Today was my favorite kind of Sunday--a no commitment, family centric, low key day with little to no agenda. We went to church this morning and then to lunch before returning home to just bask in this gorgeous almost-Fall weather.
P & R created some sort of Star Wars masks (General somebody's bodyguard and a storm trooper) out of copy paper, markers, scissors and twine--then decided to try and play baseball wearing them. Not to be outdone, K dressed up in a ladybug costume and threw a front porch birthday party for her favorite doll. (She gave the doll a pair of binoculars wrapped in a gift bag as a gift, so she would be appropriately prepared for the baseball game.) This age is awesome!
Around 4 we loaded up the bikes and decided to try for a family outing. You may recall the last time we attempted this trail. We got more than we bargained for then, but we knew what we were in for today--sort of. Last Summer everyone was still sporting training wheels. This time we are all on two wheels (with varied degrees of competency).
K is pretty reliable. She dropped her training wheels last Fall and practices a lot. She rides hard, fast and fearlessly. She doesn't crash often, but when she does they are huge.
R is a little sketchy on his stops and starts. Once he is off and running he is steady and reliable--but he doubts himself a little in his instability and prefers a guiding hand for security. He is confident once he is going. His primary motivation is not being bested by his sister.
P is our greenest rider, and the one with the least interest in practicing. He can do it, but he doesn't really believe in himself. He has always had to work harder than his siblings with physical endeavors and balance is not his strong point. Any time he wobbles, he over corrects and that's is where the trouble comes. He freaks out and his fear becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. He crashed a lot this afternoon.
I am a little like each of them, in various areas of my own life...sometimes confident to a fault, other times slow to start and hesitant to quit, seemingly always struggling with balance.
My husband and I positioned ourselves midway in the pack and at the back--guiding the front runners with our voices, cheering our struggling son with our presence. At one point, when I was 70 yards or so ahead with K & R, I stopped and looked back to observe P & his Daddy. As my husband helped P up from a crash and straightened his bike for another go at it, I was struck by the love of a father for his struggling son. He didn't berate P. He patiently instructed him in how to improve in his next attempt. He encouraged him to try again.
We did our best to create an ideal learning environment--helmets, wide open, car-free trails and flat ground. Yet, falls are an inevitable part of learning to ride a bike. Because my husband is a loving father, he is willing to let P risk scraped knees for the freedom, accomplishment and growth that comes from mastering a new skill. Because he loves him, he won't leave P crying on the sidewalk, defeated. He won't let P give up.
I felt like I had a little glimpse into the ways of our Heavenly Father. Part of the sanctification process is letting us scrape our knees as we try to learn to be more like our Lord. He is with us. His presence and His voice are there to coach, guide, correct and encourage us. When we fall He does not mock us or leave us to lick our wounds in the dirt. No, He helps us up and assists as we get back on the path and try again.
"The Lord our God is with us. He is mighty to save. He takes great delight in you. He quiets you with His love." Zephaniah 3:17 NIV
I believe He delights in seeing us giggle with joy as we learn to ride with the sun on our skin and the cool freeze kissing our faces. May we never forget the gift of having God who is also a Father.