As a kid, I enjoyed riding my bike, and as a teenager it often served as my transportation. My bicycle carried me from our home outside of town to my friends, social activities and my summer job. Riding the three miles to town was a piece of cake—back then! Now however, as a woman in my fifties, who hasn’t been on a bicycle in years, the piece of cake is found on my dessert plate.
After a few weeks of riding alone I suggested we get Pat a bike too; having his company would add fun to my rides, and help motivate me to go. Soon we were both hitting the road on two wheels together. Loneliness was no longer my problem with Pat by my side. I now had another problem to contend with—such as keeping up with him. (He’s a bit more physically fit than I).
On our last ride together I became aware of the fact that he remained behind me the entire ride—an unusual occurrence—as he typically leads the way. His leading might seem insignificant, but as we rode I began to notice a difference in the pace I set, and continued to keep, with him behind me instead of out in front, or beside me.
We always seem to start out at a relaxed pace, riding next to one another, falling into a rhythm, while maintaining a comfortable speed--for me. But it is never long before he naturally finds himself out in the lead. Which suits me just fine; he's a great leader and I love to follow his lead.
However, when Pat is out in front of me it becomes incredibly easy for me to give up peddling whenever it becomes too difficult and I feel I can’t continue. There’s a hill on our road and I have yet been able to conquer it. Probably because my definition of resistance training is to resist training whenever my muscles begin to put up a fuss. For instance, when my leg muscles begin to scream, enough already on that hill, I hop off my bike and walk it the rest of the way up. And when Pat is in front of me it’s much easier to quit because he won’t see. He’s gone on ahead of me, at his own pace and by the time he notices I’m no longer behind him he’s at the top of the hill watching me walk next to my bike.
But on this particular ride we rode at my pace. I repeatedly told him he should pass me (I wanted him to pass me! I all but begged him to pass me!) He, however, refused and followed behind at a pace comfortable for me, not him. As we rode along I began to notice a shift in my determination not to quit. I pushed through every temptation to stop because I knew he was behind me, encouraging me to keep going.
You are doing great!
You can make it!
Don’t give up!
With him behind me I was also accountable. Encouraged, but accountable. I couldn’t just stop and get away with it. That was a good thing; it wasn’t an easy thing, but it was most definitely a good thing.
I realized, as we rode, how God uses people to play different roles in the lives of others. There are those who step out in front and lead by example. Others are destined to stay beside us and walk at our pace. These are the ones who are always within reach should we need them. We are in step together and that is comforting. They keep us moving at a steady pace.
And then there are those willing to fall in behind us—not rushing to step beside us as they quickly make their way past—but patiently steadying us from behind as they offer support and encouragement. They’re the ones who know what we are capable of becoming and commit to be part of our progress. They hold us accountable.
Are you leading someone, in step with someone or are you following closely from behind? Let me ask you this:
Are you where you’re supposed to be? Are you doing your part where you are?
- If you are in the lead, don’t get so far out in front that you forget to stop every-so-often to check on how those following are doing. Maybe someone is walking up the hill instead of riding because you’re not looking.
- If you are beside someone, keep the steady pace, but make sure you don’t allow complacency to settle over someone. Sometimes a nudge is needed or you may need to move ahead because it’s time to move at your own pace.
- If you are following someone from behind keep your eyes on them and become settled into their pace. Don’t forget words of encouragement go a long way in the process of moving forward.
Whether we are riding right now: in the lead, beside or behind, one thing is for certain – God has a place for us in the lives of others. As we allow Him to change our identity—one letter at a time—let’s continually ask Him to “smooth out [His] road in front of me, straight and level so that I will know where to walk” (Psalm 5:8, TPT) and then do our best to remain there.