A Little Tension

My father is a bicyclist.  He is 82 and still rides his bike every week.  Now when I use the term “bicyclist” I am not referring to a person that rides his bike around the neighborhood, but rather a full-fledged, 20-speed riding, road riding, helmet donning, spandex wearing bicyclist.  If he had his way he would ride more than does but my mom keeps him in check and tries to keep him somewhere in the range of a few miles from home.

Now there is something to be said about him wearing spandex.  I do not think that God intended for a child to see their 82-year-old father in spandex but that is what I have had to endure.  As much as I tease him about the spandex thing, I have to say that I very proud of my father’s desire to stay in shape.  Without question he is in better shape than I am and I hope he will continue to ride as long as he possibly can.  

The bicycle is such a marvelous invention.  It meant freedom for me as a child.  I could ride all over town on my stingray bicycle with its banana seat and sissy bar on the back.  I even had a slick for a back tire.  It created some of my fondest memories.

That being said, I have always been intrigued with how the bicycle wheel holds together.   It’s constructed, quite magically, around a hub with a number of spokes protruding out to the wheel in all directions.   Each spoke is tightened to a “tension” that both pushes away and pulls together the wheel to the hub.  The tension is what makes the wheel turn smooth and not wobble.   Too much tension and the wheel will go out of shape.    Not enough tension and the wheel will collapse.   It’s one of the reasons a bicycle is such a magical vehicle.

As I sit and think about how the bicycle wheel is put together, I am further reminded that it is similar to my own walk with God.   Such an amazing invention and yet tension is critical for its success.   I’ve often heard, as a rider rides their bike, that they must listen for a distinct sound of a  “ping” from one of the wheels as a spoke gave way.   If they  didn’t address this quickly the wheel would “go out of true” and “pretzel”.   It’s a term they use to describe a wheel that was twisted because of a broken spoke and the tensions the other spokes still maintained on the wheel.   The wheel would deform from round or look like a pretzel as you rolled it on the axle.

The tension of each spoke kept everything round and in balance. The tension of both pulling in and pushing away was necessary for the wheel to stay true.  Tension is a beautiful thing if you understand its purpose.  For a bicycle wheel it is a must.  The same is true for my Spiritual walk as well.

And, I must tell you, for me to “stay true” there must be a tension working in my life.  The tension between a trial and trust.  The tension between fear and faith.   A tension we all feel between position and promise.   There are a number of them we could list, but they all declare that in a fallen world there is a tension that will be part of our lives, a tension that actually helps us grow.   It’s not IF you will have tension, but HOW will you deal with it?   What must you do to keep your life “true” and rolling on.

In my walk there is this tension I’m learning to live with, learning to use for my own walk.   My trust is not undermined by my trial, in fact it’s strengthened.   My love for the lost isn’t acceptance of their actions, but a love in spite of them.   There is a beauty in this tension we experience.   The prayer for all of us is to experience this tension (trials) and that our faith is found by God to be of worth and honor as we meet Christ one day.

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.                                                                 I  Peter  1:7

My hope and prayer is that you will find honor and praise in the trials you are facing today.  

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