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Saturday, May 5th, 2001
It was a beautiful day. Many of the attendees of the Exchange Teachers League were meeting for a 10am bicycle ride around the small lakes nestled around the foot of the government buildings in the Australian capital city of Canberra. The sun shone and the autumn leaves displayed their unique colours. As Steve and I approached the rental shop for bicycles, we saw they had bicycles built for two. Neither of us had previous experience riding one of these so we were tickled at the prospect and jumped at the opportunity. With our helmets strapped in place and a few brief instructions we clambered on and began our trek. At first I felt awkward—the handlebars and the movement of the pedals were so different. In fact, as we pushed off to start the ride our first impulses drove us to find our balance. We could feel ourselves fighting each other as we were individually over-adjusting for steadiness. We knew we needed some momentum but felt awkward as we tried to get our legs to power the pedals. But in spite of the wobbling, we soon got the bike moving. The moments that followed were tenuous at best. Our next challenge became obvious as our path took a turn It took a many long seconds to make that first turn and to get accustomed to the steering but soon our wobbliness settled down and we appeared to have settled in and were making progress.
We may have appeared to be rolling well, along the path, but there was a major battle waging in me. You see, it was Steve who had the front seat—and control of the bike. Instinctively I tried to steer this way and then that way but each time I was met by unresponsive handlebars. I had no control of this bicycle as it carried me along the pathway. The compulsion to steer did not quickly diminish. I found myself concentrating so much on the urge to control the bicycle that I was not enjoying the ride or the scenery. How could I enjoy those things with World War III unleashed inside me as all those feelings and emotions were in conflict. Finally, after about 7 minutes (but seemed to be an eternity) I made the decision to surrender the handle bars and the struggle they represented. To my great amazement, the bike continued smoothly along with Steve steering. As I gained confidence, I began to notice the leaves on the trees as they jostled in the breeze. I noticed the water sparkle with delight, dancing and reflecting the sun. Then I began to play. I would lean back and to the right and to the left watching Steve compensate instinctively to my moves. The ride had become fun. Even the bumps, cracks, and edges of the path were no longer a concern. I was oblivious to the curves except that I felt the subtle change of direction. I could lean as I felt the bike lean and enjoy the ride. My new found freedom was remarkable and wonderful as I let go and let Steve direct the bike.
Now allow me to go back to those first moments after getting the bike from the shop. Remember that the bike was wobbly as we pushed off, jumped on the seats, and struggled with the pedals. We knew we needed some speed to stabilize the bike and roll easily along the path. How grateful I was that the path was level as we started. Steve and I had to work together to get momentum. I knew I needed to pushed down with the one foot and then down with the other. But to my shock these pedals seemed to have a mind of their own. As I started to push one down I found it had already gone down and the other pedal was pushing my other foot back up. Then I realized how hard Steve was working because I was actually hampering him as he worked at pedals.This affected our progress and soon made my legs ache.
As the ache in my legs grew, after only a few minutes into the trip, I decided I had better stop exerting myself on the pedals and just let my feet follow the circular motion of the pedals as Steve powered them. Ohhh, what a relief. My hands rested gently on the handlebars and my legs easily following the pedals around. But not for long. I knew this bicycle takes two individuals working together to make it an efficient mode of transportation. Slowly, I started to become aware of the rhythm of the pedals as they rotated. I gradually put some pressure on the right pedal and then at the right time I put an equal pressure on the left pedal. My awareness of the rhythm and the pressure on the pedals grew. As we met an upward grade on the path, more pressure had to be applied, matching Steve's effort. If I pressed beyond my means my muscles clearly communicated that to me. If I applied too little pressure, there were consequences—the bike would slow down. As we met a downward slope, I could sense Steve as he slowed his pedalling. Several times we are able to coast—neither of us having to work (these were my favourite times).
In time, I found the 'sweet spot' on the pedals. My sensitivity grew to the mere touch of added pressure from up front and I would follow that lead and press harder in response. When the pressure from Steve's pedal decreased, I was able to sense it and follow that lead as well. Very soon I found I was able, without fatigue to look around see the beauty of the countryside and actually enjoy this wonderful activity with more freedom than I had ever experienced on a bicycle built for just me.
This experience painted a vivid picture in my mind of what it is like to walk in the Holy Spirit. Steve represented the Holy Spirit. He is in the front seat of my bicycle. He has the handlebars that do the steering, he has the view of what is up ahead, he sees what is coming and is best able to judge the appropriate changes in course and the appropriate amount of pedal pressure that is required.
I sit behind the Holy Spirit. At first, I fought him and the bike in every way. I couldn't see and yet wanted to be the one controlling the bike. As the bike got started on it's journey, it wobbled and teetered. I did not know how to work with him in getting enough pressure on the pedals nor was I able to recognize that my handlebars were for my comfort and not for any aspect of control in this adventure. I tired my self as I tried to steer the bike to no avail and as I tried to pedal at my own speed, applying the amount of pressure to the pedals that I deemed appropriate. This only served to slow the bike when going upgrade and going too fast when there was a downgrade. The only part I did well was when the bike rolled on it's own and I could rest. Soon, the fatigue in my legs drove me to stop pedalling. Looking back I see that was the right thing to do. Now I could concentrate on the pressure that I sensed on the pedals coming from up front. As that pressure increased, I added pressure. As that decreased, so did I. WOW!! I was now having fun. Actually, it was more than fun. I also trusted the one in front, the Holy Spirit to steer around the obstacles, to go right when the path went right and left when it went left. I enjoyed not having to even enter these things into my head. He did all of the directing. All I had to do was sit back, enjoy the breeze in my face, the sun sparkles reflecting on the water and the beauty of the trees in their autumn splendour. However, I stayed in touch with that 'sweet spot' on the pedals because he was not about to do all the work. We were on a bicycle built for two and together we had a great trip.
I pray that each of us become aware of the 'sweet spot' of the Holy Spirit in our lives. May we be very familiar with the sight of his back - a good indicator that we are following him. May we respond out of rest and assurance that he is the one in control and may we relinquish control to him more quickly than I did. May we be in touch with every move he makes as he makes it and respond with great ease. May He be the one in the front seat and may we actually prefer the back seat because it is the one safely tucked under his wing. May there be a peace to be seated behind the great master, the one who sees all and knows all and is best able to take us through everything that is upon our path. And may we know His rest and joy as we ride our 'Bicycle Built for Two.’