© Debbie Porter - 17th January, 2005
You can keep your bungee jumping
And your paragliding too!
As for jumping out of planes –
What a silly thing to do!
I'm not into things so risky;
I don't want my neck to break.
So I'll keep both feet on earth
I don't really want to ache.
But even though I'm pretty tame,
Avoiding dicey acts,
When it comes to faith in Jesus,
I will live life to the max!
~ Debbie Porter ~
There was a time in my life when the word "unicycle" simply brought to mind images of clowns and jugglers, together with the tinny pipe organ melody of circuses everywhere ... "do-do-doodle-oodle-oo-do-do-dooo.."
Yes, it wasn't all that long ago that the sight of someone on a unicycle would have caused me to do a double-take, and then wait to see if there was a show about to start.
Back then I even would have had a tiny chuckle if some "witty" soul had called out something like, "Never mind. Maybe Santa will bring you the other wheel next year!"
Or perhaps the classic, "Awww ... couldn't you afford the other wheel?"
But that all changed when our 17-year-old son, Matt, became hooked on unicycling.
Originally I thought that he wanted it to ride around the streets and just have a bit of fun. Silly me! Back then, six whole months ago, I hadn't realized that a new sport was emerging – Extreme Unicycling.
Now stop laughing – it really is one of the latest things to go "extreme" and I have to say that some of the things these fledgling unicyclist enthusiasts do, are enough to send a mother's hair white and her heartbeat racing!
They jump up things, and they jump down things – high things. They balance on precarious ledges and they grind down rails on their cranks. They walk their wheels and they glide down hills. They spin, twist and turn ... oh and yes, they do also occasionally just ride them.
They also wear things out rather quickly – both parts of their uni's as well as parts of themselves and their clothing! Even so, virtually nothing will stop them from heading back out to ride again.
My son used to be such a conventional boy – happy to watch anime or play video games. Then something happened and he went just a little "extreme." Don't get me wrong though ... he's still a terrific teenager and a great kid, but his interests have definitely developed a bit of an edge.
I now know that unicycles are not purely the domain of those with circus skills. I also know that it is not cool to hum, whistle or sing circus tunes when a unicyclist glides by. I also now know that the quickest way to aggravate a uni rider is to call out one of those very unoriginal jokes of the wheel challenged variety. The only thing I don't know, or even vaguely understand, is what the appeal is ... but then, I'm not a teenage male.
Matt is now onto his third unicycle, having discovered the limitations of the first two "cheaper" ones when it comes to his extreme expectations. When the courier delivered his dream cycle last week, he was over the moon. Even so, later that same evening I heard these words come out of his mouth...
"You know, I really wouldn't mind getting a mountain bike one day ... you can get the speed on them to really get the height and be able to jump.
Knowing how much he had spent to date on unicycles and parts, I was very quick to say, "MATTHEW! You've only just got your new uni, and now you're talking about getting ANOTHER bike? Do you REALLY want another way to hurt yourself?"
With a laugh, Matt assured me that he was talking about much later ... but I could see that look in his eye. The seed was planted and it would start growing over the weeks and months ahead.
"Why don't you take up some sort of nice craft?" I suggested, in mock exasperation. "You know, something like Extreme Cross-stitch, or Extreme Art?"
Again, my son laughed and made the comment that it would probably be a lot cheaper – something I seriously doubted, when I considered the size of the cross-stitch stash pile in the corner of my bedroom.
As Matt continued to extol the virtues of unicycling and mountain bike riding, I slipped into the bathroom to brush my teeth. Opening the packet of toothpaste, I noticed that this new brand had obviously decided to jump on the bandwagon too.
Brandishing the flashy, techno-bright tube of paste toward my rambling son, I mumbled through a mouth full of foam, "Hey, how 'bout Exthtreme Toothbruthing? Now there'th a thafe thport!"
Yes ... believe it or not, the new variety was called, "EXTREME Clean."
For some reason, there seems to be an ever-growing need for many young people to prove themselves in some way by attempting things that are beyond normal limits or expectations – to extend themselves to the utmost boundaries, and then beyond.
I still don't get it ... yet, the passion and enthusiasm they show in their desire to take a sport to the extreme is something I wouldn't mind. Although having said that, I really don't have any desire to try Extreme Unicycling in any way shape or form – although Matt does keep trying to talk me into hopping on and having a go.
Strangely enough, I don't think the Lord really wants me to do anything that may leave me in traction for the next few months. However, I do believe He wants me to be extreme in other ways; I believe He does want me to live an extreme life of faith in Him.
The danger with saying that is that some will immediately think of those people who are best described as "extremists" – people who take things way beyond God's plan, purpose and expectation for their lives, becoming legalistic to the point of graceless rigidity. That is extreme religiousness, when in fact we are called to live extreme faith in Christ, putting Him first in everything we do and say.
Extreme faith is being able to say as Paul did, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 NIV)
It is to hear the words of our Savior, who said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24 NIV)
Jesus never said that following Him was an easy choice. He lived an "extreme" life during his 33 years as a man on this earth. He calls us to do the same, and gives us the strength and ability to do just that. All He asks is that we be willing to take the first extreme step in his footsteps...
Until we finally hear those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21 NIV)
We have the opportunity to live in God's extreme love, extreme joy, extreme peace, extreme mercy and extreme grace, every single day of our lives – which, to my way of thinking, makes perfect sense...
...and a whole lot more than extreme unicycling!
* * *
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
~ Galatians 2:20 NIV ~