Bicycle balance

There’s that feeling of when the bike could fall left or fall right.  I start to feel like I might fall to the right, and I pull hard to try to get it back on balance, and I crash.

Later, I learn to steer more gently.  It’s still struggle.  The bike still swerves right or swerves left.  I still feel like I could lose balance and topple over, but I’m getting more confident.

And then I get really good.  I mean, I can ride my bike up and down the parking lot.  So I wave in pride, and the handlebars swerve and I topple to the blacktop.

And then I get humbler.  Ride more like a learner than a teacher.  Start trying for uphill.  The hope is for the downhill.  I press on the pedals, and that’s all easy on the flat top.  But then I start the climb and I start pushing harder on those pedals.  But it’s still not too bad.  I can push through it.  But this hill seems to be getting taller and taller.  It is a hot day and I am hot.  The sun is melting my tires and growing the hill.  I am shoving the pedals down now, and my legs tremble.  I have to try to stand up.  I stand and I push and push and I get to that point when I know I am not going to make it, and the bike is tottering like stilts in gator water, and I cannot steady it.  I fall off, and I am wearing my helmet, but this time I get a scar on my knee that lasts and even now I still have it.

Over time, I can ride my bike through the neighborhood.  (I can even learn to make it up that hill.  I think.)  I ride farther.  I no longer worry all the time about the bike tipping me over on my head like a pebble in an upside-down Coke bottle.  But every once in a while, when I think about what I’m doing–balancing my weight on two thin wheels–I often start to tilt.

I still have a surprising spill at least once.  My helmet cracks that pavement and absorbs the first roar of shock for me and I don’t even wind up with a scratch on my noggin.

I can look around now, feel the breeze swim over me, feel the satisfaction of taking myself somewhere.

If I stay in my neighborhood, the challenge is pretty much over.  Sure, there can be a surprise here and there–but it’s not likely.

But if I go outside of what I’ve already learned, if I keep going, I find hills against which I’ve not been tested[1] . . slopes so exciting and so easy I can race out of control and flip my bike over going down them . . curves in the road tighter than I’ve ever turned.  As long as I keep biking, the adventure’s not over.  The adventure’s never over.  As long as I keep biking.

I forgot what it was like to bike until a few days ago when I rode a rented bike in Florida for the first time in years.  The memories came back to me as I biked and as I watched a new biker learning how to ride.  The funny thing about biking is, you never really learn it.  You can always go steeper, deeper, longer, curvier, and on a new kind of terrain.  You can always find something you can’t yet do, but you might be able to if you keep holding tight to those handlebars, keep pedaling with those sneakered feet, keep wearing that helmet.

I realize now how biking is a 6-year-old’s prep for what a relationship will be like when you find your knight in shining armor (or, for you guys out there, your fair maiden).

I’m almost 30, and I’m in my first long-term relationship.  My first!

There are times I feel that uneasy wobble I felt as a kid riding her first bike without training wheels.  There are times I feel like I’m gonna crash.  There are times I feel like I’ve got it: I’m an expert and I’m ready to write seven marriage books about it, I’ve just gotta wait until I get married.  And always–before I get to sign my autograph on my imaginary marriage book for a long line of imaginary, eager women in an imaginary, elite bookstore– I nosedive to the black top and only my helmet saves me . . and I see I didn’t have the whole in-a-relationship ride so balanced as I thought.

A relationship is one of those things, that, if you look at it, it seems like a miracle that it could ever work, like two thin wheels holding your whole weight up as you soar up and down hills.  And whenever I find I can start to feel the breeze and start to see the sights, I always find there’s something a bit harder up ahead.

That’s just exactly how it is.  It’s challenging.  It’s an adventure.  It’s . . learning.  Not how to pedal a two-wheeler.  How to love a soulmate.

And there’s this . . excitement.  This . . zeal.  And this . . fear.  This . . uncertainty.  At times, this dread of the next hill.  At times, this overwhelming joy and fright that the next valley is gonna cause your wheels to go airborne and you to go sprawling.  At times, this weariness that there is always that next hill.  And at times, this thrill that there is always that next hill.

There’s this . . work.  This work that is this rush of scary pedaling and wobbly lurching and humiliating falling.  This work that is this rush of delight for the road ahead and adrenaline-filled breathing for the challenge and foot-spinning love for the pedals.  This work that is this rush.

I couldn’t do it without my helmet.  If I didn’t have Jesus to absorb the first shock wave of every fall, I wouldn’t even want to ride my bike.  I’d be content to roll my bike along as I walked beside.  But I do have Jesus who promises me that He won’t let any fall happen to me unless He can use it to help me bike better.  I might skin my knee–okay, I will skin my knee–but I won’t bust my head open.  He is my helmet.

I’ve never gotten to go on this ride before.

I love this ride.

Thank You, Jesus, for this ride.

Thank You for not giving up on this girl even way after the years where she shouldn’t be needing training wheels, and teaching her how to ride in the winds of Your grace . . alongside a soul mate who’s learning, too (but a lot better at it).

To Ben.  I love you, my biking buddy.  I love that you wear your helmet and remind me that I have one, too, and that it will be okay.

The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. (Proverbs 24:16a, NLT)

Put on salvation as your helmet (Ephesians 6:17a, NLT)

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

(Jesus’ promise to those who receive His salvation, Matthew 28:20b, NLT)

__________________________________________________

[1] An idea from something Gandalf says in the first LOTR movie about facing enemies against which he has never been tested.

Advertisements
Published in: on March 17, 2013 at 9:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Day 17: The voice for those imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their faith

Never, ever in Christianity are we called to be isolated to care groups of our own city or country.  We are absolutely, unequivocally, indisputably enjoined by God’s Word to help believers everywhere.  There is no such thing as nationalities of Christians.  We are all one people.  We will all spend forever in Heaven together.  And we are all supposed to help each other now, every one of us.

Who will give voice for the unheard voices of those locked away behind bars for their faith?

The ACLJ will.

The ACLJ, American Center for Law and Justice, is a worldwide mission that fights for freedom and liberty as advocated in

  • God’s Word
  • The U.S. Constitution
  • European Union law and human rights law

The ACLJ provides free legal help and voice around the world.  Through the grace of God, their work and the work of other Christian leaders freed Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from an Iranian death sentence for his faith and also freed him from further imprisonment.  Pastor Nadarkhani served over 1,000 days in prison, separated from his wife and two sons, before he was freed.

SaveSaeedProfile

This facebook profile picture download is an example of why ACLJ works so well.  The ACLJ uses God’s wisdom to capture the attention of Christians worldwide through wise use of social media, like facebook banners and profile pictures, twitter wallpaper, youtube videos, their extensive website, radio broadcasts, etc.  You can download for Saeed’s campaign here.  Youtube videos are available here.

ACLJ’s work is wise and effective.  Through legal representation, eye witness testimonies, appeal to the European Union and U.S. Congress, radio broadcasting, twitter & facebook accounts, emails, and petitions ACLJ gathers advocates around the world to draw a watchful eye on atrocious human rights violations that might otherwise be witnessed only by the victims and their close network of family and friends, and, always, Jesus Christ.

For example, Christians in North Korea, Egypt, and Iran have to fear imprisonment and death because their governments refuse religious freedom and lord political abuse over these religious minorities.  These Christians are persecuted because they represent a religious minority, and yet how often have you heard about the intolerance against them?  We are in desperate need of advocates for our brothers and sisters in other countries who have little to no rights or ability to stand up for themselves.

Right now, Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen, is in an Iranian prison and has been beaten, tortured, and threatened to be murdered for his faith.  He was arrested while he was building orphanages in Iran.  He was sentenced to 8 years in one of the worst prisons in Iran because he shared his faith with Iranians.

You can sign a petition to help draw international attention to Saeed’s case.  The ACLJ is calling for the immediate release of Saeed, and lobbying to make this happen.  While many petitions seems to have no use or purpose, the ACLJ uses its petitions to place international pressure on governments violating human rights, like the government of Iran.

Pastor Youcef was freed because of the grace of Christ, given through international attention to his case.  Pastor Saeed needs the same worldwide public outcry before he is murdered or suffers any more torture in this horrific prison.

The ACLJ isn’t just calling for the release of Pastor Saeed, but for the release of all Christians imprisoned in Iran for their faith, as well as the prohibition of torture and maltreatment of all prisoners in Iran.  The ACLJ stands on the Word of God: that every life everywhere is precious and everyone is made in the image of God and deserves to be treated as such.

You can help the ACLJ by

Credibility of Mission: ACLJ has received an A (highest rating) in their financial accountability from Ministry Watch.  Their latest financial accountability/annual report information can be viewed here.  Only 2% of their funds are spent on administration.  ACLJ is a tax-deductible charity.  To donate, click here.

Today, a verse for Pastor Saeed.

Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes. (Psalm 119:157, NIV)