This story is part of a collection of works I self-published in a short book. You can download the collection here.
It was early Christmas morning, and all over the world millions of children were waking up, bounding down the stairs and eagerly tearing colored paper from the presents that had somehow magically appeared in the night.
One child, a 6-year-old boy named Michael, ripped off the brightly colored paper of a particularly large present and a great big smile beamed across his face. In a moment of pure joy, the boy wrapped his arms around his daddy’s neck and slurred several excited bursts of “thank you” as his dad beamed from ear to ear.
Michael begged his dad to take him outside and show him how to ride the bike. The boy’s father did what any loving father would do—he hurriedly put on his robe and carried both the little boy and the bike outside into the cold December air.
With the help of his father, Michael got on the bike and carefully placed his tiny hands on each of the handlebars. “I want to go fast, Daddy!” he squealed as he sat down on the bicycle, held upright by the strong arms of his father.
Michael had already learned how to ride a bicycle with training wheels, but this was his first “big kid” bike—the kind all the other first graders had started to ride.
The boy’s father said, “Okay buddy, but let’s take it slow at first.” Michael grumbled and whined a little bit, but something inside him knew (although he would never admit it) he needed his daddy’s help if he was ever going to learn to ride that bike on his own without falling over and getting hurt.
Michael’s daddy took some time to show his little boy how the bike worked. He took out the manual (although Michael insisted he would be fine without it) and flipped through it, showing Michael all the different parts of the bike. He showed him how to push the pedals. He pointed to the pedals and explained how pushing them would move the wheels. He turned the handlebars and showed Michael how to steer in the direction he wanted to go. He adjusted the height of the seat so that the little boy’s feet rested neatly on top of the pedals. Then Michael’s daddy carefully made sure his little boy knew that pedaling backward would stop the bike quickly when he needed to stop.
But like any other energetic little 6-year-old, Michael wasn’t really paying attention. He caught a little bit of what his father was saying, but he couldn’t stop thinking about how fun it would be to ride that bike all by himself. To go fast. To cruise down his driveway and feel the wind rush past his face and push his hair back.
Michael just wanted to get on that bike and ride.
Michael’s father lifted his son up onto the seat. With his hands securely on the shoulders of his little boy, the two rode around the driveway as Michael pedaled excitedly, beaming with pride.
After a few minutes of circling the driveway, Michael squealed, “Let go, Daddy!” Michael’s father thought for a moment, then turned to Michael and told him, “You’re not ready yet, buddy. Let’s take a few more days to practice with just you and me. I’m not sure you’re quite ready to ride on your own. You still need me to hold you up.”
But Michael didn’t see it that way. He threw a tantrum right there in the driveway and started to cry. He didn’t want to ride the bike with his dad holding him up. He wanted to ride that bike by himself. He wanted to proudly show his friends that he could ride the bike (and ride it fast!) all by himself, without his father’s help.
Michael’s daddy tried with little success to calm the boy down. As everyone knows, it’s no easy task to rationalize with a 6-year-old boy. Michael wasn’t going to let up until he had a shot at riding the bike by himself—until he was free from the annoying hold of his father.
So, even though he knew the boy wasn’t ready, Michael’s father agreed to let his little boy have a chance at riding the bike all by himself. Once again, Michael started to ride and his father ran alongside him, still holding the shoulders of his little boy to keep him from falling over.
“Let go, Daddy!” Michael squealed with excitement.
With a little hesitation, Michael’s daddy let go of the boy and slowed down to stop and watch him ride down the street. Somehow, he already knew what was going to happen next.
The little boy rode down the street, pedaling that bright blue bike faster and faster.
Michael beamed with glee. He was riding the bike all by himself. And he loved it. The whooshing sound of the wind flying past him grew louder and louder, and for a few minute he was as happy as could be.
But as he neared the end of his street, he saw the curb at the end of the asphalt approaching quickly. To his dismay, he realized he was going too fast to slow down to avoid the bump at the end of the road. His eyes grew wide and he let out a frightened scream as his bike slammed into the curb at a tremendous speed.
The little boy was thrown from the bike onto the hard asphalt, scraping both his hands, knees and one of his cheeks as he came to an abrupt stop.
Michael sat there for a moment, somewhat shaken up, and his eyes welled up with great big crocodile tears. He whimpered for a moment and began to cry as he lay there, his brand-new, “big boy” bike lying in a heap just a few feet next to him.
“I’m coming, Michael! I’ll be right there!”
The reassuring voice of his father was to the little boy like the taste of fresh water is to the lips of a tired traveler. The sound of that voice, the voice the little boy had tried to ignore—and even resented—just a few moments earlier, made the tears stream down his face with even greater intensity.
Michael’s father ran up to his little boy and scooped him up into his big strong arms. He held the boy close to his chest and whispered into his ear, “It’s okay, buddy. I’ve got you.” The little boy buried his face into the chest of his father, and the tears flowed like waterfalls from his little pale blue eyes.
“Everything’s going to be okay, buddy. Daddy’s got you now. Let’s go home.” And together, father and son walked back up the road to the house.
“Everything’s going to be okay.”
In this story, the little boy is me. And you. The bicycle is life.
Michael’s dad is God.
We all want to ride the bicycle of life on our own.
We don’t like it when someone tells us we need to do something differently or change the way we ride our bikes.
We don’t like training wheels, because that means we’re not totally independent.
We want to go fast and feel the wind in our hair.
And going fast is fun. But we want to go faster. We get too confident, and sooner or later we’re going too fast to stop when the curb approaches.
And we crash.
We lose a friend. Someone close to us dies. Our parents get divorced. We take a risk and fail miserably. We hurt someone. Or someone hurts us.
And whether we like it or not, it’s not a matter of what will happen if we crash. It’s when.
Crashing hurts. The tears may go away over time, but the scars and bruises don’t. And we’re in pain.
But our Father is not far behind.
“I’m coming, buddy.”
Our Father does not say, “I told you so.”Or, “You should have listened to me.”Or, “This one’s on you.”
“Everything’s going to be okay, buddy. Daddy’s got you now.”
This is life. A seemingly ironic, back-and-forth story about riding fast and crashing hard…until we learn to swallow our pride, listen to the loving words of our Father, and do it His way.
And when we feel His strong arms pick us up, a peculiar thing happens.
We’re at peace.
We’re still in pain, but somehow we know everything’s going to be okay in the end.
My prayer is that you would come to know your Father the same way millions (if not billions) of people have come to know Him. To know what it’s like to bury your face into His chest while the tears continue to flow. To feel His arms around you, and to know deep down that it will all work out in the end.
“Everything’s going to be okay, buddy. Daddy’s got you now.
Let’s go home.”