Friday, April 9, 2010

Lessons from a Tandem & a Precious Old Friend

Have you ever ridden a tandem (or two-seater) bike?  Believe it or not, I spent a good bit of time riding one in my young life, but hadn't thought about that for quite some time.  Not long ago, I happened to hear Chuck Swindoll share a story that captivated my attention and brought memories flooding back to my mind.  It's called "A Bike Ride with God" and its original author is unknown.

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At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there, sort of like the president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn't know him. But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don't know just when it was that He suggested that we change places, but life has not been the same since. When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring but predictable ... It was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds, and it was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said, "Pedal." I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are You taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I say, "I'm scared," He'd lean back and touch my hand. He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance, and joy. They gave me gifts to take on my journey, my Lord's and mine. And we're off again. He said, "Give the gifts away, they're extra baggage, too much weight." So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light. I did not trust Him at first, to be in control of my life, I thought He would wreck it; But He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten scary passages. I'm learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ. And when I'm sure I just can't do anymore, He smiles and says ... "Pedal."

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This is a powerful lesson for anyone, don't you think?  Let me tell you why I found it especially meaningful. 

My childhood best friend, Danny had a sister who was blind.  Diana absolutely loved adventure of any kind.  One of the things she had always dreamed of was riding bikes with Danny.  Around the time he and  I were in middle school, their parents found and purchased a tandem bike.  She could not wait to take a ride, so the moment it was unloaded from their station wagon, they were off.  Soon they returned and asked me to join them -- this time Danny on his bike, Diana and I on the tandem.  We had an absolute blast!  Diana, who was about 20 years old by this time, was in her element.  She'd say "Let's pedal faster!" and we would.  (In fact, we often went faster than I thought that bike could go!  ) 

Our neighborhood had a few twists and hills, which she especially loved -- the more adventurous the ride, the better.  I remember glancing back at her once as we were flying down one of those hills.  She was squealing with delight, positively beaming with her feet sticking straight out to either side.  It was pure, complete, unbridled joy.  One of those moments forever etched in my heart.

As you can imagine, I couldn't help but think of Diana and re-live those memories as I heard the story, but its significance doesn't stop there. 
It occurred to me that all my years of riding the tandem found me in the front position.  Diana, whose blindness prevented her from ever being the one who steered or controlled the bike, was always so very happy and eager to simply pedal and enjoy.  She never once appeared to give thought to wanting to be the one in control, nor did she ever seem fearful of her safety.  Instead, she embraced the ride wherever it lead, with great joy, passion and complete trust. 
Something else that will delight you about Diana?  She sought her relationship with the Lord the very same way. I met her when I was 5 years old, and my earliest and most recurrent memory is her sitting on their front porch, reading one of many volumes of her Braille Bible, grinning from ear to ear.  If you asked her what she was reading...she'd say "the Bible...the greatest story ever told!" 

As you can imagine, she had quite an impact on my eternal one, in fact.  You see it was Diana, who (with great joy) lead me to the Lord.

Dear Father, Thank you for reminding me of Diana's exuberant faith -- joyful, passionate, humble and completely trusting in You and Your will.  I'm so grateful for her influence in my life.  She truly made knowing You irresistible.   


Wylie @ Shout A Joyful Noise! said...

Oh, I am so blessed by this story! Chills! Have a wonderful weekend & thanks for sharing!

Karen said...

What a wonderful devotion...I LOVE the idea of riding tandem with the Lord...and such a precious testimony of your sweet friend...I had chills, too...

Lea said...

The story of the bike ride was wonderful and one I don't want to ever forget but your friend Diana... and you....UNBRIDLED JOY... feet sticking straight out... ahhhh what a joyfilled friendship you had.
Thankyou for sharing her with us Tracy. I'm smiling.

Just a little something from Judy said...

I have been so blessed by this story. You, my friend have a gift of writing. You have a way of taking stories and making them come alive. You, Chuck Swindoll and Diana created a story that inspired and motivated me to hang on for the wonderful ride that God has planned for my life. Great post!

Diana said...

What an awesome story!!

Let's rest in the Lord as He is in the front.

Peggy said...

AMEN & Blessings sweet Tracy... tears welled up in my eyes...such a beautiful, wonderful, wonder filled story and truth! Loved the correlation! Love Chuck Swindoll.

Thank You Lord, for precious Diana and her leading my sweet friend Tracy to know Jesus! This is a rich testimony! Diana truly knows TRUST

Gotta get that bike out and start pedaling or coasting and TRUSTing!

Miss ya' (((hugs))) peace ~Peggy

Melanie Redd said...

What a great story by Chuck and by you! I could see you guys riding that tandem bike and Diana smiling as I read.

Thanks for the inspiration, and the reminder to hang on and enjoy the ride - on the back seat!


NanaNor's said...

Hi there, I just stopped by from Diana's place and so glad I did-what a wonderful post. Thank you for the reminder! I'll be following you-love what I've read.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Funny, I've never been comfortable in the second seat of a tandem bike.

A good lesson, indeed! And thank God for Diana and her relationship with the Lord that had such an obvious impact on you... a kingdom impact!


Beverly @ My Sew Sweet Studio said...

What a wonderful story. The Jesus version, of course a good lesson in trust, but I was really touched by your real life application.
You blessed my day with these stories.
Thanks, Tracy

Jennifer said...

To think of the complete confidence Diana had in you as the driver - what a wonderful picture of total trust! Such a special memory..and special friend.

Susan said...

Oh, what a precious story Tracy! Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

I would love to have had a Diana in my life.

Blessings to you my sweet friend~

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracy! Good Morning. I loved catching up on your blog. This post is so touching and encouraging. PS ~ We use those same recipes for Easter. :-) Hope this finds you doing great!!!