Picture of a toddler's red bike leaning against a fence.

Red Bike, Blue Bike

Picture of a toddler's red bike leaning against a fence.

The other day, while walking, Hammer and I ran into our neighbor Scarlet riding her “red bike.” Now, unless you know that her previous bike was blue, had approximate 12” wheels, and had no pedals, you wouldn’t appreciate all the contrasts built into the gravitas of her announcement. I’ve been watching her outside my office window since she was 2, running along with her balance bike as her older brother rode ahead, and I was eager to hear all about the new bike! I started by saying, “I see you have PEDALS now!”  She smiled ear to ear, swiped her windblown curls back toward the edge of her helmet and proudly showed me her hand brakes as well.  This was a big deal. I was trying to remember if she had turned 4, yet, so I asked when her birthday was. She answered, “I ‘already’ [just] had my birthday.” There she was, days past 4 years old, and already flying around on her new “red bike,” with all the confidence and stability of any pre-teen speed demon.

I watched her make a few laps around the circular driveway, expressed my astonishment at her new-found speed, and told her I LOVED her “red bike.” As Hammer and I finished our walk, I realized Scarlet never once mentioned the word “new.” It was always “red,” almost as if red somehow followed blue in her mind. Remember, color, to her at this point, only represents the characteristics of the bikes—the contrasts. Blue equals feet on the ground, red equals pedals. It’s just what comes next, what she was waiting for. She was so excited to have arrived at this step!  And, prepared, too!

My kids didn’t have balance bikes growing up, but I sure wish they did. It makes so much sense!  When I was looking online to see if these pedal-less cycles had a name, I came across a blog explaining the benefits of balance bikes over training wheels that said “it’s easy to learn new skills the wrong way, especially when those shortcuts may seem like they are helping you get you to where you are trying to go quickly.” Ding, ding, ding.  There it was! The thought that tied everything back to our other recent posts on Opportunity.

As we’re moving through our own development, as adults, it’s SO easy to have such laser focus on the ultimate goal, whatever it may be for each of us, that we often want to rush the steps to get there. Our God, in his great omniscience, knows, however, whether or not we’ve got the skills he desired us to pick up properly along the way. Even when we THINK we’re ready, his grace and mercy prevail, ultimately to determine the timing of every good thing that passes through his sovereign hands.

Figurative training wheels or balance bikes, one thing I know for certain: Every event that comes our way is an opportunity to know him better and trust him more. And, when he sees that we’ve been faithful moving our feet, he always knows the exact time to give us pedals.