Last week, I went on a refreshing five-mile bike ride—with my seven-year-old daughter.
Understand, she’s only been off training wheels for a month, so this was quite an ambitious trek. My daughter is building stamina and learning the rules of the road.
Quite frankly, so am I.
“STOP!!” I shouted to the purple helmet five feet ahead. My daughter swung her head toward me and slammed her breaks, just as a car came around the corner. I hurried into the road to steer her back to the sidewalk, waved sorry to the car’s driver, and immediately scolded the bike shorts off my daughter’s little behind.
“Did you look for cars before you rode into the street?! You can’t wheel into the road without looking for cars first! You know that!!”
She lowered her chin and pedaled up the sidewalk ramp, quiet. “Sorry, Momma.”
“Didn’t you hear that car coming up behind us? You need to LISTEN and LOOK. Those are the rules. Do you understand me?” I barked at her heels.
“Yes.” She biked slowly for another half a block while I peddled close behind her. I watched the pink and blue streamers flying from her handlebars, and my heart lurched.
“Lovey, stop for a minute, please.” She anchored her sneakers to the ground. I placed my hand on that tangled red hair escaping from beneath her helmet and squeezed her shoulder. “You know why I scolded you, right? It’s because I love you so, so much. If you don’t pay attention to the safety rules, you could get hurt, and I don’t ever want that to happen. The rules are there to protect you.”
I think God and I have a similar conversation sometimes.
Sure, Lord, I know you told me to think about whatever is pure and praiseworthy, but will it really hurt me if I watch this movie just once?
Or if I indulge in a harmless compliment from a male co-worker because hey, my husband isn’t telling me stuff like that and it’s nice to hear, plus I said it’s harmless, right?
Or can’t I just snap my child’s head off right now because grrr she made me so mad, I mean, if you’d heard what she just said to me, you would totally snap at her, too, I’m sure of it. Sometimes I just don’t want to bother to pay attention to the rules, okay?!
Oh, darlin’, the Lord sighs. Please don’t steer into that road. Trust me. I see what’s coming around the corner. My words are designed to protect you.
“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,” (1 John 3:5).
When we take our eyes off God, our travel guide, we can all too easily veer toward oncoming traffic. We might not even mean to do it. Sometimes all it takes is an absent-minded moment, a distracted or careless decision and we neglect to follow the rules. Then we become an easy target for harm.
But thankfully the Lord still peddles behind us, ready to yell “STOP!”
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it,” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Where in your life are you wobbling off the road? Are you listening to God urging you to look both ways before you cross? He doesn’t do it to burden or annoy you. He does it because he loves you. And when faced with his way or ours, God’s protection is always the better choice.
My daughter and I made it home from our bike ride with aching legs and high-fives on our hands, proud of our five-mile accomplishment. And I was proud of her for learning—albeit the hard way—to keep her eyes on the road and steer wisely.
I hope God says the same thing about me someday. Don’t you?