by Shawn D. Brink
When asked to describe my relationship to God, a childhood memory comes to mind.
I was about seven, maybe a little older, certainly no more than nine. My dad, due to a pre-mid-life crisis, had become enamored with cycling. He had this Team Raleigh racing bike, which he’d purchased used, for about $300.
As for me, I had a used bike as well, but it didn’t cost anywhere near $300. Mine was an old Schwinn Stingray frame, retro-fitted with BMX handlebars and seat.
One day, we rode our bikes to Johnson Park. It was fun to ride there. I’d heard, back in the 1950s, the town had a bear on exhibit there. By the 80s, though, the bear was gone. Only the habitat remained.
The habitat consisted of a manmade mountain, covered with rocks and trees, and shrubs. The mountain wasn’t a mountain in the true sense, but more of a mound. Still, I guess it was pretty mountainous by eastern Nebraska standards. People liked to ride their bikes on that mound, so there were a lot of make-shift trails crisscrossing the place.
Well, my dad and I were riding near the top when we stopped to take a breather. I looked off to my right and saw a trail which went away before disappearing behind some overgrown shrubbery.
“I’m going to take that trail down the mountain.”
My dad looked over where I had indicated and shook his head. “That way’s dangerous. Don’t go that way.”
“I’ve taken that trail before.” I was sure I had. “It’s safe.”
My dad straightened himself up on his bike so as to be at full height, trying to see past the shrubs. “I think you’re mistaken, son.”
My dad gave up. “Why don’t you go closer and check it out?”
Well, I didn’t need to check anything out. I was certain I’d taken that trail before, and knew it was safe. Disobeying my dad’s suggestion, I bypassed the ‘check it out’ phase and started full-speed down the trail.
Everything went well until I passed those view-blocking shrubs and the trail abruptly ended. The next thing I knew, I was flying off a ten-foot-high ledge. I landed hard, my body bouncing off the bike’s frame before crashing into the ground.
“Dad,” I yelled as best I could with the air knocked from me. “Help!”
Dad got down to where I was as quick as he could. He picked me up, made sure I wasn’t severely injured, and held me until I could breathe again.
We sat there together for a bit, my dad saying very little about the mistake I’d made. After a while, we walked home pushing our bikes, as mine was no longer rideable.
I learned that day to trust my dad. He knew more than me, and in this case, he was big enough to see over those shrubs which had blocked the danger from my sight.
Years later, I realized how well that story relates to how my heavenly father treats me. You see, there have been many times in my life when I’m standing on top of the mountain with God beside me, and I see a path that looks safe.
Sometimes,Sometimes, though, God tells me not to take that path. “It’s dangerous,” he says. “Don’t go that way.”
Sometimes I listen, but other times I’m tempted into taking that trail at full speed. It looks safe after all.
Time and time again, I’ve taken those ill-advised paths which are only safe until I ride past the shrubs. By then, though, it’s too late to turn back because I’m careening off the ledge and cruising toward a hard landing.
I crash, and cry out to my father, because I am sorry for disobeying him, and I need him to save me from the mess I’ve landed in. The next thing I know, my heavenly father is there with me, at the bottom of that ledge, reaching down to help me up.
Isn’t this a great thing for those of us that believe? Isn’t it wonderful that no matter how many times we fall into sin, God is there to pick us up, brush us off, and help us out of the depths into which we’ve fallen? All we need to do is repent, and call on Him for salvation.
To be clear, I’m not pro-sin. Believers should try to avoid the temptation to take paths not endorsed by God.
But we’re all sinners, are we not? Don’t we all fall short of God’s standard? So, it’s good to know that no matter how many times we fall, God is there to pick us back up when we humble ourselves, admit our sin, and repent. This is only possible because Jesus paid our debt on the cross and rose again three days later.
Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will honor me. – Psalms 50:15 (The Bible, NIV translation).
Shawn D. Brink writes primarily speculative fiction and is building a following with five published novels to his name. He also has numerous shorter works in various publications and anthologies. For a list of publishing credits or to learn more about Shawn’s writing, please click here. Shawn is represented by Liverman Literary Agency and resides in eastern Nebraska, U.S.A.