Did you ever ride a tandem bike – a bicycle built for two? The summer after I graduated from High School I purchased a tandem bike. It was one of those arbitrary decisions…
I saw it sitting in the store, and it just looked cool. I stood there imagining how much fun it would be to ride, so on a whim, I bought it. Little did I know that God would use this impulse buy to teach me one of the most important spiritual lessons of my life.
I quickly learned that riding it by myself was no fun but riding it with friends was a blast. I rode it with various friends through the streets of our small community. Since it was the only tandem bike in town at the time, we drew a lot of attention.
When I rode with one friend, in particular, we always had problems with the bike. In fact, riding with this friend was downright stressful.
Every time we went around a curve or turned a corner the brakes would lock, and we would nearly tip over. Well, at least that’s what I thought was happening. I finally figured out that my friend was applying the brakes from the back while I tried to pedal from the front. A recipe for disaster, no doubt.
While riding the bike with my Dad one day, I realized why my friend was breaking when she should have been pedaling. You see, when I rode with friends, I always rode on the front, and they always rode on the back. But the ride with Dad was different. On this day Dad rode on the front, and I rode on the back.
I had never ridden from the rear seat before so I didn’t realize how different the perspective was. If you have ever ridden a tandem bike, you know what I am talking about.
Riding a tandem bike requires both riders to be in-sync, but they have two very different roles. The person in the front steers, brakes and determines the direction of the bike. And the job of the individual on the back is to provide pedal power. When you are on the back of the bike, you must have total trust in the person on the front because all you can see is their back.
Then it dawned on me why my friend was breaking when she should have been pedaling. It’s a scary thing to go blindly into a curve without seeing what lies ahead. Let’s face it; it’s downright stressful. When we rode together in the future as we neared a curve, I would encourage her to” just pedal.” She began to trust me and enjoy the ride instead of stressing out that we wouldn’t make it.
It was about this time I realized life with Jesus is rather like a tandem bike ride. I had asked Him to ride with me, but I was on the front, and He was on the back helping me pedal. Even though I was riding with Jesus, my life was still full of stress. It was at this time Jesus suggested that we change seats. At first, I didn’t want to. It was too scary not to be in control, to not know where I was going or what was coming next.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (HCSB)
You see as a champion perfectionist and control freak I thought I knew the best way and wanted to make sure it turned out the way I wanted it. But since I was a stressed out mess, I decided to switch seats with Him. I took the back seat and life has never been the same.
When I let Jesus lead the ride became exciting and unpredictable, and yes a little scary but then I noticed it, less stress. It was like a light bulb went on; He is God, and I am not. Wow, what a weight that lifts off of your shoulders.
By trying to control things and make sure they happen the way I think they should I create my own stress. When I ride from the back, I have learned that I can totally trust Him and He will take care of anything that comes our way.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Forget the boring, stress filled, predictable life. I am on a delightful and adventurous wild ride up mountains and through rocky places at breakneck speeds. I am learning to pedal in the strangest places, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
My tandem bike is long gone but the wonderful memories of time spent with friends remain. And the lesson of how He used that bike to teach me how to live an adventurous, less stressful life will never fade.
There are still times when I get a little anxious and ask “Where are you taking me?”. But He has a plan. He chuckles, reminds me of Jeremiah 29:11, and says “Just pedal.”
What area of your life causes you the most stress? Are you riding with Jesus? Is He on the front or the back of your bike?
This post first appeared on March 14, 2017