I was watching a show this afternoon where a father was trying to teach his son to ride a bike. While most children are very eager to learn how to ride a bike, they are also afraid. Why? Because in addition to never having done it before without training wheels or a firm hand on the handle bars and seat, they realize if they don't get it right, they will fall and maybe even get hurt.
The desire to be independent and do things all by ourselves is very strong within us and for the most part, that is a good thing. We must move from being utterly dependent to being independent. Did you notice I did not say utterly independent? While we might like to be independent the reality is none of us can be completely independent all of the time. We need one another from time to time.
The boy hesitated. He was frightened by what might happen if his father let go. I found myself yelling at the screen. "Its okay! Your dad will still be right there beside you and he won't let you fall!"
Of course, it could happen. The boy might move a bit too quickly or catch his dad off-guard but even if he were to fall, his dad would be right there to pick him up, dust him off, tend to any scrapes, bumps or bruises, hug him and encourage him to get back onto the bike and try again. It is what a good parent (or grandparent) does.
God does not desire me to remain stagnant. He wants me to grow and experience new things. He constantly challenges me to move to a higher level. Sometimes, I feel His hand on my "bike" and I venture forth confidently. Then suddenly, I do not feel that hand quite so firmly. In fact, I may not feel it at all. God is not only encouraging me but He is allowing me to do the things I am capable of doing all by myself.
In those moments, I can be confident that God has not abandoned me. He runs along beside me, always watchful and ready to steady me if need be. He also allows me to fall.
Yes, you read that right. The only way to learn how to fall safely and rise up again is to practice falling. Yes, we may fail sometimes but God is right there to pick us up, hold us and teach us how to do it better the next time.
God not only goes before us, He walks beside us and He will never abandon us. Never.