The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand. – Psalm 37:23-24
Friday, November 14, 2014
Thrills and Spills
I saw this in my reading this morning and thought it is a comfort and reassurance that I need to hear. The Lord is not the God of Deism who sits the clock in motion and stands back to watch it tick down. Nor is He the God of determinism who has locked down every thought and removed all possible freedom from the cosmos. He is the God of Grace, our loving Father who shows us the way, often step by step, getting us back up on our feet when we stumble. He does not abandon us but heals and restores the fallen. Even if we abandon Him, He waits and works to nudge us back onto the path.
When my oldest granddaughter was little, she had a little pink bicycle with training wheels. I can see her now riding in circles on the deck of the house we had at the time. The house was in town on a cul-de-sac. When the training wheels came off, she would want to ride on that quiet street and make the much larger circle there. I was younger fifteen years ago, and I would run backward ahead of her bicycle just to make sure she was safe and protected at all times. There was a very slight grade where our driveway joined the street, but the circle of the cul-de-sac was flat.
Her house, on the other hand, was on a steep hill and on a corner, though, because it dead-ended only a few houses further on, there was no thru-traffic, and it was very quiet as well. There was a small neighborhood playground just up the hill at the end of another dead-end street. One day, my wife, daughter, granddaughter and I had gone up to the playground, the adults walking and the child on her bicycle. After she had swung and slid for a while, we started back. Now it’s downhill. I jogged easily alongside bicycle as we traversed the relatively flat dead-end, but as we started down the hill to the corner my granddaughter got carried away with her ability to go fast.
As Gimli said of the dwarves in The Two Towers, I am a natural sprinter. I turned it on going down that hill because I could see what was going to happen. I had my hand on the back of the bicycle seat, but the grade was just too steep. There was no way I could brace myself enough to stop us without causing a wreck on the concrete road surface. Even snatching her off the bicycle would have risked me falling on top of her. I had to let her go. She couldn’t make the turn. The little bicycle caught on the curb and flipped her into the grass of a neighbor’s lawn. I had her in my arms almost as soon as she hit, but her nose was bloodied, and she was wailing. Her mother, who is not a natural sprinter, lost her shoes responding.
I’ve never had a bike go down on a concrete roadway, but I know from experience that sliding across asphalt at 50 or 60 miles per hour will take the hide right off. I also know that the steel in the studs on my old green helmet had quite a bit of carbon in it because there were lots of pretty sparks when the studs scraped on the asphalt. I really don’t want to know about my new helmets. As it turned out, hitting the curb and high-siding into soft grass was probably the least painful and least damaging way for a little girl to end her wild ride. Landing on your nose hurts, to be sure, but sod is softer and more forgiving than concrete.
As long as we stay where things are more or less safe, where God can intervene in our circumstances, guard us and keep us on track, we don’t have to risk any spills. Sometimes, though, the thrill of having the reins or the handlebars in our hands and being in control bedazzles us. We get carried away on a slippery slope, and there is inevitably a crash waiting for us at the end.
I know the Lord does His best to protect me. I don’t always understand how things get out of hand or how I get caught up in painful situations. I don’t like suffering and bloody noses, but I can learn from them, and I know “…this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”.