Yesterday was an exciting day in our household. K learned how to ride his bike! I know that 3 and a half isn't that unusual of an age for bike riding, but this is the child who last summer wouldn't even pedal his tricycle. I'd see other two year olds happily tooling around on Big Wheels and tricycles and think "My child can do that, I KNOW he can do that." I'd set him on the tricycle, place his feet on the pedals and say "OK, now pedal, move your feet!"
Nothing. "Push me, mommy!"
I'd put my hands on his feet and try to get him to understand the motion and that the motion moved him forward.
He wasn't buying it. "Push me, mommy!" Physically I believe he had the capability; in every other way he was on target with his motor skills, but something in his brain was not making the connection that HE could do it. HE could make the tricycle move.
Then came yesterday, our first nice spring day, and an early school dismissal for J. K is now the size of a small four year old, so we decided to graduate him from the tricycle to J's old bike. I sat him on the bike, Thomas the Tank Engine helmet fixed securely to his head. I put my hands on his legs.
"OK, pedal!" I encouraged him as I moved his feet, trying to get him to understand the motion. Meanwhile J was zipping up and down the block on his bicycle. "Watch how J does it!" I said. A tentative turn of the feet, and the bike moved forward. Then it stopped. "Pedal, pedal!" I'd encourage again, hands on his legs reminding him of the motion. A few more turns. We worked our way slowly down the block...and then he got it. I graduated from hands moving his feet to a hand gently on his back, pushing him along, occasionally helping to steer.
By the end of the afternoon he had made it all the way down to the far end of the block and back and no longer needed (or wanted) my hands pushing him along. Occasionally he'd get hung up on a crack and say "Ok, little push now." But he was doing it! As we put the bike away he said, "I want to ride my bike forever."
I wonder if God is like that sometimes. He sees the gifts, the potential we have inside ourselves and sets us on the road to discovering them. But we think we can't do it, or we don't see the benefit to learning it, so we sit there on our bikes, wanting God to do all the work. "Pedal!" He encourages us. "It will be worth it!" He coaxes, maybe he puts things in our path that make us use those muscles to learn, and maybe he gives us other examples to watch. But always he encourages "Pedal, pedal, pedal! You can do it! I know you have it in you!"
And then it happens. Awkwardly, uncertainly, we start to move. We start to do the things that God knew all along we could do. Sometimes we get stuck, "Ok, a little push now, God." And he does, and we keep going, gaining strength and gracefulness as we go.
When K had really mastered the art of bike riding I was so excited that I called my husband on my cell phone. "Guess what K is doing! He's riding bike!" I wonder if God gets that excited when he sees his children using the potential that he has given them.