distracted by what I would or would not encounter on the ground directly ahead of me — so much so, that I lost him and didn’t know what direction he had taken. (Of course, it turned out he waited for me at a crossroads and had been keeping an eye on me the entire time!)
The situation reminded me of two specific lessons:
When our children were young, we enjoyed a book entitled Two Wheels for Grover, a story of Grover’s hesitation (despite the encouragement of others) about learning to ride a bike and how he conquered his fears. I could certainly relate! The fact was, the lessons learned in the past about overcoming challenges are available to me still, and I certainly felt confidence and strength return once I dared to confront the task!
Secondly, I love the truth about God being the God of the first and the last, the Lord of the “already” (the things that have already been established in the past) and the “not yet” (those things He has yet to fulfill). What a glorious juxtaposition of what He has completed and what He has yet to complete (yet regards as completed)! His fulfillment of His plans and purposes is in process based on what Jesus did at the Cross. Healing, freedom, and deliverance from earthly sorrows and pain are provided for by the Cross and Resurrection, but some aspects of that Kingdom-appointed fullness have yet to be manifested this side of Heaven.
Somehow this truth connected to the bike ride for me! I dared not turn to focus on what I left behind me, as I would surely lose my balance and topple over. When I focused inordinately intensely on where I was headed, I risked overlooking hazards in my immediate path. When I was absorbed in looking directly down in front of the bicycle, I did not appreciate the ride and failed to gain the greater perspective of the journey.
Suddenly, it occurred to me that, if God is the Lord of the “already” and the “not yet,” He must also be Lord of the “in between,” the journey from where we have already been to where we are headed. HE is the stability of my times, and HE is able to sustain me, alert me, and carry me to new places. He is my compass and strength as I travel on these heretofore-unknown roads.
As we read in Isaiah 33:6, “He will be your constant source of stability in changing times,
and out of his abundant love he gives you the riches of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. Yes, the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure! Yes, the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure! (The Passion Translation)
Father, thank You that, “You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me…Wherever I go, your hand will guide me; your strength will empower me. It’s impossible to disappear from you or to ask the darkness to hide me, for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night. There is no such thing as darkness with you. The night, to you, is as bright as the day; there’s no difference between the two.” Psalm 139: 4b-5, 10-12