(For any who aren't regular readers here, Pedro the Spikey Bikey is, well...my bikey)
God has funny ways of teaching us, myriad methods of revealing who he is and what life is about. Last week, my teacher was Pedro the Wise.
I learn a lot from my time biking. I have gleaned tremendous lessons about perseverance, and about how we can do far more than we think we can sometimes. Attacking a killer hill has taught me a lot about what it means to refuse to quit. This time around, on a rather rocky stretch of single track, Pedro offered a lesson on perspective.
Now, I still have a lot to learn about navigating rocky trails. Sometimes I hit them at awkward angles. Sometimes I brake at the wrong time. Sometimes I chicken out (errr...make a wise decision?) and walk over them. But one thing I do know about navigating obstacles on a bike: where your gaze is fixed, there your front tire will go.
It isn't natural, that principle. We want to place our focus on the rock or rut we are avoiding, as if keeping our eyes on it will help us make sure we don't end up there. Stare at the obstacle, however, and you are guaranteed to feel your front tire slamming up against granite or slipping into a crevice. The trick is to not look at where you don't want to go, but to fix your gaze squarely on the one safe passage, on that narrow stretch of trail that doesn't cry disaster. It feels unnatural, like I said, but it works. Even if the back tire does it own thing, you have pretty good odds of gaining control at that point.
Nasty terrain isn't unique to mountain biking, however. Sometimes I get stressed out by the rough stretches of everyday life. I get obsessed with looking out for the million ways I could fail, all those obstacles on the way to walking the narrow road of discipleship. I want to keep my eye on them just to make sure I'm not meandering that way, but it often backfires. Like with biking, most of the time our actions follow our gaze; we act on the things we give our attention to, even if the whole point of giving them attention was for the sake of avoidance. It's like trying to clean up my thought life only by keeping an eye out for the thoughts I don't want to have. Talk about tripping over rocks; it just keeps those very things lingering in the back of my mind.
I'm not saying we shouldn't keep an eye out for stumbling blocks. We need to be aware of stretches of rough terrain in our lives. But I imagine that sometimes Jesus is standing there saying, "I want you to look toward me, not all those potential failures. Keep your eyes fixed on me, set my love always before you, and your feet will begin to follow."