Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Like Riding a Bike


No one has ever jumped on a bicycle for the first time and taken off like a pro. It takes lots of practice. More for some than others but definitely a lot of practice. As I watched Curtis go up and down the driveway with Alex trying to teach her to ride, I began to think about the analogy of comparing life to riding a bicycle. You hear people say it often when referring to something they may not have done in a long time. When asked if they remember how, the response is "its like riding a bike; it just comes back to you." Now, let's compare that to the first time you rode a bike. It didn't just "come" to you. You had to learn the balance and feel of a bike and then learn to pedal and steer at the same time. That's a great feat for a five year old and even some adults. My grandmother never learned to ride a bike so several years ago, my Grandad bought her a 3 wheel bicycle. Although she only rode it a few times, it was the thought that was put into it that counted. Even she knew that to learn as an adult might be more difficult and was not something she was too interested in. Not to mention, who would she find to run down the driveway holding the seat while she pedaled? It wouldn't be Grandaddy with his bad knees and none of the children wanted to be the one responsible if she fell! The point is, she couldn't have done it alone. Nor can a five year old. I suppose that's not completely true. If a person has enough determination, I guess they could learn but it would be so much more difficult. There are so many different ways I could go with this but there's one way that came to mind first. This bicycle analogy can be compared to a Christian's salvation. First, one has to be given the tools to begin. For Alex, it was her new bike. For the nonbeliever, its the Bible. If Alex had not gotten her bike last weekend, it may have been another year or so before she could have learned.
Our church is very involved in giving to foreign missions so that we can spread the knowledge of Jesus around the world. Although I do have some reservations about the program itself, I do not disagree with the premise of needing to get the word out to those that otherwise may never hear it. If a person is never given a bike or in this case the teachings of the Bible, then how will they learn it? That's the first step. The next step is just as important. That's the help of others. Can you imagine how many times Alex would have had to get back on that bike if she had not had her dad's hand on the seat. Even more important was his instruction to her about how to use the machine. Once she begins to ride on her own, I'm sure that she will have some spills and may even require a few bandages before she is riding comfortably without assistance. Still, it would have been so much harder without help and she would have endured more pain and even worse- she may have given up. The same is true with learning to walk with Jesus. Without the teaching and helping hands of others, you may never be walking comfortably without the fear of falling. We have to keep this in mind for both ourselves and for others. If we as Christians fail to mention Jesus to a nonbeliever or give them the Word of God, how will they ever know? Perhaps no one will ever mention it to them. Although you may think it was only a few times that you missed an opportunity or ignored one because of whatever it was going on in your life at the time, think of it this way: You may have prevented that person from spending eternity in Heaven. That sounds so much worse but that's what has happened! We need to take more responsibility for the salvation of others. We need to give them the tools and teachings, and support they will need to learn to walk on their own. We also have to remember that in order to teach others, we need our own support system. That leads me to my belief in church attendance. Don't you realize that this is all one big cycle and that if one step is removed, it creates disruption in the cycle so that it can't operate smoothly or get bigger and better? If you do not get regular spiritual restoration and the support of other Christians, you may begin to forget or slide. Your earthly ways and human nature may slowly take over. If that happens, and you struggle with this in your own life, you are unlikely to take it to others. Also, if you are not attending church, you are not supporting your fellow Christians both emotionally and monetarily. Yes, it does take money and lots of it to operate the Church and its missions. And yes, if you go to church, you are most likely going to be asked to contribute money at some point. Think of it this way. If you are not attending church regularly, you should probably contribute more money because if you are not doing you're part, you should be sponsoring someone else who will! All this does lead to a point and although it may sound more like preaching this subject that discussing it, its all for a very important point that I too need to hear. Christians need to participate more in the salvation of others and take more responsibility for the lost souls of our communities and even our friends. Although there is a best way to present it to others, you can't worry about pride or being offensive when it comes to your friends' salvation. So long as you are doing God's will in a godly manner, the rest will work as it should and He will take over. That doesn't mean a saved soul every time you speak up. It does mean that you have given a person their bike and offered help learning to ride when they are ready. That's the least we can do for others. You also can't give others the best of you of if you aren't giving your best to God first. My own life can be used as an example of this so please don't think that I'm just pointing fingers. I realize my shortcomings and am aware of the things I need to be working on most. I also know that this will be easier with the support of my church family and my Christian friends. Anyone who thinks that they can do this without that support may not be listening to God either. My Grandad used to have one of those tags on his van that said "God is my pilot". That says it all. And last, if this makes you think about yourself and the things that you should be doing different in your life, don't worry: There is some good news ~ its just like riding a bike.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Start of a New Day


Is this a good or bad notion? Depends on how you look at it... your perception. This idea can absolutely be a positive thing or motivation for your life. Unfortunately, some people (myself included) may use this as a crutch for a negative action. The non-believer probably uses this more often but that's just an assumption on my part. To be able to do something negative which may include anything from a white lie to drug abuse and simply think, "tomorrow's the start of a new day". That thought can be very enabling to a person with lack of willpower and strength. You'd like to keep that thought in the back of your head when doing something negative and think that the slate can be miraculously wiped clean so that you can start fresh tomorrow. What is it about the dawn of a new day that makes us think it will go away and all will be forgotten? Its simply not true. The damage that is done today will see its consequence tomorrow and may not be forgotten. We are always responsible for our actions and their outcome. I speak from experience. I'm one of those "starting tomorrow" dieters. Food is definitely my drug of choice. I compare it to a drug because in excess that's what it is. Too much or the wrong kind is bad for you, puts you before family and keeps you from living the life that you really want. Doesn't that describe a drug? Some may disagree but I believe that food is very addictive. It's familiar and helps you forget about other things for just a few moments. It can also be a social pressure just as a drug can. Most of what we do socially is centered around food. I say "we" knowing that there are some healthy people out there who do not live the same lifestyle. So let's just assume I'm talking about my life, my family and my friends. We plan our outings around dinner plans. Lunch at the park, gatherings at church, parties at restaurants. Doesn't that sound familiar to you? Of course this is not true for everything we do but the majority of the time it is. So we give in, we go out to dinner or to the party and think, "OK, I can start again tomorrow". Why does this make any sense? It doesn't! That extra food we ate yesterday doesn't disappear overnight just because I have good intentions of getting back on the wagon tomorrow only to fall off again. Or as Oprah said last week, "I didn't just fall off this time; the wagon fell on me". Remember that post about starting the New Year off with good intentions? I did. So what happened? Life. Again. Its no excuse but its my story. So, here we go again because its the start of a new day.
What about the positive side of this notion? Yes, there is one! When life goes bad, or we do screw up in some way, tomorrow is the start of a new day. God willing, we will live to see the next day and have a chance to make things right. When we lose a loved one, we know that life will go on and tomorrow will come. We can wake up each morning and decide that today will be a great day because we choose for it to be. Sometimes life throws unexpected tragedies at us which can slow or sometimes cause it to stand still. No matter what, tomorrow will still come and it will be the start of a new day. For Christians, this means much more that the literal interpretation. God is forgiving, no matter our faults or wrong doings. He will forgive and all we have to do is ask. That seems simple enough so why do we hesitate? Never hesitate because he's always there. We have a tough but forgiving and loving God. My human self is so thankful for this because its only by grace that I get to start over so many times. I may fail over and over but I know that there is someone who will still accept me as I am and be my support at the start of a new day. "With the love and mercy from our God, a new day from Heaven will dawn upon us" Luke 1:78