Lessons From the Asphalt
NOTE: I wrote this back in July, 2006 for “Bill’s Musings.” But every time I re-read it, I smile. Oftentimes, I draw on its lessons. So with that as a background, I share this with you today.
Tonight, I’m in pain. It’s 11:43 PM (7/11/06) as I type this. My left palm is aching, my right knee is dinged up, my right elbow and wrist are scraped raw, and my right big toe has a chunk missing out of it.
Well, it all started late in the day when I realized that my high-energy dog (aka “Mercy”) had not had any real exercise all day long. I didn’t have much time before I had to get going. I didn’t want to miss that dinner engagement with a dear, dear couple I’ve known for years, but if I didn’t hurry I’d be late. So I did what I have lately been in the habit of doing. I hopped on my mountain bike, wearing only an Aloha shirt (what else?), my shorts and my flip flops. Then I leashed up my ever eager canine friend for a 1-mile quickie, just to get her tension out.
About 90% through our ride, as things were moving along just swimmingly, a car pulled up next to me. It was a doctor friend who’d stopped to chat. His first words were, “Why you’re bold to be out on your bike like that with your dog pulling alongside of you!”
Knowing what he meant (he was referring to how dangerous it could be), I confidently assured him that all was well. “After all,” I said, “we’ve done this many times before, and this dog knows what to do. It’s no problem.” Then we talked some, and had a real nice conversation.
Eventually, he pulled away headed toward his home, wife, and kids. As for me, I once again just got going with my patient dog alongside of me, who by that time was very eager to get rolling.
Not 20 seconds later it happened. The Unexpected. A neighbor’s Dalmatian came out of nowhere, itching to mix it up at worst, or just play at best, with my dog. Not good. One thing you need to know about Mercy, she is a big ole’ chicken when it comes to other dogs. When she sees one, she reacts. Biting, barking, threatening, and cowering, all at the same time.
Needless to say, this collision of canines messed up my bike ride real quick. The next thing I knew I was being hurled forward, out of control, hands outstretched, surrealistically waiting to hit the ground, which I eventually did. Ouch. Hence, the aching palm, dinged up knee, and scraped up appendages.
Is there a lesson in all of this? But of course! I have to laugh when I think about it.
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)
Boy, did I have everything under control! Wasn’t I the master of the situation? My dog and I, we’ve been doing this bike-ride-dog-run thing for a long time, you see. Both she and I know what we’re doing. No problema. Hah!
I thought I was “standing.” In reality, I was setting myself up for a fall. Literally. My pride, over confidence, and self sufficiency were once again the sources of my demise.
I do this same thing in my spiritual life as well. I become confident in an area in which I’ve experienced success. My strength then becomes my weakness. I go from “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” thinking to “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” thinking to “I can do all things” thinking.
Then my Father, because of His great love for me, lets me fall of my bike. Reality Check “101” for the 500th time. When will I ever learn? I’ve come to the conclusion that I suffer from spiritual Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, I will learn, but only one day at a time. Sometimes only one moment at a time. That’s not to say that I can’t benefit from long term memory of God’s past faithfulness, because I can. But it is to say that I need daily, fresh awareness of God and His ways, or I’ll be likely to fall down. It’s sort of like D.L. Moody’s answer to the question he was asked re: his habit of constantly praying to be filled with the Holy Spirit. “Why do you pray that prayer so often, Mr. Moody?” His response: “Because I leak.”
If Moody leaked, then I’m a sieve. I need the Lord. Thankfully, I have Him. Christ dwells within me, and is completely for me. He’s for you, too!
Fortunately for me, I got off lightly. It could’ve been a whole lot worse. Broken bones, perhaps a bashed skull, who knows how bad it could’ve been? (“Thanks, angel!”)
Lessons from the asphalt. In the last two Musings, we’ve had lessons from the Vineyard.
This evening, I experienced what Matt Redman calls “Face Down Worship.” Now I know what that means.
May God bless you and keep you powerfully. Oh, how He loves you and me!
Ha, ha, Bill – good reminder. Daily, fresh awareness of God’ faithfulness – that’s what we need. We strive to become theologically sophisticated while at the same time remaining spiritually foolish. I have fallen off the bike so many times! But what’s a pastor without a few scrapes and bandages? Thanks, Bill.
I did this once on dirt-bike. The famous last words of a mother — “you’re going to hurt yourself” — still ring in my ears 10 years later. The same verse flashed through my mind a dozen or so times while I was at the ER getting stitched up. Hard, but good, lessons to learn.