Jul 3, 2008, 9:19 AM
Some past incidents in our lives never seem to go away; in fact the furthest we can dig deep into in our memory the more vivid they become. They kind of leave an indelible stamp which like a magnet has that irresistible pull. Each time you pass that way your memory is jogged and refreshed. One such memory that invades my thoughts constantly is what I want to share with you.
As a youth, Sunday evening was something we looked forward to; our usual meeting place was at the beach what is now known as Atlantic Road. Bicycle enthusiasts flock the stretch taking it in turns to show not only that they can ride a bicycle, but some of the skills they have mastered also. It was even more interesting because probably a girlfriend was watching from a distance such prowess. Not everybody could ride and not everybody owned a bicycle however.
I can clearly remember once when I took my turn and was proudly perched on this metal horse riding down the road with my hands off the handle. Just as I rod past an expatriate who was on foot, he suddenly burst out loudly: 'Put your hand on the handle, boy!' I was so frightened that I quickly grabbed the handle back - giving up all intents to impress anybody with my skills. I straightaway reverted to my normal and conventional ride.
If he had not yelled at me I probably would have continued to bask in my glory of being able to ride hands-free. This simple incident has some valuable lessons that were not apparent then as a lad.
Many years have passed and it is only just now that upon reflection things are being seen in their right perspective. It is only just beginning to sink in. That is the privilege of hindsight. I now value the true nature of the reaction of the gentleman expatriate.
Some of our so-called exploits as youths could easily have led to our doom and even killed us. But for the grace of God, we are still alive.
Jumping off trees and rooftops today could be considered suicidal. Hanging on the back of trucks and vehicles for a free ride was more than risky and foolish. Bathing in brackish water at 'Tan Ba' off Bund Road was far from wise.
If challenged to repeat some of the deeds we committed as youths not out of the love of adventure but because we were ignorant, I wonder how many would be willing to stick our necks out, to offer our heads on Satan's guillotine. To do what we used to do yesterday as youths would mean we have not realised the transition into adulthood.
Some of us still want to live a carefree and hands-free life, but God wants to call us to order; we cannot live this way continually, as if blindfolded. The Bible warns: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith ..."(1 Peter 5:8)
Everyone is called upon to examine closely what we do and in particularly the so-called 'innocent' activities we engage in. What is it that pushes us? No sooner are we conscious that the devil - through his devious devices - is seeking to destroy us and deprive us from the blessings laid down for us from the beginning of time, the better it would be for us. We will begin to weigh things in order to determine whether they fall in line with the Word of God.
The traps the enemy puts in our way may be ensnaring and could easily fool us. No wonder Peter states categorically for us to be on the look out. No surprises! To Adam and Eve Satan presented himself as a serpent and had some sweet-coated words to tell them, in order to deceive them.
Bicycles were not manufactured for people to ride on hands-free. It is a useful instrument to promote mobility in order to cover distances.
Why use it for something else? I am sure my reaction to the expatriate's interjection at the time would have been: 'what is your business in the matter?' As long as we are having fun and enjoying 'the ride' there is no imminent danger until disaster strikes.
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." (Proverbs 14.12) God gives us constant warnings to look to him for guidance for he alone knows the way. Our Lord Jesus says. "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
God is constantly yelling at us to be careful, to be alert to change our ways of doing things because what may seem pleasant and pleasing in our eyes may not bring us joy but sorrow in the end. The dangers are not exposed to us upfront, they are veiled. The dangers of smoking and drinking alcohol may hardly show signs of any danger until we are far gone and the liver or the lungs have taken a beating. By our actions we are gradually walking into the lion's den to offer it a free meal with our lives. God is not indifferent to the choices we make to ride hands-free or hands-on. Like the expatriate he will send word to say change your habits, change your ways for you are heading for the pit or the edge of the precipice.
Therefore any sober person will take heed and seek to do what is right in God's sight - for his/her own good and benefit. "If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:7) This was the warning God himself gave to Cain prior to murdering his brother Abel.
Paul encourages us to "put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light .... let us clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (Romans 13:12-14)
The desire to do as we please is always there, it has a strong influence on our senses, but the Word of God is also always there to keep us from falling, from drifting and from wavering.
"Dear friends," says the apostle Peter, "I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul." (1 Peter 2:11) When that happens, let us turn to God who is "our refuge and strength an ever-present help in times of trouble." (Psalm 46:1)
Put back your hand on the handle, boy/girl!