David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Learning to ride a bike”

The Shift (2015-01-15 Daily) [Part 3 of 3]

The shift. Looking straight ahead. Letting go. Throughout my life I’ve experienced this quantum change in my state of being on both a large and a small scale. It’s the clarification of existence when I finally step out of the way and allow myself be swept away by the Spirit’s current, by nature’s grace, by creativity’s uplift, when the supernatural clicks into place and the wheels come up. I’m flying. It’s those eureka moments, the epiphanies, the awakenings, when I’m in the zone, the sweet spot of the moment, the satori, when reality sloughs off to reveal the Face of God and my reason for existence. And there’s no time I experience this phenomenon more than when I’m writing.

Not long ago I was struggling with an essay, fighting every inch of the way to put words together into sensible order. The essay stared at me, flat, uninspired, languishing in a puddle of literary drool. Then I remembered the Apostle Paul’s words in Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17 NKJV). I prayed, offering my work up to the Father and giving thanks in Jesus’ name for not only my talents and abilities, but also for the opportunities to serve the Kingdom in my gifting. Almost immediately the words started coming together on the screen. I’d shifted into the zone, and in no time I’d crafted a decent opening to the essay. Two days later I finished it.

When I worked on my novel On the Inside, a story about a writer forced to transition into his own book to kill off an unruly character, I experienced the shift many times as I transitioned into my own work to bring my characters to life. When I’ve gone back to read sections of The Epiphany of Joy, I sometimes wonder who actually wrote that book, then I remember what I told God when He gave me the assignment: “Okay, this is Your deal. I’m a conduit for Your Spirit to work through me. I’ll provide the fingers and the brain and the computer, but Your Spirit has to provide the rest.” In other words, I needed wisdom to show up at my gate in a hurry so I could complete my Daddy’s assignment. I needed to experience the shift. And God has never disappointed me.

For over thirty years I traveled through life self-focused. Despite my firm belief in God, I believed in myself more. I embraced the American way of independence and self-sufficiency as I wrestled with God over my purpose, my direction, and my bank accounts. I was fascinated—obsessed—by the power of the subconscious mind and I dutifully indoctrinated myself with cassette tapes filled with secular affirmations and messages reinforcing my self-absorption. I was number one! Then my life unraveled. My first marriage dissolved. My health followed suit. The Kingdom of David C. Hughes built on the sandy foundation of selfishness and self-sufficiency washed away, leaving me gasping in the surf of despair and depression. Then God stepped in by pointing me to chapters 30 and 40 in the Book of Job, a book I’d never read in a faded Bible I’d hardly ever opened. At that moment I experienced a profound shift, away from self-righteousness to the righteousness of God.

Since then I’ve lived that shift daily. I’ve shifted from an attitude of pridefulness to an attitude of God’s sovereignty. I’ve shifted away from faith in myself and toward a more absolute faith in God. I’ve shifted from a wishy-washy relationship with the Second Person of the Trinity to a solid, unquestioning belief in Jesus Christ as not only my Savior but my Lord. And I recognize I’m now on the cusp of another profound shift, a change that will define my life to the end, a final push to an absolute trust. I think Neil T. Anderson said it best in his book Victory Over the Darkness: “We accept what God says is true and live accordingly by faith, and this abundant life works out in our experience. If we try to make it true by the way we live, we will never get there.”[1]

I desire above all else to live each moment of my life with no hesitation about the veracity of God’s word, believing without a doubt that what God says is true, that God is always faithful to His promises. I want to continue to build my foundation on Jesus and stand on God’s Word. I confess I’m not there yet—I still have a tendency to look down at my feet—but I can touch the fringes of the shift—the confidence this hope instills lifts my heart and keeps me pedaling forward, albeit wobbly at times. Like Hannah learning how to ride her bicycle, or like my dance lessons so long ago, I’ve got to lift my eyes off the ground, look straight ahead, and keep moving.

 

Copyright © 2015 David C Hughes

 

[1] Anderson, Neil T. Victory Over the Darkness. Ventura, California: Regal Books, 2013. 83.

The Shift (2015-01-13 Daily) [Part 2 of 3]

I figured that, as a gymnast, Hannah’s keen balance would make the process of learning how to ride a bicycle easier. I was wrong. For two or three afternoons she mounted the bike and I ran alongside her, mostly holding on, but occasionally taking my hands off the handlebars and the back of her neck. She wobbled and weaved. I ran until I struggled to catch both my breath and Hannah, but still nothing seemed to click. Frustration overwhelmed me at one point. “I guess I failed as a father in this, too,” I growled one day.

“You’re not a failure,” Mary scolded me. No, I’m not. So I persisted despite the breathlessness and the pain in my hip.

As I pushed and guided and held on and let go, I noticed Hannah riding with her head down, eyes focused on her feet. “Look up,” I panted. “Look where you’re going, not down at your feet.”

“Okay, Dad,” she said, glancing up for a second, then dropping her eyes again to her nicely-tied shoes.

The focus on her feet reminded me of when I took country-western dance lessons twenty years ago. Younger and way more energetic, I looked forward to the free lessons at several of the local honky tonks. I learned the two step, the three step, and my favorite, the Fort Worth shuffle. Problem was, I had a tendency to look at my feet instead of focusing on the girl and the other couples behind her. Result: not only was my dancing style jerky and hesitant, I invariably ran my dance partner into fixed objects, like walls and other struggling dancers. It was not pretty. “Quit looking at your feet,” the instructors would tell me. I had to learn to look straight ahead and trust that my feet would do what they were supposed to do, embracing the music and ignoring my deer-in-the-headlights gaze. When I finally learned to look forward and move to the rhythm, my dancing skills improved dramatically. Girls actually wanted to dance with me. As I ran beside Hannah, I tried to convey this life lesson between great gulps of air.

But after two or three afternoons in the driveway, Hannah’s bike riding still remained jerky and hesitant, especially after she drove it off the cement and into the grass during a turn. She became one with the bike and the driveway, crashing in a tangle of pink metal and hot tears. To her credit, though, she climbed right back on and tried again. She’s persistent like her Old Man. But after a few more turns around the driveway, I was done. So was she.

“Can you put the training wheels back on now?” she asked, wheeling the bike into the garage.

“No,” I barked, glancing at the corner where I’d hidden them. “I threw them away.”

A few days later we were both ready to try again. She climbed onto the seat and placed her right foot on the pedal. I grabbed the handlebar with my left hand and wrapped the fingers of my right hand around the back of her tiny neck. The theme song from Chariots of Fire played in the background of my mind as she nodded and I began to run. When we got up to speed, I felt something in Hannah’s body shift. She settled into the trajectory, her frame relaxed, her face remained pointed straight ahead. I let go. She rode all the way to the end of the driveway as if she’d been riding a bicycle for years.

I caught up to her, helped her turn around, then let go again. We repeated this several times, then she wanted to make the turns by herself. By the end of the hour she was riding circles around me. Literally. “This is fun, Dad,” she told me recently as she rode her bike with some friends on a dirt driveway in the middle of the country. Yes it is, I thought. Yes it is.

(continued)

Copyright © 2015 David C Hughes

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