Don’t Make God Tell You Twice
By Steve Carter
With much difficulty, I crawled out of my warm sleeping bag into an early Idaho morning. Looking around I saw other cross-country bicyclists stumbling around and moving slowly while packing up wet tents and speaking through frosty breath.
Following a breakfast of around 5000 calories, the click of shoes locking into pedals signaled the start of an 88-mile day. I had always admired the classic Montana scenery, thus far only seen in movies, and looked forward to getting there. Without the burden of headwinds, I easily pedaled over 30 miles of low hills to have my efforts rewarded with a group picture under a sign welcoming all to, “Big Sky Country.” After the usual “get one with me in it,” and a careful check of traffic, we pulled back onto the narrow road and into our third state. Hello Montana!
On improved roads and in light Sunday traffic, I pedaled along in relative comfort for about 10 miles, before noticing a small rustic, “roadside cafe” sitting about 30 yards off to the right side of the road. Leaning against the building and its fence, rested about 20 bicycles along with several motorcycles.
An early lunch called out, so I whipped in and parked against a tree. After the usual tossing of gloves into my helmet, I sauntered toward the building and drew up short after reading a sign nailed to the door! This notice featured a revolver pointing at me which read “We don’t call 911 in Montana.” I could tell from the general look of the place that these folks weren’t kidding and would make me “past tense” at the first sign of trouble! So, walking softly and with a smile on my face, I stepped in and checked the place out.
Being careful to do nothing that would offend anyone, I closed the door while looking around in four directions at once. With the background filled with the sight and sound of some very large people (most of which had more tattoos than teeth) playing pool, I asked a couple of fellow travelers to fill me in on the details. They told me the food was ok, the service was slow, and the prices were high.
Call it “scaredy-cat” if you want, but along with the report from my friends, I suddenly had a vision of a barroom brawl (you know like we’ve all seen on TV) that included broken pool cues, and bicyclist being thrown through the picture window. With my appetite now completely gone, I walked quietly back across the sawdust floor, leaving quickly by the same door I came in.
Back on the road, I pedaled East while enjoying the beauty of Montana and the excitement of several Westbound motorcycles roaring by. Peanut butter sandwiches from our support van and energy bars got me through the hot afternoon, and into camp at Thompson Falls. After setting up my tent, I showered off before grabbing some supper (that’s dinner for my northern friends.)
With everything else squared away, I talked to the mechanic while he took another run at fixing my never-ending gear shifting problems. When cycling in Mississippi changing gears never presented much of a challenge. I often went several weeks and never used more than half a dozen of the twenty-one available gearing combinations The Cascade mountains were a different story. With my lightning-quick intellect, (that’s a joke) I soon found out I needed every gear I had, every day. The options were few; either find a gear low enough to get through the mountains or push the bike. My ego decided I would ride the bike all the way, so I kept working those shifters!
To get the most out of your bicycle and legs, a lot of advance planning is involved. Anyone thinking about charging up a mountain like Teddy Roosevelt running up San Juan Hill will run out of options double-quick! The only way to stay upright and ride is to use the highest gear your legs can stand. Just before the bike gets too hard to pedal, it’s time to shift to a lower one. Nothing good ever happens If your timing is off or the gear shifter is not working properly. These mishaps often lead to sliding down the road, face first, before getting hit by another cyclist. If that’s not enough, a real crowd pleaser is when, after bouncing off the bicycle center bar, you and your bike slam into the guard rail before tumbling over each other down a mountainside.
Everyone doesn’t need a cross-country bicycle ride to learn life-changing lessons. While trying to ignore all that pain involved with riding three-thousand miles, I picked up on the importance of listening to God when He comes to us in that quiet voice He prefers. That still whisper of His is what encourages us to leave our warm comfort zones and venture forth where He would have us go. Once we learn to pay attention, there won’t be as many pool-cues up-side our head and fewer mountains we must tumble down.
God will teach His followers. It’s up to us to pick the easy road by listening or we can always be wayward children and learn the hard way by choosing our own path.
I recommend listening.
Steve Carter is entering his 5th decade of Christian ministry. Steve has peddled across the continental United States twice. Mr. Carter’s email is: Msroadkill@bellsouth.net
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