“A bike! A bike!” I exclaimed on Christmas morning when I saw a bicycle leaning against the wall next to the tree. But I was soon disappointed. My parents wouldn’t let me learn to ride it because we lived on a busy street. I had to wait six long months before we moved to a new house in a quiet neighborhood, where I had a chance to learn to ride my cherished bike. My older brother and I talked all week long about him teaching me to ride my bicycle that coming Saturday morning.
I woke up early because of my anticipation, and even though it was pouring down rain, nothing could dampen my excitement. My awesome big brother didn’t hesitate either. We both put on our coats and burst out the front door to launch my new adventure. He helped me get on the bike and held it steady as I learned to peddle. He ran beside me, keeping me upright. Then, after I had some practice, he let go. I peddled for a short distance before the bike and I fell over.
My older brother was immediately by my side, lifting me up, encouraging me, and helping me get back on the bicycle. Again, he held me upright until I built up enough speed that he felt it was time to let go. I peddled a bit longer than I previously did, but it wasn’t long before I was on the ground again with my brother standing beside me, lifting me up and helping me start over again.
This pattern repeated itself until I was confident and capable enough to ride a considerable distance, but the gutters at each intersection were overflowing with water and became impassable obstacles. As the wheels entered the flood, the bike just seemed to slow down and stop in the middle of this stream, so over I went into a flowing current of water. I clearly remember the water splashing my face and drenching my clothes as I rose from the ground to get back on my feet and grab my bicycle to try and navigate through these torrents of water again. I was soaked, but I didn’t feel cold because the exhilaration of learning this new skill eclipsed everything else.
An hour or so later, after successfully riding my bike all the way around the block without falling down, I ran into our house to announce my triumph. My mother was standing at the stove cooking eggs for breakfast. She heard my excitement and turned to see her young son, drenched head to toe, with torn jeans and a scraped knee. She exclaimed, “Oh, my dear boy! What happened? Are you OK?” I couldn’t understand why she was so concerned. I had just learned how to ride a bike!
Life is a time to learn and grow. We make mistakes and scrape our knees, but it is all part of the program. We have Jesus who lifts us up and helps us move forward each time we fall. His love, expressed through his grace, empowers us to get back up and move forward so we can learn from our mistakes as we can grow to become more like him.
God knows that our efforts will be imperfect. He expects it. The Lord just wants us to keep trying because He knows the outcome is worth it. One does not learn how to succeed without going through a learning curve. The Lord Almighty himself did not immediately receive a fullness of his wisdom and glory on earth but continued little by little until he received a fullness. Paul tells us, “Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” Are we greater than he? We learn by doing things. We improve by making mistakes and trying again. We become more like God through practice, and His grace sustains us through the process.