By Sara Parker
I don’t understand how October is almost over and not a trace of Fall can be found anywhere. No brisk breeze in the air (except those few glorious days last week before we returned to our regular temperatures - nicer yes, but still not Fall). Not a red leaf in sight. Nope. The weeds are still growing in the garden beds at a maddening rate, and I am still avoiding the outdoors.
But my daughters are very different from me. While I always preferred to hunker down indoors and play with my Cabbage Patch Dolls, my daughters would play outside all day long every day if they could. Hot, cold, or in between—it matters not. They are in tune with nature. For a couple of weeks now, they’ve been mentioning a bike ride.
Now, we’ve braved short walks around the block, and spend many hours in the backyard drawing with chalk, playing on the playground, and making all sorts of contraptions with several broken jump ropes. We’ve worked on throwing, catching, and batting a baseball. We’ve done a little soccer, and tried a little badminton. But the last time I attempted a bike ride was the week before school went back in session.
That morning I had the bright idea to accompany all four of the little critters to the donut shop. It was hotter than I thought it would be. The ride took longer than I thought it would take. And, while my oldest son zoomed around on his bike in happy independence, and my younger son tried not to complain as he attempted to keep up with the pack…the girls….
Well, they shaved years off my life. Maybe an entire decade. They see danger, and they gravitate toward it. They see speed, and they try to capture it. They see a very steep hill... and they forget how to use their brakes.
But they have been craving a good old bike ride, and I supposed a few more gray hairs wouldn’t kill me. So this morning, even though I really needed to clean bathrooms, do laundry, and vacuum the entire house, I put everything on hold and brought the twins on a bike ride.
(We took Abby along with us. She wasn’t thrilled with her new Halloween costume.)
Mind you, we don’t exactly live in hill country. There is not much danger to be had when your four-year-olds are on tiny bikes with training wheels, equipped with helmets, and with very few hills or dangerous paths before them.
However, when my girls do encounter danger, they seldom recognize it; hence the need for the Mama-Bear-Imposed Red Light Safety System.
As we would crest a small hill, I foresaw them losing control of their bikes, tumbling down the hill, and landing in the lake. “Red light!” I would yell, and the girls obediently stopped and waited for me to catch up. I would crest the hill ahead of them, walk to the bottom of it, and wave them on. “Green light, just be careful on your way down!”
And they’d be off again, as I stood at the bottom of the pathetic excuse for a hill and guarded against sure death.
We began to make our way home after a while, and our pattern had become natural and easy. I saw the danger and called the signal; they obeyed; I protected. All was well. No broken bones. Not even a scraped knee.
We were approaching another miniscule hill. The girls pedaled to certain injury, and I eyed the peak, knowing tears would come if I didn’t slow them down. They giggled and squealed and raced and reached toward their goal.
And in that moment, I saw myself: Perpetually approaching the top of the hill, and missing the red light.
How many times have I conceived of a new goal, a new project, a new idea, and never looked around for the red light? (Or even the yellow one.) How many times has God eyed the crest of that hill and tried to warn me to stay right where I am? More embarrassingly, how often have I caught a glimpse of that red light and convinced myself I’d really seen green?
Lately, I have found myself in a season of over commitment. Yes, I will add a couple more piano students. Yes, I will sign up each of the kids for a sport. Yes, let’s try basketball this winter, even thought we never do sports in the winter season. Sure, I will make a meal for that new mom, help lead a Bible study, and chair that event again for the music teachers association. Go, go, go, go, go.
Oblivious to the red. Moving too fast to see the yellow.
I recognize a pattern in my life where settled feelings bore me. When I feel too normal, I often attempt to shake up that settled feeling by adding new things to my life. With no time for stillness, life, in some ways, is easier. Each moment is planned ahead and in my control. Or so I would like to think. As Beth Moore said in the Beloved Disciple study we’re doing at Ladies Bible Study (Fairfield Baptist), “…Being is so much harder than doing, isn’t it?”
“…Be still and know that I am God.” ~Psalm 46:10
Today I saw those words when my daughters crested that little bitty hill. I didn’t call for them to stop. They never even looked back. Neither of them fell. No scrapes, no bruises, still no broken bones. But even if they had fallen, I would have been there for them, scooping them up, taking care of their wounds, and setting them back on their feet.
How much more does our Heavenly Father want to do that for us?
For the rest of this season, I think I’ll walk with a little more caution, and take a little more time to stop at those red lights. Even when it seems like that red will never turn green. Eventually, I’ll run another red, but He’ll be ready for it. He always is.
“You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great.” ~Psalm 18:35