Ditching the Training Wheels

"All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained."
Philippians 3:15-16 (NIV)

I couldn't remember a time when I was more excited in my eight years of living. I had received my purple bike with its flower covered banana seat and its high-winged handle bars with the daisy basket on the front a few months earlier. I loved to run to the garage after school and ride my bike up and down the street in front of our house. I would challenge myself to go faster and faster each time. I loved to feel the wind in my hair and face and to imagine I could out pedal anyone who raced me.

But today, something monumental was going to happen. I was going to get...my training wheels off!

My best friend lived about a quarter mile down my street. To my eight-year-old perspective, riding that distance was like riding to the next state - a real accomplishment. I told my dad I could do it all by myself. He asked me if I was sure.

"Daddy, I am positive! I can do it!"

I made it to Leslie's house, but to my crushing disappointment, she wasn't home to share in my excitement. As I turned around in her driveway to go back home, I eyed the hill leading down to the entrance of our subdivision.

I am sure I can make it. And I'll be able to tell Daddy what I did! He'll be so proud of me!

I felt a slight pull of fear at the size of the hill, but quickly brushed it aside. My lack of experience in riding didn't deter me for more than a few seconds. I turned my flower power banana bike toward the downward slope and felt the exhilaration of the flutter in my stomach at the speed I was experiencing.

And before I knew it...my chin and the pavement met with a tremendous crash.

Dazed and bleeding, I lay there for a moment trying to figure out what had happened. And then the sobs came fast and furious as I realized my daddy was far away. He knew nothing of what had happened to me.

Too afraid to climb back on my bike, I pushed it home the quarter mile, crying all the way. As I pushed, I told myself I would never get on again. I was going to put my bike in the garage and leave it in the corner for good. After reconsidering that drastic scenario, I thought that if I was ever foolish enough to ride my bike again, I would definitely need to have those training wheels put back on.

My parents were hosting company as I walked into the living room, sobbing anew because I wanted the comfort of their arms and the horror toward my pain to register in their eyes as they saw me. I was not disappointed. All the adults came rushing over to me and it was decided a trip to the ER was in order to close the wound on my chin.

Eight stitches were the result.

Over the next few days, I had to pass my flower power banana seat bike everyday as it sat in the garage. Gradually, I worked up my courage to sit on it again. Then I dared to take it out of the garage and down our driveway. Finally, I was riding it on the street. My dad never put my training wheels on again.

What has happened to you and me that we want to put the training wheels back on and forget the thrill of the ride with Jesus? How ridiculous that we have determined to give up over a fall or two. We can't let the wounding of life keep us from the exhilaration of trying something new or reaching a new level of maturity because we fear falling on our faces.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Have we forgotten that we weren't promised a smooth road, but one full of gravel, ditches, and stretches in which we fly off the path unexpectedly with a hard fall? We need to get up, dust ourselves off, get stitched up, and get in the fight again! No more training wheels! We want to be able to say, with the Holy Spirit's power beneath us:

I am sure I can make it. And I'll be able to tell Daddy what I did! He'll be so proud of me!