Bicycle Lessons

“Are you angry with God?” The question was asked of us as Jim and I endured quite a trying summer that included chemotherapy, open-heart surgery, cancer surgery, and water damage to our basement after torrential rains. 

God is beyond our understanding. I can’t even begin to explain God, or how God “works”, or what God’s reasoning is for the way life happens. This is the sacred mystery of our faith, of our trust in the One who loves us- who loves us way beyond our worldly comprehension. But when I consider God, I like to think of bicycle lessons. 

I’m thankful that my parents gave me a bicycle when I was young- and coached me as I learned to ride it! Oh, the “adventures” I had. Bicycle riding gave me a new sense of freedom and a bit of independence. I rode my bike to a summer recreation program, to the library, and to visit friends. I cruised the neighborhood sidewalks, pulling fearless friends wearing roller skates behind me. I also learned important lessons: keeping my balance, watching for cars and hazards in the road, leaning with the bike for turns, and braking gently on downhill slopes. I remember the exhilaration of riding with “no hands” on the handlebars, the feel of the wind on my face when I pedaled as fast as I could, the joy of being momentarily airborne over bumps on my route.  

When I became a parent, I realized the sense of anxiety and surrender my parents felt when they taught me to ride my bike. As much as I wanted my children to know the joy, freedom and independence of cycling… I knew there would be falls and injuries and tears. Parents KNOW what can happen. We hold our breath as our precious child wobbles down the road, wondering when the fall will occur and what injuries there will be. We hope and pray that our child will always be careful, will make wise decisions and be vigilant, and will not encounter any trouble on the way. But we must surrender that responsibility to them as they ride away. 

I like to think of God as a loving parent who sets us free to learn to travel this journey of life, much like a bicycle ride that is filled with moments of exhilaration but also times of pain. God provides the teaching and the coaching. We keep improving in our “life-cycling” skills- NOT because God is pushing us off our bikes to teach us lessons- but because God is allowing us to keep navigating and asking for help as we go. We can always turn to God for instruction and direction. And when we do stumble or fall, God is lovingly there to heal and comfort us. 

So every day, I am thanking God for this gift of life, this bicycle ride we are journeying together. I have felt the joy of times when life is smooth and easily navigated. I have felt the comfort of God’s love and healing when life is a series of tumbles and injuries. I have treasured the beautiful scenery along my route. I have been forever blessed by wonderful companions who have joined me on the way. Yes, the ride has been difficult and painful at times, but oh, I have had such joy-filled, delightful moments with precious loved ones!  

Certainly I hope that my life, this bicycle journey, will be long and abundant; filled with many beautiful sights, times with wonderful loved ones and friends, and new experiences to enjoy. But I also gratefully know that, should I hit a sudden bump in the road, God will be there to pick me up and carry me home. And I will be so very blessed and thankful that I even had one moment of the sheer joy of the wind on my face, of being airborne and free, on this amazing ride we call life.

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