Recently in a sermon, I told the story of how my daughter learned to ride a bike. In case you missed it, here are the essential details. When my daughter was five, she received her first bike. It was pink and green with tassels on the handlebars, and it had “Girl’s World” written in big letters on the frame. She loved the bike and immediately began to show it off to the neighbor kids.
There was one problem; she didn’t know how to ride a bike. To fix this problem we got her some training wheels and for a few weeks she rode her new bicycle around the neighborhood with the training wheels on. These cylindrical learning aids didn’t dampen her excitement about her new shiny mode of transportation.
Then came the day when she asked to learn to ride her bike without the training wheels. I took the training wheels off and my little girl wheeled her bike out into the middle of the street. It was a beautiful summer day and many of the neighbors were outside enjoying the weather and working in their yards. Our training was going to have an audience.
When I learned to ride a bike there was a lot of skin lost from my elbows and knees in the process. I decided that my “Precious Princess” would not go through the same painful process that I went through. I had a much better method for teaching her. My plan was to hold on to the seat of the bike and run behind Maddy as she learned to pedal, steer, and balance, without the training wheels. We would practice time and time again with me holding onto the back of the bike until I felt she was ready and then I would let go, without her knowing that I had let go, and she would ride the bike away all on her own. Suddenly, she would realize that I wasn’t holding on to the bike anymore and that she was riding all on her own. She would be so excited that she was doing it on her own, and so overwhelmed with gratitude toward her dad and his ultimately wise training methods, that she would jump off the bike and run back to me and give me the world’s biggest daddy-daughter hug.
Due to flaws in the planning and the execution, the process didn’t work the way I envisioned. Maddy pedaled faster than I anticipated, and I got tired quicker than I anticipated. This led to a moment where Maddy was pedaling faster than I could run, and trying to keep ahold of the seat, I threw off her balance and she panicked, turned the steering wheel hard, and ate pavement. Because I was tired, unbalanced, and running behind her at full speed, I tripped over the bike and fell right on top of her.
There we laid in the middle of the street, a father-daughter pile of scrapes, cuts, blood, and tears. My daughter was hurting and crying, and her dad was hugging her and looking around to see how many neighbors saw this disaster. My daddy-daughter moment wasn’t filled with hugs of gratitude but checks to make sure there were no broken bones.
After a couple of minutes of regaining our composure, I began to carry Maddy back to our driveway with her arms wrapped around my neck. I set Maddy down in the driveway and was about to put the bike back in the garage when I heard Maddy say softly, “Dad, I want to try again.” I heard what she said, but as I turned around to see the cuts, scrapes, and blood, I still asked, “What Sweetie?” She said it again, “Dad, I want to try riding my bike again.” After I asked her if she was sure two or three more times, I straightened out the steering wheel on the bike, set it back in the street, and we started the process all over again. She fell a couple more times over the course of that Saturday afternoon, and there were more cuts and scrapes that I knew we would have to explain to Mom, but by the end of the afternoon, she was riding all over the neighborhood by herself.
That day, Maddy showed a characteristic that is key to life, and life In Christ. It’s called perseverance and it is the willingness to get back on the bike and keep trying when we have fallen off. In Hebrews 12:1, we are told that we must lay aside sins in our lives and run the race toward Christ with all “perseverance” or “endurance.” We are all going to experience times when we fall off the bike of pursuing Christ and living in righteousness, but perseverance means we get back on the bike despite our failure and our pain and we begin to pedal toward Jesus again.
As you read this you can probably pinpoint ways that you have fallen off the bike of pursuing Jesus. It may be that you have given into gossip, lies, lust, coveting, the idol of pleasure, the idol of comfort, the idol of success, or others among the plethora of sins and idols. We all fall off the bike, and we all go through seasons where we seem to be falling off the bike regularly. Let me encourage you to jump back on the bike right now and start pursuing Jesus with all you heart, soul, mind, and strength again. Let me encourage you to confess your sins to the Lord and then put them in the past and not dwell on them. Don’t meditate on the times yesterday or yesteryear where you fell off the bike. Forget what lies behind, get back on the bike and focus on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Keep pedaling!