The labored breathing wrestled with the pounding of the runner’s feet against the poor man’s pavement. (At least that’s what the county road worker called it when we questioned why they were masticating our paved road and layering it with tar and rock) The runner, out of shape and short of breath, was spewing words of encouragement for the little guy on the bike just an arm’s length ahead. The sixteen inch tires, now liberated from the lopsided molded plastic training wheels, had everything they needed to really ride…except of course, surety of balance and a healthy dose of confidence.
I remember this moment, and since it was chronicled in the pixels of my cell phone we have a real, sort-of live, up-close and personal childhood first’s documentary.
I held the back of Johnny’s bicycle seat and promised I would hold onto him until he could keep it steady. He was terrified yet hopeful. Wobbly but determined. Trusting but with a tiny bit of doubt hovering on the outskirts.
On the video you can hear the clicking of the chain and the tires aggravating the gravel on the road. Instead of fun, cheeky music as a background track you have Mom, me, panting and yelling at a level-two volume all while trying to keep pace with the speed of the bike.
“Go Johnny, Go! You can do it! You’ve got it! Keep pedaling! Keep going. Go Johnny, go!
Rocking and swerving I knew that if he kept up the pace the momentum would keep him upright and he would have the best chance of balancing himself and then he could really ride.
The day I replayed the video, listening and watching this scene, my heart was deeply moved by that “still small voice” that echoed a repeating promise within my spirit.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
My son trusted me. He knew I would do everything within my power to keep him from falling into the rocks. And if he did topple over, I would be right there to brush the dirt off of his knees. Together, we would muscle the bicycle back to a starting position and begin again. Together we would exercise resilience.
Resilience. The core of the overcomer. In his book, Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life, author, Eric Greitens talks about pain, fear, and the virtue of resilience.
“Resilience is the virtue that enables people to move through hardship and become better. Pain can break us or make us wiser. Suffering can destroy us or make us stronger. Fear can cripple us, or it can make us more courageous. It is resilience that makes the difference.”
Oh the scars we have from the wrecks of our lives. Some like to talk about them. Some like to compare. Others have closets full of clothes tailored to hide the marks of living. Whatever your story, you are not alone. He runs alongside, and on many roads, he has carried you.
Be courageous. Begin again. God is there. Poor man’s cement, rich man’s cement, it matters not to him. He is present in any condition and he never fails.
Terrified yet hopeful. Wobbly but determined. Trusting but with a tiny bit of doubt, we can be assured of his presence in our unique circumstance as he cheers us on.
Go! You can do it! You’ve got it! Keep going!