My daughter spent almost all of her 8-year-old life living in a home without a paved driveway or a neighborhood with a sidewalk.
Bike riding for us was a spurious affair. About once a year, everything aligned perfectly.
The weather was cool, but not cold, and definitely not hot or rainy or snowy or even too windy.
The calendar was clear. We did not have rehearsal, school, camps, dance, karate, sports, church, a birthday party, or some other activity.
That was the one day a year I would load up the minivan with all of our children and then, after they were all buckled in, pack that minivan with every single one of their bicycles and helmets. We would then drive to a school parking lot and “practice biking.”
Loading all those bicycles up so we could drive somewhere to practice, though, wasn’t really fun. For any of us. The kids tried for a little bit, but gave up and we all went back home again so we could move along to other ways to spend our time.
But now, “the time has come.” We live in a neighborhood. Not only that, we live on a cul de sac with a sloped and paved driveway in a neighborhood.
This is the ideal place.
Eight years into life, though, is enough time to build up some fears about going too fast and falling, about scuffing up knees and elbows and maybe not always landing in the grass.
It’s enough time to build up some immunity to mom’s pep talks about being courageous and persevering in the face of adversity.
So, thus far, our attempts at mastering this whole deal without training wheels have involved more injury than success.
It is slow going and it is painful going and it is discouraging going.
What I want is for my daughter to decide in her deep-down heart of hearts that this is worth it, that she’s going to do whatever it takes to master this elusive skill, that she’s willing to get back on that bike 50 times if that’s what’s needed.
And if she falls 51 times, then she’d get back on there 52.
So far, though, I think she hasn’t decided this is worth doing. She wants all the fun of bike riding to her friend’s house a few doors down without any of the actual learning.
I get that. There are some ways that my heart is right there with her.
God says to brave it out and tough it out. Put on those sneakers and that helmet and get on out there where it’s rough and hard and we might fail.
Yeah, falling and failing is part of it. That may be what we fear the most, but God doesn’t . He knows it’s part of the learning and the growing and without it, we’re just living what’s easy instead of what takes faith.
And, faith is what it takes to please God. That’s what blesses His heart. That’s what makes Him pump His fist with joy when He sees us down here.
Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6)
So, it’s hard. Yes. It is.
God calls us to do hard things, though, EVEN impossible things maybe, not because He wants to see us fail, but so that He can succeed.
in 1 Kings 12, King Jeroboam decided to take the easy way out. He wanted whatever would earn him brownie points with his people even if it meant disobeying God.
So, even though God said the nation of Israel needed to worship in one place only, Jerusalem, Jeroboam decided this was too hard a burden. He set up idols and places of worship in Dan and Bethel so people wouldn’t have to travel as far or work as hard to get there.
Priscilla Shirer says this:
“If left to ourselves, we will always choose “Dan” and “Bethel” over the more cumbersome journey to Jerusalem” (Discerning the Voice of God p. 139).
Do we want “Dan” and “Bethel?” Do we want the pain-free and the easy even if that’s not where God is?
Or do we want God’s best, His will and His plans?
What I want is for my daughter to set her heart on overcoming so she holds out for Jerusalem.
Maybe that’s what God desires for us also, to determine in advance that we’re going to obey. Period. We’re going to follow Him. Period. We’re going to pour ourselves out for Him. Period. We’re going to worship Him. Period.
Even if it means we have to pass right by Dan and Bethel and trek all that way to Jerusalem.
Even if it means some skinned knees and bruised egos as we stumble our way along all because being with Him is the greatest desire in our deep-down hearts.