As we journey through life, we are constantly at risk. Temptations are tugging at us. Yet, if we stop or hesitate matters seem to only get worse, not better. The analogy is clear. If we want to have a good ride in life we must have faith, belief, keep pedaling (applying ourselves to our appointed tasks), and to keep looking forward. It is fatal in riding a bike to look down as to where we are, but instead we must keep looking forward to where we will next be. We can’t influence what is now, but only what lies ahead.
If something defies common logic and everyday experience, we get into matters that involve faith and belief. Faith and belief are somewhat interchangeable words, but we’ll take the position that God gives us, as we are created, a capacity as humans to have faith. Belief is more of an action or attitude on our part, where we cause our inner beings to accept what our faith tells us.
When you ride a bike, you have faith that the bike will work — that is you’ve seen others ride a bike and they remain upright. Bikes seem to work. We see that everyday as we go about our business. Belief is more of a personal thing, as when we ride a bike it is a whole lot more than just observing others. The thrill of riding a bike builds within us our belief. As you gain experience and become comfortable on your journey, be it bike riding or in life itself, your faith will eventually turn into belief. You will soon acquire a positive attitude. Action and a positive attitude keep you moving forward, and keep you upright. The gutters, curbs, tree stumps, and sewage drain covers aren’t any real concern so long as you have faith, belief, keep pedaling, and keep looking ahead.
A colleague, Dr. John Chato, at the University of Illinois told the story of his mother living in Hungary prior to WW II. According to John, his mother learned to ride a bike at age 40, and he also commented that the bike — when ridden by his mother — had a magnetic attraction to bushes and obstacles along the bike path. It was inevitable that as she would ride her bike on some trail and come along near a bush, she would invariably end up crashing into the bush. It is clear to us that she focused her eyes and mind on the bush, and not on the road ahead of her and beyond the bush. By focusing on the bush, her motor reflexes, driven by fear, subconsciously caused her arms to turn away from the bush. The problem is that the act of turning away, even subconsciously, caused her steering action to shift the bike’s ground contact point away, and with the result that the bike was now leaning towards the bush. Bikes tend to go in the direction of lean, because this is the only way to restore balance. When a bush or other hazard in life menaces you, the best approach is to look beyond, and to set up actions to keep you on that course. Obviously, if the bush has wheels like a dangerous car that has pulled out in front of you, certain actions are appropriate – but steering initially away is never the appropriate action.
We’ve hunted in Scripture and even biblical concordances for the word “bicycle,” but somehow the biblical translators left that particular word out — the very common word “bicycle.” One scripture passage we have found is in Deuteronomy 32:11. For completeness, we’ll look at Deuteronomy 32, verses 10 and 11.
In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
He guarded him as the apple of his eye,
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest
And hovers over its young,
That spreads its wings to catch them
And carries them on its pinions.
Other translations suggest that the eagle stirs the nest, and in the process the young eaglets fall from the nest. The adult eagle causes its young to fall from the nest, and yet carefully watches over them. If the young don’t learn to fly in the process of falling, the adult eagle then swoops down and “carries them on the back of eagle’s wings.”
If you are ever going to teach a child to ride a bike, you must push the child off and learn to let go. Of course, there is a skill required in knowing when to swoop down and to catch the faltering child — on the back of eagle’s wings. In our adapted bike camps we’ve taught hundreds of children so our swooping skills and timing are refined. If you are going to be forever holding onto the child or the bike, that child will be denied the opportunity to learn on their own — to acquire wings of their own.