When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time riding my bike. I rode to my friends’ houses. I rode to the neighborhood park. I rode with my brothers in the woods behind our house, up and down the rock hill and along the trails. I rode with my mom on days when we girls just wanted to get out on our own for a short time. When I was in high school, my boyfriend and I frequently rode bikes on sunny summer days.
Several years ago, we bought bikes to take with us on camping trips. Every now and then, I’d ride mine around our little fishing village but not often. Over the lockdown this past spring, we all lowered our bikes down from the rafters of the garage and tried to take family rides, but my bike was old, and the seat was hard and uncomfortable, and I dreaded riding it.
I think that often happens to us in life…
We have something we really enjoy, something that brings back memories of days gone by or just makes us excited and amazed, but time and commitments and life in general make us forgot. They steal away those precious moments and even the desire to recapture some of those old feelings. We use the same old excuses–I’m too busy, I’m too tired, I’m too old. We begin to see life as one big obligation, a never-ending merry-go-round devoid of fun and adventure and youthful play. We become slaves to our work, our homes, even our children. We lose that magic that life used to hold for us as children.
Think about the look of joy on a child’s face when he or she first learns to steer a bike on their own. You can almost hear that inner voice in their heads shouting, “Freedom!”
And them imagine all that she can now do with her new set of wheels. She can leave the yard. She can visit friends. She can explore her community. She can feel that excitement about doing something apart from Mom and Dad, even if Mom and Dad are at her side, because she’s the one holding the handlebars, steering the bike, turning the wheels. There are so many stages in our lives when we experience this–riding a bike, earning a driver’s license, going on a first date, getting into a college, accepting a first job, saying I do, buying a house, and holding a baby. There are so many moments in life when we feel that same childish joy, that tug at the heartstrings, that knowledge that this is new and exciting and life-changing.
And then, somewhere along the line, we lose that. We see change as a hinderance. We look at our phones more than our surroundings. We drive with the windows closed, never hearing the song of the birds or feeling the wind on our faces. We feel like there’s no more exploring, no more adventure, no more excited anticipation of what’s to come. We grow uncomfortable with things we used to love and stuck in the quagmire of our everyday lives.
I vividly remember studying for Confirmation and learning about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gift that intrigued me the most was not Wisdom or Understanding or Counsel or Knowledge or Fortitude or Piety. No, the gift that amazed me, still amazes me, was the gift of Wonder and Awe. It’s not a term we even use anymore when talking about the gifts of the Spirit. We now say, Fear of the Lord, which is my mind isn’t even close to the same thing and makes me very, very sad. Fear of the Lord is described as, “knowing that God and only God deserves our absolute trust and commitment. It means believing that God’s plan is much bigger than anything we can see, and that even when we do not understand what is going on, God is working for good. It means believing that God is infinitely wiser, more loving and more powerful than we are.”
What we were taught those many years ago goes so much more deeper and is much more profound. We were taught that the gift of Wonder and Awe is that gift which makes us catch our breath at the sight of shooting star, that causes us to stop what we’re doing to watch a butterfly in flight, that forms a lump in our throat as we watch the sunrise, or when we hold our breath at seeing the Rocky Mountains or the Grand Canyon for the first time.
It’s more than trusting or believing in God. It’s marveling at and appreciating all that He has given us. It’s trusting that the God who created all of the wonders of the world created us and loves us and wants us to have all things that are good.
About a month ago, Ken came home with a gift for me–a brand new bike with a comfortable seat, just the right height for me (because I am the height-challenged one in the family). Every night after dinner, you’ll see me out on my bike. Sometimes Ken is with me, sometimes it’s Katie, and sometimes I’m alone. I’ve explored roads and lanes and hidden coves that I never knew existed in the almost twenty years we’ve lived here. I’ve heard birds I’ve never heard, seen more deer than I can count, and even watched one evening as a red fox eyed me warily and then continued on his twilight search for food. I’ve watched the sun sink down behind the trees and observed herons take flight. Around every bend is the opportunity for something new and exciting, just like the first time I set out on my bike as a child and just like every other milestone I hit as I grew older.
I’ve spent the past 36 years of my life trying to never lose that sense of Wonder and Awe I learned about in the 8th grade. There have been many times when I’ve let life blind me to what really matters and make me unseeing of the forest through the trees. Isn’t it amazing when God sends us a little message, as sign of some sort to remind us to step back, take a breath, and ogle at all that He has done for us and given to us? It’s at those precious moments when I think of the gift of Wonder and Awe and realize how easy it is to discover that awesome feeling. In fact, it’s just like riding a bike.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).