We rode sometimes as far as five or six miles one way. We learned the roads far better than we would have by car. The traffic on the highways was scarce so we could easily avoid the potholes. We learned to use the center of the dirt roads. You simply couldn't plow your way through the thick white sand on the corners and edges. We also learned why lime rock roads are often called washboards. Talk about vibrations—our teeth were still chattering a half mile after we turned off of one.
We found another good reason to avoid the edges of the roads—snakes! More than once one of them jerked back from the road and slithered further into the grass it had been just about to leave. Whenever we passed a flattened rattlesnake or moccasin in the road, we gave a little cheer.
And we also learned about wind. I was reminded of it the other day when Lucas called and told me his experience with his bike and the wind. It goes like this. You are having the greatest ride of your life. You feel great. Your legs seem to fly on the pedals. You can up the gears with impunity and virtually zip down the road. Then you turn around to head back home.
Suddenly you understand why the ride out was so easy. You are headed into a wind that had formerly been at your back. You pedal harder in lower gears. Your calves and thighs burn. You begin to huff and puff. Sometimes you wonder if you are making any progress at all. And it takes you half again longer to get back home than the ride out.
When I see someone trying to navigate the trials of life without God that's what I think of—pedaling against the wind. I cannot imagine facing problems without God. What's the use of it all? You can't count on help from anyone because, like you, they are all in it for themselves. You don't believe that anything good will come from it. You are pedaling into a headwind so strong you will be lucky to even stay in the same place instead of being blown backwards. Who will listen to your cries? Who will hold you up when things get even worse? And why did it happen to you anyway? Nothing makes sense. And sooner or later, even if you get through this one, another problem will rear its ugly head and there you go again.
But with God on your side things are different--the wind is at your back. It may still be a rough ride. Life can deal you some bad moments. The French have a phrase: c'est la vie. Such is life. You can't get through it unscathed. But with God behind you, you know you have help. You have someone to lean on, to talk to, and to count on. Because you have His Word in your heart you can make better decisions. Because you pray you can feel calmer and more content. Knowing that He will send help through your brothers and sisters, through Providence, through his Holy Spirit, and because you believe He will answer your prayers, you can face the impossible and come through it far better than you might have otherwise. You know there is a reason—be it learning or growing stronger or refining your soul, you know you will be better on the other side of this affliction.
Are you riding with the wind, or against it? If you don't have that relationship with God, if you don't know Him through his revelation to us, and if you never bother to talk with him unless you want something, maybe you are headed in the wrong direction. Just because you sit on a pew, you aren't necessarily on the right road. It's easy to get bogged down in the sand corners. Just because you were once baptized into the Lord's body, you aren't necessarily a part of it now. There is a snake out there just waiting to strike at your ankles. You need to turn that bike around. He wants to help you, but He can't as long as you keep riding against the Wind.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isa 40:28-31)