Apply the Brakes

pedalOne Christmas my parents purchased bikes for my sister and me. I loved my bike and the freedom it granted. The block we lived on was 4 miles of long. On numerous occasions I begged my sister to go bike riding. I begged because she favored the indoors and reading the way I favored swimming and riding my bike. She rarely indulged my pleading.

A half-mile into each and every ride, I would look back to find her already walking her bike. I’d circle back and remind her of the “big hill”. At its peak, she would get back onto her bike and coast down, not pedaling, and never making it up the next hill. I, on the other-hand, pedaled as fast as I could down the hill to make it up the next. This scenario repeated the entire ride until we returned home. There my sister would swear off bike riding until I pestered her into submission for another ride.

Our driveway is a half-moon shape beginning with a small hill. It allows for momentum and skid-outs, if properly executed. On one of those begrudged bike rides, as we arrived back home, my sister was distracted by her lingering disdain for physical activity, hot weather, me, you name it. She crested the hill of the drive and blasted forward, ignoring the handlebar brakes. My Dad was in the yard and yelled, “APPLY THE BRAKES!” Instead, she collided into a Bradford Pear tree. It CRACKED then split in half. My Dad walked over and said, “Kid, what do you think the brakes are for?” To which she responded, “I forgot. I just forgot. I panicked.” My sister was unhurt but crying upon realizing she could have prevented the accident. My Dad inspected the tree and thought he could save it from the wound. He applied some tar and pruned what he could then we waited to see if the tree would heal; a monument to the wisdom gained.

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”

After the accident, the tree continued to appear as though it was dying but My Dad refused to give up on it. He fertilized the soil, watered it, braced it and tied it down so storms and winds wouldn’t damage it further. Trees do not heal from the inside and their injuries are always visible. A tree forms a protective “callous” around the damaged part and one could clearly see the injury on that Bradford Pear. It weathered the storms and continued to survive for nearly twenty years.

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

How many of us are nearing spiritual death because we allow ourselves to “forget” the brakes? How many refuse to stop when seeing something dangerous in our path? Who amongst us carries the wounds of embarrassment or shame and through callous behaviors push others away? Our wounds, forever inside, never fully heal because we cannot forgive ourselves.

God prune me. Take away what is damaged. Reveal yourself to me. Allow my eyes to be open for the times I should apply the brakes. Give me the wisdom to prepare for strenuous journeys with unforeseen hills and valleys. Your living word breaths oxygen into me and allows me to expend unimaginable energy and vigor for You.

Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

 Jennifer Whittaker writes devotional articles for Buck Run. You can read her work here every other week.