Teaching a 3-year-old to ride a bike…and other reflections! Nathan Dring addresses the thorny issue of when to take the stabilisers off

So, I have had my contract extended. After 6-weeks of meandering musings we hit week 7 and another chance to pause and ponder. The beauty of being out with a 3-year old on a bike, is that all kinds of things are said that don’t normally come up in every day conversation, so I often have to pause and make sure I heard correctly!

For those of you that have met my daughter (or seen her starring role in any of the Moortots or Oasis Facebook LIVE sessions – see above) you’ll know she can be strong willed! If she believes something is right or wrong, she lets me know! Usually with volume!

Well, this week there was one such incident and it caught me completely off guard. As a family we were chatting about cycling. The children know I like to get on my bike and recently Shelley has been zipping about north Leeds on hers. We were chatting about when Rowan gets a little more confident on his and then (in unknown error), I dared to utter the phrase, “…and then at some point we can take your stabilisers off Daisy…”

Who knew such a seemingly positive, encouraging, future-facing comment could create such a reaction?! She was devasted at the idea, and just before the tears began she yelled at me…


I was genuinely taken aback and started to try to explain my idea…but she was gone. Off upstairs in a flurry of rage, tears and melodrama! Shelley and I looked at each – more than a little perplexed, and decided that we should park that topic for now!

Bring that whole thing into my context. My life, my walk with Jesus, my ways of thinking…and again, I see some real similarity.

God wants me to keep on learning, growing and developing. He wants me to learn more about Him, His word, His Spirit. He wants me to learn to listen for his voice speaking to me. He wants me to be braver in prayer, more confident in faith, more gracious in life. He wants to see more of the fruit and gifts of the Spirit in my life, so I can have a greater impact for His kingdom.

But to do these things and for me to grow, He might need to take off my stabilisers. Some of the things that I cling to because they have me where I am now, might need to go. It might be I have new things to learn, but to do that, I need to unlearn some stuff. There might be hurts that I am holding onto, because it helps me to justify my opinion – but also stop me moving on. There might be half-truths that I find comfortable, so there is no way I am putting them down, to pick up the full truth that challenges me to change.

I think many Christians get to a point with their faith where they get comfortable. Their belief system is now defined and as such human nature means they then filter all new information to make sure that what they hear and see reinforces their position. They have certain favourite bible verses, and perhaps haven’t looked at other bits of the bible for years. Or perhaps the opposite it true. They have studied the bible so much and know it so well, their ‘stabiliser’ has become knowledge – so there is a risk that a fresh revelation through God speaking now is unlikely!

Churches fall into this trap too. What are the things that have stabilised us in the past…well then, let’s keep them forever! Let’s weld the stabilisers to the bike so that they can never come off. They can then serve as a reminder of the good old times. We can make sure new people are educated about how good ‘those times’ were, and how they have shaped where we are now – thereby sending a second message; “Don’t mess with the things that came from the good old times!” Or, in other words, “Don’t touch our stabilisers!”

I am sure that at some point Daisy (pictured left with brother Rowan in a video shot for Church at Home) will calm down; it has been a few days and at some point the stabilisers will come off, but imagine if they didn’t.

During lockdown we have discovered so many new paths through the woods and have been on so many adventures. We won’t be able to go down these new paths or discover new ones if Daisy has her stabilisers on. We won’t be able to go as far or as fast as I will be carrying the bike. We will never get to go out as a family on bikes, as I will always be running alongside her or carrying the bike.

In short, the stabilisers that had been so helpful will actually now be the thing that limits her.

And I see this in my life. My prayer today (and every day I am brave enough) is that God will remove my stabilisers, so I mature, develop and grow – so I can go on more adventures with Him, discover new paths and go further with Him than I imagined possible!

I know they didn’t have stabilisers in Ephesus at the time Paul wrote to them, but I wonder if this is what he was getting at in Chapter 4:

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.


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