I have had a bicycle in our garage for over a year. A birthday present I never asked for. My loving family felt I needed exercise and a bike was likely to get more use than a pair of running shoes or gym membership. They even added a voucher for me to buy whatever extras I wanted – like a helmet, lights, lock – that kind of thing. So I did (they stayed in the garage for over a year as well). See … I never believed I could ride a bike. Well – to be precise –
I never believed I could ride a bike without broadcasting to the world that I am a totally unfit old bloke. And I work hard to maintain the illusion that I am neither old nor unfit (not really). And in order to maintain this image the bike and bits had to remain unused.
(If you are questioning the absence of logic in this scenario – I am totally with you. So let’s talk about you for a few minutes and see how logic “stays in the garage” in different parts of your life)
Then something happened recently to change my belief. I began to believe I could ride a bike and not look totally knackered. So I did. I got the bike out of the garage. I added the lights and found the helmet still fits. I am good to go! And I have! I am finding real joy in cycling slowly. I even did a “biggie” this weekend. Way beyond my comfort zone – and I survived. My bum is a tad sore – but I did a biggie!
Jesus said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14
I have always read these verses as “luncheon, dinner, and banquet” – as in when I am extending my social skills – inviting others to our place – offering our food and wine. Because that imagery goes with the “heavenly party, banquet, celebration” imagery. And that imagery links to “don’t do to others what others will do to you” (in a good way). And is all very biblical. And all very Christian.
Except this weekend “I gave” to my poor, crippled, lame and blind self-esteem. I gave it a biggie with no expectation of any return. My self-esteem was invited to the banquet without any expectation (of anything good)! I knew.
(did I mention that I had a lift already sorted/planned should I be unable to complete the ride there and back – but that I used the likelihood of rain as the reason for planning my back-up?)
Except that on the ride back I was given WAY more than just “a payback” …
On the way back I was riding up a hill – which is what fit people do (which counts me out). And yet here I was (again) slowly riding up a hill (again) without collapsing in a heap (again). It puzzles me. I shouldn’t be able to do “that” – not yet!
And so my GSHJ helped me out: “When you look down in front of you – as you do – the ground looks flat. It is a trick of the eye. And when you look up to check the distance you see a hill, an incline. You “know” you are going up a hill – but you look down and see “flat” – so you “know” you are on the flat. And that is why you can – you think you are on the flat even as you are going up the hill. Just like I can only be with you in the present, Paul. Like here – on the flat.
So you look up – you see all the things that will stop you being who you are. And you reflect on what is behind you – and that tends to be much the same. But when you live in the future and/or the past – that is when you “know” what you can and cannot be – and that is when you shut me out.
Yet look at us now … Here we both are – in the present – and you riding up hills you never could – and us chatting together while you do! Both of us “riding on the flat” in this moment together!“
This weekend I learned something about being a Follower.
I learned that I can listen to GSHJ respectfully, worshipfully, gracefully, religiously, churchfully, disciplefully … that I can follow Him sincerely, honestly, humbly, sacrificially … that I can be a really good Christian …
And ignore everything He desires for me.