Our youngest daughter is grown now, but when she was about five I almost messed her up bad. I learned a precious lesson that day. And so here’s my warning to all you real moms and real dads out there: do not ride a bicycle while your young child is on your shoulders.
Yes, I actually did this. Furthermore, we had not donned helmets, and of course, we were not wearing seatbelts, as if that might have minimized the danger when we went tumbling forward all the way down . . . to the ground. Even though I love my daughter, and at the time was attempting, with good intentions, to include her in a fun sporting activity, it was not a good idea. Because, you see, in this life you should train yourself to respond to—not what you think will happen—but what will happen unexpectedly.
Did you know that one very small event—it may not even be a mistake—can suddenly produce enormous consequences? In this incident, the small “event” was simply my feet applying the bicycle brakes to adjust speed because another small event—my son applying his brakes just ahead of us—resulted in an unanticipated shifting of weight. The “weight” that shifted (this is physics, folks) was my five-year-old precious bundle of innocence, who had been sitting on my shoulders and hugging my head (Oh, tell me about it. I shudder every time I think about this.) The law of centrifugal force was suddenly (unexpectedly) propelling us both forward, without the bike, and we continued in that mode until the ground arrested our forward progress. When I looked up at Katie, she was crying and there were little bits of gravel in her forehead. But she lived to tell about it. Check out her blog, if you like.
This was a little bit like the time when I was a kid and tried to propel a heavy object (brick) high into the air by jumping on a lever situated over a fulcrum (a wooden plank on a concrete block.) On that occasion the laws of physics demonstrated plainly that an object under the influence of centrifugal force will move in a circular path. That’s exactly what the brick did. It moved in a curved path through the air instead of straight up. Its trajectory was interrupted by my forehead. Thankfully, in that incident, it was my forehead, not my daughter’s, but of course she wasn’t even born yet since I was, oh, about eleven at that time. But I digress.
I can be philosophical about it now, like Ecclesiastes. Here’s the deal: Our character is formed not by the events we plan in life, but by our response to unplanned circumstances. In the bicycle incident, some eighteen years ago, I was expecting a certain outcome, which would have been a leisurely ride around a peaceful suburban circle. Instead, my poor judgment catapulted us both into what could have been very serious injury.
But hey, Amy Grant’s song, Angels Watching Over Me, which was popular at the time, must have been in effect. The Lord protected us. It could have been a lot worse.
Some will say we got lucky, and God had nothing to do with it. But that’s part of the lesson too. You can believe, if you want to, that God does not intervene in the physical working out of this world. Is the glass half-full, or half empty? This is my take on it: He does watch over us, and over our children, and he intervenes, especially when we ask him to, because we are his children. Sometimes, he even covers our mistakes—makes them just lessons in the school of hard knocks. Maybe I should tell you about the time my son saved me from a rattlesnake in Utah. Nah, I’ve gotta go upstairs and move some furniture or some such honeydoo thing for Pat.
Yep. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. And I’ll hear His version of it when I see Him face to face. Thank you, Jesus.