Several years ago when the boys were just 6 months and two years old, we moved back to Omaha from Pensacola, Florida. I had decided that going out and about was definitely not worth the trouble of dodging naps and packing luggage, buckling carseats and all that goes along with lugging two miniature people around. This is where walks came in. Walks were our outings. We walked almost every single day. You get the idea.
Anyway, living in a tiny apartment on the third floor of the building while waiting for our house to be built, I looked for any excuse to go on a walk. Firetrucks racing through the neighborhood one day provided the perfect reason to go on a more interesting type of walk, all the while, posing as a young mom just minding my own business. I reasoned I could casually stroll past doing side glances, add excitement to my day, get exercise AND keep the kids entertained by explaining to them that houses could indeed burn down and other nice bedtime like stories like that. Not only that, but I could win the ‘My Day Was More Interesting Than Your Day’ game, which I rarely won at this stage in life. Not heeding my mom’s advice to ‘never chase a firetruck because you may get in their way’, I packed the waterbottles and snacks.
I lugged the boys down three flights of stairs, got the stroller and loaded the boys and we were happily on our way to help save the day. Only we didn’t. My previous hopes of walking casually past casting sideways glances were suddenly dashed. “Boys, look at the firetr…-” What in the world? The stroller came to a sudden stop and partially tipped. I looked up to see the wheel rolling across the street straight toward the firetruck. Are you serious? This wasn’t just a little fire like usual, but flames were shooting out through the roof and more firetrucks were coming. I watched helplessly as the wheel rolled. and rolled. and rolled. Finally it came to a stop partially under the firetruck, but this wasn’t my only problem.
If I let go of the stroller, it didn’t sit upright and I wasn’t entirely sure it wouldn’t tip. I could see the headline, “Mother of Two Found Crawling Under Firetruck While Children Fall Out of Stroller.” I couldn’t carry both boys across the street to get the wheel because I needed to move quickly since it was a somewhat busy road. The only thing I could do was to park the stroller in the grass so if the kids fell out, they would hopefully come out somewhat unscathed and hope that the potential fall would at least daze Josiah enough that he wouldn’t run into the street. I dashed across the street still trying to look like I was minding my own business on a casual stroll. It didn’t work very well. I retrieved the wheel and came back to the still standing stroller only to realize I still had a problem. The place where the wheel hooked in was actually broken and the only way to keep it on was to set the stroller on it. Now, this would have worked perfectly except that I wasn’t on a track – I was on a sidewalk and every single bump and dip in the sidewalk provided an opportunity for the rogue wheel to once again make a run for it which it seemed to do at every single road we crossed.
That walk really wasn’t that much fun after the wheel made it’s escape. I had to carefully push down or pull up on the stroller depending on the particular part of the sidewalk we were on. I was constantly worried that I would be left in another predicament and instead of enjoying the scenery, my mind had one sentence running through it. “I hope the wheel doesn’t fall off again, I hope the wheel doesn’t fall off again, I hope the wheel doesn’t fall off again.” Oh and the other one was, “I hope I never see those firemen again.” Although I’m sure they were preoccupied with their jobs and oblivious to the crazy mom chasing a wheel around behind them. My eyes were fixed on the broken wheel the whole time for any signs of another escape.
I think this is how so many of us live our lives so much of the time. There is THAT struggle or THAT thing that keeps tripping us up. We try to fix it the best we can and order our lives so that the wheel never comes loose. In fact, a lot of times we think we’ve conquered that ‘thing’ but then we hit a bump in the road and the wheel takes off. It may work alright if our road is completely smooth, but we all know that is not life. We encounter stress, pressure and there goes the wheel. We can mostly function, but we know that wheel will come loose given the right situation. We smile at each other as we pass by on our walks and pretend like we’re enjoying the beautiful day when really we are quite concerned about that loose wheel. For some reason, we just can’t exactly fix it.
The wheel wasn’t going to be fixed by me simply placing it back where it went. The connection was broken and it was not able to be repaired. It was so broken, the entire double stroller was heaved into the dumpster that night – all because of one little broken part. Here is where the difference lies, because of the Cross, our wheels can be repaired. That anger, bitterness, loneliness, gossip, lust, depression, insecurity, hopelessness, cynicism, prejudice, unforgiveness, past hurts or whatever it is that we struggle with, whether it be sin or a broken place in us, can be healed and set right.
Sometimes I think we believe that repentance is all it takes to be free, but I am finding that this is not true. Repentance is the FIRST step in becoming free. It is an extremely important and crucial step, but not the only one. We need to quit trying to stick the wheel back on and come to God with our wheel and tell Him that our life is broken. Maybe our WHOLE life isn’t broken anymore, but even just a broken wheel can make for a stressful walk. If the wheel keeps coming off it’s not fixed. If rage keeps happening, it’s not fixed. If lust keeps happening, the root is still there. If there is insecurity, there is still a place that needs God. If there is bitterness, the heart is still in need. If there is cynicsm, there is still a problem. You can stop your mouth for a while, but what is inside will eventually come out given the right situation. Who we are with our families and at home with the people we know the most, is a good test of who we really are. We need to ask HIM what needs to be done for our heart to be whole and healed. Often we don’t let Him go to that deeper place that He wants to transform. It requires stillness and stillness is hard.
If we’re not finding freedom in an area let’s not set the wheel back on, hope for the best and keep going. Let’s ask God to go deeper and ask Him to go to the root of what is causing our appetites to be off because until He touches that place, or our struggle in specific areas will always be there just below the surface. He doesn’t want the wheel to look fixed, he wants the wheel to BE fixed and that’s something only He can do. It may not be and probably won’t be a quick fix. Instead it will be a process of Him changing our mind and how we think through His Word; Him healing places in our hearts that we have carefully hidden rather than deal with; Him showing us how He sees us and Who He is rather than the misconceptions about Him and Who we are to Him.
Let’s not ignore the broken wheels and the places that keep tripping us up, but rather bring them to the Father Who knows how to heal and fix the cause of all things broken in our lives. He not only wants to forgive us, but He also wants complete restoration for us.
Psalm 23 (NASB)
23 The Lord is my shepherd,
I [a]shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside [b]quiet waters.
3 He RESTORES MY SOUL;
He guides me in the [c]paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the [d]valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no [e]evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You [f]have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 [g]Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will [h]dwell in the house of the Lord [i]forever.
Father, Thank You that You are the God Who sees all things. You know every part of my heart. You know every struggle, trial and temptation that I face. Forgive me for trying to fix myself on my own instead of coming to You. Forgive me for embracing my sin and brokenness rather than embracing You. I realize now that I cannot fix myself, and that You are the only One Who can restore the broken places and the sinful places in me. Please go to those broken place that need You and bring wholeness and healing to those places. Amen.
*Photo credit: By Bob Ionescu (self-made by author) [Attribution], <a href=”https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AGehweg.jpg”>via Wikimedia Commons</a>