By: Anne Maxwell
Author Of: Grace In Ordinary Times
Life has a way of backing all of us into some sticky situations.
And, like anyone else, there’s been times when I’ve been stuck - literally - and not quite sure how to escape a tight spot.
The summer I was 5, my grandparents were on their way to our house for a weekend visit and my sister and I found ourselves looking for ways to pass the time until they arrived. In order to have the best view of their car approaching our house along the country road, we went for a bike ride. Even though I’d been told countless times not to ride my mom’s old bike without first rolling up my pant legs, I was impatient and jumped on the old-fashioned bike without a chain guard and took off.
Exactly what I’d been warned would be my fate: the cuff of my jeans eventually got caught in the chain, the wheels skidded in the dust to an abrupt halt, and down I went.
I yelled out to my sister. She circled back, hopped off her bike, and pulled at my pant leg in an attempt to free it from the grip of the chain, but couldn’t free me. The tears started to roll down my cheeks.
“Don’t cry,” she pleaded, tugging some more to no avail. “Grandma and Grandpa will be here soon or I’ll ride back and get mom and dad.”
My tears still flowed as she continued to work to ease my panic. When it was clear the only thing to do was to wait, our eyes fixed on the horizon to the south. As farm kids who had grown up never biking on pavement, we knew as Grandma and Grandpa’s green Chrysler - or any other vehicle - approached, a dusty cloud would arise. We intensely peered down that road, as if our sheer will would command a puff of dust to appear atop one of the hills in the distance. And then, with mirage-like quality, the telltale sign of dirt slowly appeared as a shadow and quietly grew into a cloud as the familiar lumbering four-door traveled closer and closer.
The mere promise that we were not going to be alone alongside the road calmed my fear. Karla wildly waved so they would forego the driveway and instead make a detour to get me upright again.
From the ground, I cried again - but this time, they were tears of relief. I can still see Grandma’s burst of action. Like a scene out of Mary Poppins with a touch of Disney-esque pixie dust, she hopped out of the car, freed the hem of my jeans from the chain, and embraced me in her arms in a matter of what seemed like seconds. She had single-handedly erased my fear and eased the grip of my panicked heart.
I learned two things on the side of the road that summer afternoon: Fear makes you feel trapped, paralyzed. But hope loosens those bonds. And sometimes, the only thing that summons courage is looking ahead, knowing that even a glimpse of love, a measure of mercy, or the touch of a gentle, helping hand can carry you through.
We all feel a little stuck right now. Many long afternoons have come and gone without even a hint of dust appearing in the distance. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still gazing at the horizon with hope in my heart.
And in God’s time, I’ll dust off, stand up, and ride again.
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