There is a lesson to be learned every single day. I still remember the first time I went ice skating and how often I fell on the ice. I still remember the first time going skiing and tumbling down the slopes. I will never forget the first time I tried riding a bike. It was an experience that left bruises and scratches on my body. What is my point?
Isn’t it easy to forget how hard it was doing some of those things for the “first time” now that we are experts? This past week I was trying to teach Elliot how to ride his bike without the training wheels. In my mind I was thinking, “Come on son, this is so easy… anyone can do this!” I didn’t realize what I was thinking until Josiah shouted to Elliot, “Come on Elliot, look at ME… it is SO easy!” (I don’t think Josiah said this to encourage Elliot). Then I was thinking about how long it took Josiah to learn how to ride the bike without his training wheels. Then I retorted back to Josiah, “Uh hello, do you remember how long it took you?” I think Josiah got the message as he whizzed past us.
Then I started to think about how long it took me to learn to ride my bike without any assistance. I think the principle of empathy applies here. The more I was able to remember my experience with riding the bike alone for the first time, the easier it was for me to be patient and encouraging to Elliot.
Isn’t this the same principle within the biblical community? How quickly we forget our past struggles when we look at people who are struggling now? We forget how much we struggled with that specific sin. We forget how hard it was to get ourselves motivated to read the Bible and to pray. We forget the time when we lacked faith and doubted God. We forget that time when we failed God miserably. We are such strange creatures. Instead of understanding and giving grace because we know what the person is going through, we end up being more intolerant and impatient.
By the end of our time together, Elliot made some great progress. We still have some work to do but the little man is very determined to ride the bike all by himself. Maybe that is what it takes to build biblical community when we are surrounded by people who forget so easily – a determined heart that never gives up. The hope of experiencing the joy of riding will be well worth it at the end.
I don’t know who is in more pain…
Reality check! After Elliot there is one more person that needs to learn.