Last summer I had the opportunity to spend some time in the beautiful state of Ohio. With its verdant, rolling hills and miles of scenic roads through lush Amish farm country, Ohio is a motorcyclist’s paradise. One other thing that makes it so is Ohio’s lack of a helmet law. While young bicyclists in Ohio are expected to wear helmets, motorcyclists are free to ride bareheaded.
I admit it caused me to do a double take every time I saw a helmetless biker. Where I live, we wear helmets. I was particularly amazed at how many long-haired women and men just let their hair flow in the breeze as they rode. Wouldn’t it take hours to comb the tangles out? That feeling of freedom must be deemed worth the aggravation.
And freedom is what a motorcycle is all about. Even the freedom to ride recklessly without a helmet. Having some experience as a rider, I can testify that the thrill of facing instantaneous oblivion is definitely part of the allure. One slick spot on the road, one careless patch of loose gravel and your head could have a terminal encounter with a telephone pole, whether you’re wearing a helmet or not. Non-riders can’t imagine the gleeful liberation that this produces. It is an amazing gift to be unafraid of death. But where does this lack of fear come from? Is it a defiant, daredevil thumbing of the nose at God? Or is it a happy willingness to embrace mortality as an inevitable consequence of being human, trusting God with the outcome?
Overcoming fear is certainly part of the painful process of living and growing for everyone. No baby eaglet ever just spread his wings and flew out of the nest. They are all pushed out, flapping and screaming, to face certain death on the rocks below. But surprisingly, they fly.
I can remember my first shaky attempts at bicycle riding, how my mother held on to the back of my seat, and the fear and elation I felt when she let go. I also remember the pain of toppling over and crashing on the sidewalk. I remember the blood. But I did learn to ride a bicycle, and have had many happier memories since those early days. I have no hard feelings toward my mother for letting me go. I earned freedom and independence because of it.
Even as an adult, when going through difficult times you might feel abandoned by God. “Where is his love, now that I am sitting, bleeding, on the sidewalk? Why did he have to let go of me?” You might be tempted to give it up. The path to freedom, however, is perseverance.
Get up, get with God, and get back on your bicycle. You might feel like God doesn’t care. But in fact, he is watching over you as tenderly as ever, waiting for you to master the skills you need to ride with abandon. Take courage! Persevere! He’s got the keys to your Harley in his pocket.
Get up, get with God, and get back on your bicycle.
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