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The View from the Back (reprise)

This article was originally published in “Home Life” magazine in April, 2009.  Someone recently asked me for it and the link to the Lifeway website where it is on line is not working … so here it is.  Just a fun little background on this article.  Bill had been asking me for a long time to write down some of my stories.  I kept telling him that I liked to tell stories, not write them.  He finally said .. “just write one down, please”.  So I did.  Then I called him at work and said “I wrote one story down, now what?”.  He said … “I don’t know, call and see if someone wants it”.  So I called “Home Life” and asked if I could submit an article.  They said “No, only previously published authors could submit writing to them.  I asked how to go about that and then mentioned that my husband told me to submit something and I’m sure no one would want it and I was just trying to say that I did it.  She kind of laughed and said “go ahead and send it to me … that way you can say you did it”.  Within the hour she called and asked if she could buy the rights to the story to publish.

Here’s the irony … it was an article on SUBMISSION.  Over and over I was telling Bill “no” when he was only asking one thing.  And when I did it, look what happened.  Life is funny like that.

The View from the Back

A few years ago I was asked to teach a marriage seminar at my church.  I quickly compiled 5 of the 6 weeks of material, but for some reason, I kept postponing the writing of the lesson on submission.  It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in submission or know that it was a biblical principle laid out in God’s word; it was just that it was never a topic about which I could get excited about studying or writing.

Over and over I read the text in 1 Peter 3:1 where Peter instructed “wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands” or even more convicting, Colossians 3:18, “wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”   I consider myself a modern woman, able to think for myself and capable of taking care of myself.  I think there was just something about the word submission that well, quite frankly, it rubbed me the wrong way.

The week before I was to teach the lesson, I traveled with my husband to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary in San Francisco.  It was a trip we had anticipated for quite some time and we loved exploring and enjoying the charm and beauty of the city.  All week, in the back of my mind I kept thinking…I really need to write that lesson.  The day before we were to leave, (and two days before I was to teach this lesson that I wasn’t so sure I understood myself); I told the Lord he was going to have to give me the lesson.  And give it to me He did.

After a tour of Alcatraz on a very windy and overcast day, my husband Bill and I saw a sign advertising bike rides across the Golden Gate Bridge.  “Let’s do it!” we decided even though from where we stood there was too much fog to even see the bridge.

As we went to pay, we saw a tandem bike and decided that surely that would make our trip twice as fun (honestly I really thought we would look cute on a bicycle built for two!).  The owner of the bike shop was happy to rent the tandem bike to us, but not without some warnings and a “test drive” around the parking lot.

He began by saying…”Riding a two seater bike is a lot harder than it looks.  You’ll have a lot of fun but you really have to work at it.”  (Is that a great metaphor for marriage or what?)

His next warning was…”Let your husband do the work.  He’ll keep the wind off you and protect you on the ride…you just enjoy the view.”

So off we went.  I was fully preparing to enjoy the view when I realized that the person sitting on the back of the bike (the stoker they are called) has no brakes.  It is a strange and scary feeling to know you have absolutely no control of the bike.   We were facing a four hour bike ride where I was going to have to trust Bill completely (another great marriage lesson!).

As we were biking, several times I started to pedal faster than Bill.  It wasn’t that I meant to or was unhappy with our pace; I just got ahead of him.  And literally every time I did this, Bill’s feet flew right off his pedals.  We’d have to take a second to regroup, at which time he would remind me that I was supposed to be letting him do the work.  (I really was trying – but remember, it’s harder than it looks!)

The reward came right before sunset.  We had climbed hill after hill to reach the bridge and when we finally crossed it, it was the most amazingly beautiful scene I could have imagined.  Out of nowhere it seemed, the fog lifted, the winds died down and the view was spectacular.  The sun was sparkling off the water, ships were coasting out to sea and small boats were coming in for the night.  It was even more beautiful than the postcards in the hotel gift shop.  I was enjoying every minute of our ride and soaking in the breathtaking scenery.

I yelled to Bill (it was quite loud with cars zooming by) “isn’t this great!” to which he replied “I don’t know…I’m just trying to get across.”  And get across we did.  We took lots of pictures on the other side, enjoyed the beauty of God’s world and the pleasure of accomplishing our goal, before we headed back to return our bikes.

It got dark while we were gone and on the trip back, somehow, we hit a large cement block.  Bill literally flew off the bike, rolled on the ground but amazingly landed on two feet.  He was a little scraped up and maybe more than a little shook up, but I was still sitting on the back of the bike.  He asked how I stayed on the bike and I said (as sweetly as I could) “baby, I’m letting you take the falls…I’m just enjoying the view.”  I was really starting to like this!

When we returned the bike the owner looked at me and said “did you let him take the lead?”  When I responded affirmatively he said “and you really enjoyed it didn’t you?”

I knew right then and there God was saying to me,   “baby girl, here is your lesson on submission.”

After the ride, we celebrated by going to Ghirardelli Square for a giant hot fudge sundae.  While Bill was ordering I scribbled on a napkin the lesson I knew God had given me.  I keep that napkin in my Bible as a constant reminder that submission isn’t a bad or oppressive thing.  In fact, the original Greek word for submission, hupataso, means to come under as if to protect.  I no longer view submission as some outdated, subservient idea…although that is how I think Satan would like me to view it, but rather I prefer to think of submission  as God’s way of letting my husband take the hits and do the work and letting me enjoy the view.

As I learned, it’s not as easy as it looks. If I try to get ahead of my husband I literally knock his feet out from under him.  Although I couldn’t see what was up ahead, Bill could.  He took the wind, a bad fall, and pulled the bike up a lot of hills, but working together and letting him take the lead, actually made the ride easier on both of us.

And I’m telling you, the view from the back of the bike is great!!