I taught myself how to ride my bike in the backyard of a small cinder block house, a yard far larger than the average yard today, with a definite slope. I had discovered that if I rode downhill, I picked up enough speed to remain upright longer than on a flat surface, and when I did fall, the grass was far softer than the street. Every day I went a little further down that hill before the bike finally started to tip. The day I made it all the way down, turned and came halfway back up the hill, I knew I was ready for the road, a long cul-de-sac with the same slope as the backyard. Within a week I could ride that bike on any street in the neighborhood.
After Keith and I married, we both had bikes, and after the boys came along, each bike had a child seat on the back of it. By that point we lived in the country right next to the meetinghouse and the cemetery. We often rode our bikes to visit folks, one boy perched on the back of each. It made a great conversation starter when we pulled in to the homes of those who had recently visited the assembly, the elderly, or the young marrieds whom the church was in imminent danger of losing to the world. Sometimes we rode as far as five miles one way, then back home an hour later. The rural highways were largely empty and safe.
I haven’t been on a bike in a long time now, but Keith rode his to work, usually twice a week, thirteen miles one way. He is on his third bike, but with the price of gas, a new bicycle pays for itself quickly.
We have had a lot of windy days this spring—extremely windy. Twenty-five mile an hour winds with gusts up to forty. One morning his ride to work was in the same direction that wind was blowing. He made it in 55 minutes, instead of the usual 65-70. The ride home was against the wind, and it took 92 grueling minutes. His legs were practically jelly when he hopped off the bike. If you have never ridden a bike against the wind, a real wind not just a breeze, you don’t understand exactly how difficult it can be.
Except for this—if you remember your life before you became a Christian, it was exactly that way—against the wind. No matter how hard you tried to be good, you failed. No matter how much you wanted to turn your life around, when all you did was pedal into the wind you made little or no progress at all.
Then Christ came along and “delivered you from this body of death” (Rom 7:24). He put the wind behind you. How else can you explain the fact that you have become something so much better than you ever were before? Now you have help, a wind at your back gently pushing you along toward success.
If you aren’t seeing any progress, something is wrong. Are you still
pedaling against the wind? Then you are still trying to control things you cannot control; you are still trying to be something better by your own might. Only when you give up and let the Lord guide your bike with the gentle nudge of a loving Savior, and his hand on the seat to keep you upright, will you ever begin to make progress against sin and the world. You need to turn that bike around and stop pedaling against the wind. What you can be and do with the help of Christ is limited only by your willingness to accept his friendly push.
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out... For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!...There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Rom 7:15, 17-18, 22-8:1