The sun shone gently. The breeze blew just enough to keep us cool. My bike-riding family was a block ahead of me. No matter how hard I tried, I could not keep up. I felt like I was dragging a 300-pound weight behind my bicycle. At the end of our ride, I asked my husband to check my bike. Sure enough, the rear brake had been grabbing at my rear wheel the entire trip. A trip to the bike shop helped, but I was just barely able to keep up.
The next summer, I finally gave up on that bike and bought one that fit me. It was my size…not a hand-me-down from my husband. Suddenly, I wasn’t just keeping up with the family, I was leaving them behind with the least amount of effort!
Growing up in church, I tried to depend on others to give me the truth about Jesus. Whatever a particular church emphasized, that was the bicycle of truth I rode. One church emphasized an
“anything goes” attitude. Another talked unceasingly about hell. A third one emphasized earning God’s favor through wearing certain clothes and listening to certain music. Another condemned all modern Bible translations.
I tried out these different bikes. None fit. No matter how hard I tried to please God by living a certain way, I was still exhausted and getting nowhere. I knew that I didn’t have to earn a place in God’s family…that it was a gift accepted through faith. However, I thought that I could get God’s extra favor by being a good girl. Maybe if I tried hard enough, I could become one of his favorites.
I had to learn the hard way that these so-called “good” things were nothing but nasty, dirty rags to Him. I looked down on those who didn’t do things the way I was taught. After all, how could God bless them if they did ___________??
That very act of pride kept me from God’s mercy and grace.
How did this change?
I saw motorcycle-riding, earring-wearing scary dudes share Christ with love and compassion. I saw healthy, growing Christians thriving on the “wrong” Bible versions. I saw people who loved “bad” music fall head-over-heels in love with Jesus.
Aha!! It’s not about these side issues at all! Dress-codes and music-preference had nothing to do with it! Those were nothing more than man-made traditions. Jesus never meant for me to carry all those burdens!!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
Am I saying that I can follow Jesus and then do whatever I want? NOPE!
I am saying that I had it out of order.
Suddenly, I had my own spiritual bicycle to ride. This bike fits me. It’s not too big or too small. Sometimes the road is rough, rocky, and frightening, but His Spirit enables me. I no longer have to fight against the sticky brakes of man-made rules or the heavy trailers of religion. I am free to obey God. And the ride towards truth is exhilarating!