I tend to learn things the hard way…. and I do mean the hard way! As you no doubt know, individuals who make poor decisions can learn tough lessons as a result. Conversely, those who choose good things can also find the learning process challenging. Let me explain.
I absolutely love to ride my bike. Several years ago, Vince bought a very nice mountain bike for me so that I could join him on his rides up Peacock Flats. Don’t let the name fool you. There is nothing flat about the path that winds its way up the mountain on the North Shore of Oahu. The first day out, I couldn’t make it up the slightest incline. Then, Vince showed me how to go from side to side on the road and I began to make progress. Unfortunately, once I got up the first hill, I ran into a pole when I was trying to turn around. Over the next month, I literally crashed my bike every time I rode with Vince. I ran into gates, fell over trying to go around the gates, and fell when my gears locked up. I continued to find creative ways to crash my bike. I was never going very fast when I crashed, but I still had cuts, scrapes, and bruises. Some minor scars remain even today. Nevertheless, despite my challenging beginnings, I kept going. I learned to love that grueling ride and felt a deep sense of accomplishment on the few occasions I actually made it all the way to the top!
Lately, I have started learning to kayak the canals and waterways around our new Florida home. Although I did a little kayaking in Hawaii and loved it, I believe I will love it here even more. However, there is one major roadblock to overcome. In Hawaii, it was quite simple to drag the kayak from the beach into the water and set off. The bigger challenge was the surf. So, unlike Vince, I only kayaked when the water was completely flat. The bonus for me here in Florida is that the water around our house is almost always flat. Perfect! The difficulty for me, however, is the entry and exit from our dock. I have fallen into the canal twice already trying to get seated in the kayak. And, although Vince recently caught a shark off the dock, I am happy to say I haven’t seen any sharks nearby on the occasions when I fell in. Thankfully, once I am safely in the kayak, I absolutely love the ride.
Vince recently mentioned he was surprised I didn’t quit when I was learning to ride up Peacock Flats. Me, too! I must say, the lessons I learned when I got up off the ground, wiped the gravel out of my scrapes, and started riding again, encourage me now as I am learning how to avoid unplanned swims in our canal. Although I wouldn’t choose them, I know I am stronger and more resilient because of the challenges I overcame in the past.
Some of the best things in life may be difficult when we first set out. And yet, we can miss so much if we don’t get back on the bike, or climb back in the kayak, and keep going in whatever pursuit we are undertaking. In addition, those challenges can teach us to depend more and more upon the Lord. Philippians 4:13 tells us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. I believe this verse is true in the bigger concerns of life, but also in these smaller ones. I know that I need Jesus to help me in EVERY area of my life.
Perhaps, like me, you tend to learn things the hard way. I hope we can learn to hold on to Jesus and press into all that He has for us. With that said, may we also recognize the difference between foolishness and what is truly of Him.