Headwinds & tailwinds

I went for a bike ride Saturday afternoon. It isn't every day that I can go on a bike ride at a moment's notice. I usually have to recruit at least one additional adult! To date, I have three kids who can zip along as fast as training wheels will take them, and one who can't even peddle yet. Despite the various carriages, seats and other contraptions we've amassed to haul them along attached to our bikes, it still isn't a one woman job to convey four children plus self on a leisurely cruise through the neighborhood! With my children slashed to just two toddlers for the week, I took advantage of my new-found freedom on wheels. We set out on this blustery Saturday, with a steady wind of about 15 miles per hour and gusts far stronger than that. As I rode past the farmer's wheat field, the rustling and rushing of the wind through the grass was reminiscent of the moors of England which I've always longed to visit. The sound of the wind blowing through the trees and crops created such a whir that nary another sound could be heard. Occasionally it died down sufficiently to allow the bird songs of spring to break through. We clipped along with the wind at our back, visited several neighborhood horse pastures to see the colts and fillies of this spring's birthing, and threw rocks in the creek. I congratulated myself at being so fit as to barely notice the fifty-plus pounds I was pulling behind me on my first bike ride of the year.

Then I turned around to head home. And found, with some surprise, that I had been considerably helped along my merry way by the wind which was blowing straight at my back. And now blew straight in my face. Surprising how much wind resistance a bike trailer, two toddlers, and a rather wide and out-of-shape mama can create! We struggled on and on, mile after tedious mile (all four of them!), wondering if we would ever make it home. I had to pause a few times to walk the bike, children protesting to "Go faster!" from the back, legs like jelly. I remembered this feeling, that deep, muscle memory of countless endless bike rides home when my legs spent all their energy carrying me farther away with no thought of how I would make the return trip. I made many such trips as a child. I remember the cracked lips of cottonmouth, and the aching hips perched far too long on a skinny bike seat. I remember, yet I forget.

I do the same thing with God, and that's why he sends a little headwind my why every now I then, I imagine. I fly on my merry way away from Him, exploring, testing my wings, glorying in my strength, wit, beauty, resourcefulness, intelligence, frugality. The wind is at my back, speeding me along with a false sense of my own ability. With the wind at your back, it is easy to fly along without taking note of how far you've gone. When you turn about to head back, the wind reminds you of the long journey home. Any sin is like that: I remember going out for drinks with friends in college and never noticing how far past my limit I was until it was much too late, and the consequences had to be borne as I fought my way back to my normal, sober life. How about eating? Easy, isn't it, to put pounds on, and so very difficult to shed them. Sleep? I constantly stay up much too late and don't notice the time until I suddenly realize I have to wake up in a few short hours of interrupted slumber.

Cancer has been my headwind, recently. It reminds me how close I must draw to Christ to survive the journey home. If the wind were at my tail, I might quickly forget - I have quickly forgotten - and begin to suffer from "supermom" syndrome again. Although it's never fun to fight the wind in your face, to push hard against the peddles and make such small progress back, it is good to be reminded. This world is hard, and I am weak. I am in need. I am thankful for saving grace.