Spiritual Bicycles by Pastor Les Dennis, Fall River Baptist Church, Nova Scotia
May 23, 2021
When I was four years old, I began riding a bicycle – and I have never stopped. When I was a teenager, most of my friends put away their bicycles when they obtained their driver’s licenses. But I loved bicycling so much that I continued to ride. My love of riding a bicycle continues to this day. In thinking about a message for today, my mind began comparing riding a bicycle with living a Christian life.
A number of year ago during the winter months, when riding a bicycle was just too cold to be worth it, I would ride an exercise bicycle. I would peddle it least eight kilometers a day. The peddling was constant and there were no rest periods while coasting downhill – there were no hills in our rec room. After peddling for eight kilometers, I had not moved one centimeter. It was good for burning calories but that was all.
Our spiritual lives must not be like riding a stationary bicycle. The Lord wants us to have forward motion. He does not want us to put a lot of effort into getting nowhere spiritually. On a stationary bicycle our goal may be to complete a certain number of kilometres, but we never reach the next town.
Now let’s look at real bicycle riding. We get on a real bicycle and immediately start to move forward. In fact, if we do not move forward, we fall over—just as if we do not progress spiritually, we fall. Once we are used to riding, it is not hard to keep our balance as long as we keep progressing. The reason it is easier to stay balanced when we are moving is because we are seated above two gyroscopes. As a child I had a gyroscope, which would stand on the pointed end as long as it was spinning. When it stopped spinning, it fell over. The bicycle wheels act like gyroscopes—as long as they are turning, the bicycle stays upright. When the wheels stop, we must put our foot down or fall over. When we have a foot on the ground we are standing on our own strength but getting nowhere.
On a bicycle, we are not maintaining our balance by our own efforts, but we have the help of our gyroscopes to keep us upright. Spiritually, we are not upright by our own efforts but by the work of Jesus, who is our spiritual gyroscope. When we are progressing spiritually, it is because we are trusting Jesus to hold us upright.
When we come to a steep hill, we go more slowly and peddle harder to make the climb. When we get to the top there is a sense of relief. The harder the climb, the greater the relief. As we coast down the other side, it is kind of like a reward for the climb. That reward was made possible only by meeting the challenge of the climb. It is like being renewed in the Lord as mentioned in Psalm 23:3, which says, “He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” Spiritually, when we come to a steep hill, we are challenged by the hill to work harder. The hard work is productive only because our spiritual gyroscope keeps up right and makes our work productive.
Riding a bicycle uphill develops our physical muscles while the gyroscope assists our balance to keep us upright. As with physical riding, our “muscles” are strengthened spiritually by those steep spiritual challenges. The Lord will give us “hills” that look like they are too much for us to climb but that is never true. 1 Corinthians 10:13 assures us that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”
Let’s ask ourselves a few questions.
- Are we on the seat of a bicycle but our wheels are not turning and we fall over repeatedly?
- Are we moving forward and keeping our spiritual balance with the help of Jesus, our gyroscope?
- Do we give up when we come to a steep hill or do we meet the challenge and know that it is the Lord’s way of making us stronger spiritually?
- When we get to the top of the steep spiritual hill, do we stop and have to put our foot on the ground, or do we keep moving, allowing the Lord to refresh us with the coasting period? That coasting period is important to allow us to rest for that next uphill climb.
I grew up in the Ozark Mountains, so I am very familiar with coasting downhill, only to face another even bigger one ahead. It is only in the Lord that we will remain upright on those steep spiritual climbs. Let us keep on trusting in our spiritual gyroscope and keep the forward motion going in our Christian life.