Do you remember episodes of The Andy Griffith Show when Andy would get after Opie for doing something wrong? Andy would sit Opie down and give a lecture on why what he did was wrong. And then Opie would tell Andy the whole story and Andy would feel like a dunce because his boy had done something very good. Andy, like many parents, judged his child's actions too quickly.
I did this last night.
In the picture above is my son Pete's bike. Pete will be 12 in a couple of weeks. This is the first bike he's been able to ride. He's been riding his bike for a little over a week now and doing better every day. He is taking such pride in it. It has been so good for him. My husband and I are so proud of him.
But since he has some physical and cognitive differences, I am being very careful. My goal is for him to ride to school and around our little town without supervision. In order to do that he has to cross a highway. The highway is often empty (this is rural South Dakota) but it isn't always. We do get traffic.
So, we're taking it slow (too slow for Pete). I bought him a green helmet. He named it Ripjaw. It's in the basket in the picture. And I bought him a flag, also green, and also in the picture.
I've been letting him ride up to a big white barn as many times a day as he wants. He doesn't have to cross any other roads and there's no traffic.
And though he's a bit bored with this route he's taking it several times a day and wearing his helmet every time.
Until last night.
My husband and I were standing on our porch, and here comes Pete on his bike with his helmet in the basket.
I didn't yell or get mad, but I called to him, "Pete, why aren't you wearing your helmet?"
He didn't say anything. He rode up to me, got off his bike and picked up his helmet. He said, "I did something. Look."
Inside the helmet was a small wild rabbit. It was alive but very likely wouldn't live long. One summer several years ago when my teenagers were young, we tried two or three times to save rabbits our dog Zeko had picked up in his mouth. They lasted at most two days.
But Pete was so happy. He had saved this little creature from our dog.
"Did I do a good thing?"
"Yes," I told him.
"Are you proud of me?"
"Yes!" I said.
I then cautioned him about how fragile wild bunnies are. I warned him that the bunny may very likely not live long, but we'd try.
We put him in a box with a towel, some newspaper, a tin of water, some lettuce and a carrot.
I peeked in at the bunny several times last night. He was still alive.
This morning I peeked in.
He's still very much alive. He's been eating, drinking and pooping!
Freedom is such a good thing when a person can handle it. With this new freedom my son has with a bike, he is growing emotionally like he never has been before. He saved a bunny. His legs are getting strong. He is beginning to blossom in ways he couldn't before. He wouldn't have been able to ride the bike last summer. But this summer it is absolutely perfect.
What are we doing with the freedom God has given us? It is a gift to be used to bring glory to Him. And if we allow it this freedom we've been given will deepen us spiritually, emotionally and give us a confidence in Christ that cannot be faked.
"It is for freedom that Christ set us free." Galatians 5:1a