Running Beside Us
A couple of week ago, I sat down with Tant on the curb and asked him if he was ready to learn to ride a bike. He, again, said he didn’t want to and upon further questioning, he admitted that he was embarrassed that he couldn’t ride even though he is seven years old. Through tears, he assured me that he wasn’t capable and that he was incredibly scared.
Part of the problem was that he is so big for a seven year old. The bikes that are large enough for him do not come with training wheels. If he’s on a bike with training wheels, his knees hit the handlebars and he gets off balance and falls over. So Tant had decided that he would never ride a bike and would just keep on a scooter for the rest of his life.
So we made a deal. I would teach him to ride a bike, without training wheels, the old fashioned way. This required me, a very out-of-shape man, to run along side his bike, holding on to the seat, keeping him upright. It became obvious that the reason he could not stay balanced is that he wasn’t pedaling fast enough; so I had to assure him that if he went faster, I’d keep holding on. You can picture us: him riding faster than he’s ever ridden and me running along side huffing and puffing the way we out-of-shape men do when we are forced to run.
After a while though, I noticed my hand wasn’t holding up the seat anymore. He was really riding, so I let go. But I knew if I stopped running, he’d get scared, stop pedaling, and fall. I knew if he fell at this moment, he’d not get back on the bike again because he was so determined he couldn’t ride a bike. I took a deep breathe and kept on running next to him. He gained more confidence, pedalled harder, and I ran harder to stay right where I was so he wouldn’t know wasn’t holding him up. After a few laps, I started to fall behind just a little bit until I knew he had noticed and then started praising him for conquering his fears, for accomplishing the impossible, for learning to ride his bike.
God does this for His children also. When we have a fear to overcome, or a hard task in our future, or when we are facing the impossible, God reassures us that He is capable of keeping us safe. He tell us that He will be with us. Like Jesus’ words after He gave the apostles the Great Commission, “And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28.20). We are assured in Hebrews of God’s promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13.5). God tells us that He will hold on to our seat and not let us fall. All we have to do is trust Him and pedal our feet.
This means God also stays with us, even when He’s not holding on. He runs beside us, so we will continue to have faith in Him and depend on Him. He does not leave us out, exposed to danger. He faces the danger with us. This is why David could say that most popular psalm, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23.4). There is no fear of danger, death, dismemberment, or destruction when God is with us. He keeps us safe and secure.
So go face life! Fear nothing! Fight battles and win wars. Flee temptations and face the devil. Share God’s comfort and grace with others. For God is with us, running beside us, and He will stay with us until our ride is done.