In riding a bike, or for that matter, even when driving a car, the driver/rider does not look down staring continually at their feet on the pedals or even the floor of the car. Instead, the driver/rider needs to remain focused on what is ahead, and not what is down. That is a reason why cars have wind shields, and not holes in the floor for which to be able to view the ground beneath. When we work with children with issues having difficulty riding a bike – acquiring the skill – an all too common trait is that the child is visually focused downward, either staring at their feet, or staring at the front tire of the bike, or staring at the ground under the front tire. In our years of working with hundreds of learning children, we have never had a child learn to ride a bike so long as the child remained visually focused downward.
When a child is about to take that first ride, we try to entice and even to joke with the child to get them to relax, to look forward, and to even think about something else. A commonly used expression on our part is, “In order to ride a bike, you need to do three things – pedal, keep looking forward, and smile.”
Matthew 14: 26 – 31
When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Lord if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
When you are faced with danger and uncertainty, to look down and to doubt is to assure that you will sink. If you want to follow Jesus, or even merely ride a bike, the admonition has to be to look forward and to believe. Looking down is a sucker’s bet and will always result in failure.