Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
– Proverbs 3: 5-6 NKJV
We were blessed with “family time” this week as our daughter, granddaughter, and oldest son spent time at our home in Indianapolis. This was the first visit of our eight-month-old granddaughter, Corrine, who is currently crawling and pulling herself up to stand. It consequently prompted many stories of our children growing up in Illinois and Ohio.
We reflected upon photos of our daughter learning to ride a bike. Do you remember learning to ride a bicycle or helping your child or sibling to ride for the first time? Once you get the hang of it, it becomes an activity that can be enjoyed for a very long time.
The evidence is without dispute as the picture shows my wife behind our daughter as she rode her first two-wheel bike with success. The instructions were rather simple, yet on first attempts not always so easy, “Hold onto the handlebars and keep pedaling.” Of course, none of our children learned to ride a bike without falling or without help.
The enjoyment and freedom that awaited them were accomplished not by complaining or quitting. “Hold on to the handlebars, keep your feet on the bike pedals, and trust your own ability to learn and go forward.”
As we face the future just days before the Special-Called General Conference, I want to encourage you to hold on and keep pedaling.
Questions have been proposed about what local churches should do after decisions are made February 23-26 in St. Louis. What should pastors do? How should we lead? What decisions are necessary (if any) for our annual conference? If I am hurting, disappointed, angry, or anxious in light of decisions at General Conference, to whom shall I turn?
Holding on to the promises of God will keep us centered and safe. Holding on to the relationships of trust in our congregations will keep us strong as we hold on to the mission of the Church.
Keep pedaling as you worship God in a spirit of thanksgiving.
Keep pedaling as you welcome newcomers to the Church and take your witness into the world. Keep pedaling as you participate in Bible study, small groups, new ministries, United Methodist Women’s Missions and United Methodist Men’s Discipleship.
Keep pedaling as “emerging leaders” shaping the future of our Church with fresh expressions of Christ’s love in the communities in which we live and work.
Keep pedaling in ministries that care for the most vulnerable in our society.
To those who are anxious and to all who are weary: holding on is not a compromise, it is a discipline. To those who are hurting or may feel unheard, the Holy Spirit and God’s grace are going before you and holding you up like a parent behind your bicycle.
The Chicago Mass Choir sings a gospel song, “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand.”
… Trust in Him who will not leave you,
Whatsoever years may bring,
If by earthly friends forsaken
Still more closely to Him cling.
Holding on is not giving up but staying focused.
Bishop Julius C. Trimble