Shelter from the Storm
By Steve Carter
Along with a couple of hundred other endurance athletes, I rode my bicycle out of Billings into the brisk Montana sunrise. During a morning of anxious glancing into my mirror, I saw whipping grass and heard distant thunder closing in behind me! Having ridden in the rain all I cared anything about, I picked up the pace and sprinted twenty miles on into camp.
“Camp” turned out to be a sports complex that included a football field and baseball diamond. I hustled to set up my tent, then ran for the showers! After getting cleaned up, a gust of wind knocked me backward a time or two while I fought my way to the food line. Just as I grabbed my chow, the skies opened up and pandemonium ruled! I saw bikers headed for a shelter of any kind. I glimpsed people diving under the equipment truck, while others crawled beneath tents. In desperation, a few soaking wet people ran in three directions at once, nearly colliding with each other and making no progress at all! While dodging flying trash cans, plates of food, and unsecured tents, I laughed as real skinny bikers raced to the four corners of the earth chasing their gear.
I turned a circle looking for a place to eat and noticed several bikers running up a slight hill towards an enclosed building. Trying to save my meal, I sprinted after them, two steps at a time, into a room that had chairs and tables set up. Soon, joining a flock of drenched bikers with their wet food, in walked a party of well-dressed people. We quickly noticed refreshments and decorations setting on a counter and realized we had “crashed” a family reunion! Not wanting to impose, I quickly finished my meal and bounced back down the steps looking for another place of refuge from this Montana monsoon.
Still hungry and finding no room under the trucks, I spied a baseball dugout and ran into it like a shortstop who had just let the winning run slip through his glove! A few enterprising souls, including a fellow Mississippian, had snagged a box of chocolate eclairs and a large canister of hot chocolate for moral support. In the true spirit of “Brothers of the Road,” they invited me to partake in their stash. Being the friendly type, I sugar-loaded with the rest of the refugees, while watching things fly by!
After, the storm settled down several bikers had to backtrack in a support van to retrieve rides they had abandoned on the roadside. I mean, think about it. Tossing a touring bicycle into a ditch is not a good thing. But when you and your bicycle both end up in a ditch, compliments of a bolt of lightning, things are much worse! While those 10-15 hapless souls played “where did I toss my bike?” the Good Samaritans among us helped put camp back together.
Following a good night’s sleep, I crawled from my sleeping bag expecting to find some of yesterday’s misery hanging around. However, a beautiful blue Montana greeted me and after changing a flat tire (typical), I hit the road with a five-mph tail wind helping me along.
On this day I rode alone for safety’s sake on the narrow road that didn’t have a “bikers’ lane.” Suddenly an R.V. zoomed by so close that the only thing between him and my arm was a jacket. His turbulence almost knocked me over! Going down would have led to either being crushed beneath his wheels or bounced down the roadside, both of which could have killed me! I thought this bozo had not seen me, but it turned out he had tried to run me off the road! Rider conversion at the next rest stop told of this lunatic buzzing everyone, so we put the Montana State Troopers on his trail and heard nothing else from him.
Dodging rain, blazing heat, lunatic drivers, lost bicycles and the occasional leaking tent are to be expected when on this type of adventure. All this stuff fades quickly in the overall scheme of things and they don’t usually send us scampering to God for shelter. My life experience taught me it’s the unexpected, life-defining trials that either send us running to God or cause us to completely cave in under their weight. Pay attention to what I’m saying here my friends, some of this is likely headed your way!
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and crippling injuries are just a couple of things first responders suffer from. Our servicepeople, at times, are left mentally scarred, because, unlike Jesus, medical professionals can only help, rather than completely heal their sometimes-unseen wounds.
Families are left wondering “what could I have done,” in the wake of a loved one’s suicide, a broken marriage, or wayward children. The heartbreak of standing vigil by a hospital bed watching a beloved wife slip away. These and other “life-crushing events,” are usually more than partially committed believers can hold up under.
Even the “sheltered” among us, myself included, cannot comprehend the agony of parents who lost children to a deranged gunman in a Texas school or family eating lunch in an Indiana shopping mall. With Jesus, it is horrific to deal with, without Him, impossible.
Those who fail to draw close to the comfort only Jesus can offer, carry agony they were not intended to bear and cannot endure.
Shelter from the Storm-Join me there
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