Directions Inspired by God
By Steve Carter
Yesterday’s pouring rain gave me time off before my ride toward Memphis, TN. Following a day where the only thing keeping me awake was eating, I turned in early.
The following pre-dawn morning, I struggled to wake up and choked down something left over from two days before. I managed to dress before wrestling my recumbent trike into the motel hallway. Despite the rest, my legs felt as if they were packed with concrete, and I grappled with a negative attitude.
While pushing my trike through the lobby into the clean fresh air of the cool morning, my years of experience reminded me to “pace myself.” After securing my shoes into the pedals, I released the brakes and cruised into the rising sun. Soon I found myself in the rhythm of checking mirrors for inattentive drivers while comfortably gliding at 10-15 MPH. The traffic was sparse and the scenery pleasant, with no hint of the afternoon misery to come.
I had planned adequately for this day’s ride, or so I thought and felt good about it even though I had struggled with my health and stamina all week. Making good time by not stopping often worked for me as I ate protein snacks and drank sports drinks on the go. Following about three hours of steady progress, I pulled onto a gravel road to rest and check the GPS to confirm my location. Much to my dismay, the guidance system had all but drained my phone battery. Rather than risk losing my ability to communicate, I immediately discontinued my mapping aid.
As usual, the glare from sunlight and a constantly dirty cover made map reading from my phone difficult at best. With this in mind, I made some calls but did not find anyone who could help me navigate. Asking directions from “the locals” usually directed me to an interstate. Traveling on those bad boys while peddling is not only dumber than dirt, but illegal, and can only lead to trouble. Then there was always the local comedian more than willing to lead the weary traveler down a dead-end dirt road, just for kicks. Add to the list vague directions that only one growing up “around there” would make any sense of, and I just headed east and watched for a road sign pointing to Memphis.
Somewhere around noon, I noticed unexpected towns. Like catching a brick in the head, I realized “lost” defined my location. Having missed my turn (again), I decided to rest, get my bearings, and plot a new and improved path to Memphis. Low blood sugar clouded my thinking. While in Hayti, MO, I choked down a couple of half-rotten bananas and knocked back a quart of energy drink so I could focus better. This break did little to refresh me, and I got back on the road before my muscles cooled off too much.
After getting the usual useless advice, I decided to ride parallel to the interstate, I-55 South, knowing it would get me headed in the right direction. While meandering “southish” for an hour, maybe two, the sun and lack of proper nutrition took their toll. In a moment of clarity, I found myself standing on a bridge that crossed I-55.
As I looked in the general direction of Memphis, I could see two roads, one on each side of the interstate and both pointing home. After riding back and forth across the bridge for about an hour, I found myself at an impasse. Already lost, hot, hungry, and thirsty, I had no desire to chance taking the wrong road, as doing so could have been life-threatening. The words, “call the church,” echoed through my brain fog. After cleaning Missouri dust off the phone screen, I shaded it from the sun’s glare and hit speed dial.
On the second ring, Brother Reggie, whose prayer had prompted God to restore my exhausted legs just two days before, picked up. With no preamble, I said, “I am lost and need help.”
I heard Reggie’s chair slide across the floor as he headed out of his office toward his colleague, Tony’s office. “Tony,” Reggie yelled. “Steve is lost and needs our help!”
Tony picked up the phone immediately. “Where are you?” he asked.
I assured him, “I have no idea,” and we started working with what we knew…. “I’m standing on a bridge crossing I-55 about eighty miles north of Memphis.”
Tony quickly searched his computer to find a landmark to work with. Due to Missouri’s method of marking exits, it took several minutes to determine where I stood. After much work on Tony’s part, he said, “The beat-up, full-of-holes road to your right is the one you need to take.”
After finally getting off that bridge and making progress, I squeezed my hand brakes and glided to a stop at an intersection. My phone continued transmitting Tony’s voice to my hearing aid when a mother and her children pulled up and offered advice. While her children pressed their noses against the window trying to figure out what I was riding, she did her best to give me directions that “might get you to Memphis.”
At the same time, Tony insisted her advice was flawed. “Steve, don’t listen to her. Steve, that’s the wrong way!” he said, still on the phone. I bid the mother and children a blessed day and took Tony’s advice as I pulled onto the road that kept me on the straight and narrow.
This little trip into misery drove home two very important truisms when needing advice: first, get over the macho bit and ask for help, and second, avoid the folly of seeking guidance from those who don’t know what to do.
I knew Tony and Reggie, both stalwart men of God wanted only the best for me and would do everything in their power to help. This experience marked the second riding day of fighting hills and heat when I sought rescue. These brothers in Christ sacrificed their time to get me to safety.
Tony and I spoke often that afternoon, and each time, he gave encouragement and guidance, both of which I needed. Before I called it quits for the day in northern Arkansas, another devout Christian, who did not know me but followed God’s prompting, pulled over and prayed for me.
I knew, without doubt, God intended me to make it home. Tackling the tough day proved no match for three anointed warriors following His instructions and guiding me in.
Steve Carter is entering his 5th decade of Christian ministry. Steve had peddled across the continental United States twice. Mr. Carter’s email is: Msroadkill@bellsouth.net
Read more Christian News here.