Do you remember the day you learned to ride a bike without the training wheels? The sensation of trying to balance on two wheels without toppling over. Those first tentative pedals as you gratefully felt your parent’s hand on the seat of your bike. The first fall as you tried to take off on your own. The second fall, the third… Then, finally, riding on your own.
The training wheels taught you how to balance and gave you support as you learned to pedal and steer. They helped you trust in your abilities as you learned to ride faster and faster. Yet, they were never intended to stay on forever. They were simply temporary supports as you developed the skills to ride on your own.
The Christian life is learned, much like learning to ride a bike.
As we begin growing in faith, God often gives us training wheels. We lean into community with other Christians, we study the Bible, and we learn to pray. In time, we learn to hear God’s voice and listen for his direction. As we learn to go to God for everything, we learn to rely on following where he leads. At some point, though, he wants us to take off the training wheels and learn to use what we’ve learned.
God removes your faith training wheels to practice what you’ve learned
I remember the day God removed my faith training wheels more clearly than I remember learning to ride a bike. I’d just come through a very dark season in my life. One where I’d had to rely on God to illuminate each next step in my path. A season where the path forward was so shrouded in uncertainty I didn’t know where to step, except to pray and listen intently for his response.
I was invited to join a year-long leadership course, one I knew would require a significant investment of my time. I was torn about signing up. I wanted to attend and knew it would lead me in the direction God wanted for my life, yet I was weary from this season of overwhelm and it felt like too much to take on. I agreed to pray about it and see how God would direct me.
That night, before I could even form the question in my prayer, I heard God whisper, “You already know the answer.”
“You already know the answer.”
That wasn’t the response I was expecting. I wanted something more clear, like “yes, take the class” or (even better) “no, you’re too busy, wait for the next one.” How was I supposed to know the answer on my own?
Training in faith sets us up to live more confidently as Christians
That’s the thing about training. You learn as an apprentice for a time, with the intent to learn to it on your own eventually. When our kids are little, we guide each and every step, but as they grow we push them ever closer to independence. As much as we love helping them, we know it’s our job to equip them to live on their own, making sound decisions based on the values we’ve instilled in their hearts. God does the same with us. He wants to train us and guide us, intending eventually for us to be able to make some decisions on our own.
“You already know the answer.”
I knew the answer because I knew God’s desires for my life. He’d placed a call on my life and I’d been working with him to grasp the vision and submit to his plan. I knew this course was exactly the next step I needed. I only needed to submit to the plan God had orchestrated and trust in his timing.
God wants us to trust him and stay close, but like a good parent he also wants to train us to make good decisions
It’s not that God doesn’t want us to ask for guidance and help, but he does want us to develop the wisdom and good judgment to make some decisions on our own. He wants to set our hearts in the right direction and let us take off.
I felt God’s hands let go of the bicycle seat that day and my knees began to buckle a bit in fear. I didn’t feel quite ready to ride on my own, yet I knew his hands weren’t far away. Sure, we may fall and we may make a wrong turn. That’s all part of the learning process. But, he’s there to pick us up and set us back on the right track when we need him.
Is it time to remove your faith training wheels?
Does God feel far from you? Are you having trouble hearing his responses to your prayers? Could it be that he’s encouraging you to take off the faith training wheels? Take what you’ve learned through your faith journey and through the Bible and apply it to your current situation.
Do you already know the answer?