My first construction job was helping my grandpa mix mortar in a wheel barrow for repairs he was doing to the little stone wall he’d built out of river rocks around the incinerator that sat between his house and the small apartment building he owned in Paso Robles, California. To this day the smell of cement being mixed brings back those memories.
He eventually paid me in riding lessons, teaching me how to ride a bicycle. He held onto the seat of the big, old Schwinn and ran along behind while I peddled laps around the incinerator enclosure. The riding lessons turned out to be pretty short-lived. The stone wall was topped with a hedge, to hide the unsightly incinerator, and you couldn’t see through it. Somewhere about the third or fourth lap, I came around the corner to find him sitting on the steps of his house, grinning from ear to ear. I know he regretted to his dying day that he didn’t have a camera on hand to capture the expression on my face!
Of course the bicycle all of a sudden went all wobbly! But Grandpa called out to me, “Hey, knock it off! You’ve been all the way around on your own once already with no problems, so there’s no reason to start having any now!” That gave me the confidence to continue riding, and as they say, I never looked back.
Grandpa had stayed with me long enough to see that I was getting the hang of it and could balance the bike alright. He apparently wasn’t too worried about the road rash I might get if I crashed on the dirt and gravel lane. He probably subscribed to the same theory as the first superintendent I worked under years later: skin grows back. So the first chance he got, he quietly let go and sat down, and left me on my own. But he did it where I wouldn’t know he wasn’t still holding on to the seat until I’d made that complete lap on my own! And he was right there to encourage me when I got scared.
I think there’s a lesson in there somewhere, maybe for bosses or journeymen or parents. Or grandpas. And for lots of folks who are ready and able to ride the bike all by themselves, but just don’t know it yet. The Lord will never leave us or forsake us. But he does teach us, and then expects us to keep on keepin’ on.
Isaiah 48:17 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go.”
Psalm 27:11 Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a level path because of my foes.
Deuteronomy 4:1; 6:7 “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
Psalm 143:8,10 Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul. Teach me to do Your will, for You ar
e my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
 in·cin·er·a·tor [inˈsinəˌrādər] – NOUN; incinerators (plural noun); an apparatus for burning waste material, especially industrial waste, at high temperatures until it is reduced to ash.
For those of you under 100 years old, back in the day most houses and apartment complexes had one of these out back somewhere. It was what we put old newspapers and other paper trash, like the occasional Cracker Jack’s box or the note from the principal you didn’t want your folks to see, into in order to save the landfills from overcrowding. Becoming grown up enough to light the trash fire was a right of passage. And let me tell you, it was a whole lot more fun dumping your old fashioned household industrial waste into a burning incinerator than it is putting stuff into a recycle container in the alley!