Tonight, my youngest son rode his bike without training wheels for the first time.
It was the plan, all along, for him to take them off on his 5th birthday. I knew he was ready, but he wasn’t so sure—he needed to wait until he was five. Today is one week before that little joy of a boy turns five. As I replaced a tube on my 7-year-old’s bike in the garage, my almost-10-year-old boy helped take the training wheels off of the bike for the almost-5-year-old boy. And just like that, before I could even look up from what I was doing, Simon was cruising up and down the street, free of hindrances, smile as wide as the sky.
I finished putting the fixed wheel back on the bike I was working on, and bolted inside to grab my phone, feeling a twinge of failure that I hadn’t captured my little boy’s first attempt at riding solo. When I got back outside, Simon was in high heaven. He was so pleased with himself, and so empowered by his new skill; he was giddy.
When it was finally time to come inside, Simon walked his bike up to the garage. He took off his helmet while I was putting away all the wrenches. He was expressing his joy at his new skills, and I was letting him know how proud of him I was. I took a picture of his old training wheels, then threw them in the garbage. That’s when he said to me, “And we’ll get new training wheels for the bikes I get after this one so I can get used to them.”
I love the way little kids think.
I assured him that something amazing happened that day: that once you have ridden without training wheels, you would never need them ever again.
It was a sweet moment that reminded me… again… that my children are growing up before my very eyes. That moment has lingered with me throughout the evening, and I can’t help but think there are some gems of wisdom in there for us.
I hope I remember Simon’s joy as he turned sharp corners and went up and down slants on the sidewalk without a problem. I hope I remember how useless the training wheels looked there on the floor of my garage. I hope I remember the silly question Simon had about getting training wheels again for his next bike.
As I seek wisdom and think about applying this to my own life, I wonder what “training wheels” God is waiting to remove in my life. I wonder if I am trying to hold on to training wheels in areas where I already am capable—old aids for new things. I wonder if my actions sometimes look as ridiculous to God as the image of Simon putting training wheels on his future bikes. I wonder how often I miss out on the joy and exhilaration of riding freely the way God knows I can, only because I prefer the safety of keeping my training wheels on.
Three times today, I have heard the story of Gideon. (If you’re not familiar with it, it’s an easy read in the Bible—Judges chapters 6 & 7.) Gideon was absolutely one of those individuals who did not feel ready for the task God gave to him. He was comfortable with his “training wheels,” if you will. But God spoke amazing things to Gideon, giving Gideon a glimpse into the way that God saw him. And even in the midst of uncertainty from Gideon, God took those training wheels off of him (and the Isrealite army), so that they could experience the joy of freely following the God who loved them and provided for them like nothing else.
I’m still working through the above questions for myself, although based on the stories of Gideon and others like him, I know there are areas in my life where God desires to remove training wheels I no longer need. How about you? Are trying to keep your “training wheels” on? Or have you learned to trust God’s timing as he encourages you to ride freely?
I’d love to hear your “training wheels” story around the fire today!