Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Friends Matter

Well…it has been quite awhile hasn’t it? While I think things are going quite well since my parents passing it is also obvious there is still some more of the journey ahead. Anyway Barb and I just finished a 3500 mile ride to the Florida Keys and back, with stops in Charleston and the Outer Banks and more with some great friends. To be honest I wondered how I would physically fair on such a ride since I had never attempted anything that long before. We had done rides that were 250 to 350  miles in a day before and by the end it was kind of hard getting on and off the bike. We had a great time! My bike is 12 years old so I wondered how it would do…it did fine…used lots of gas towing a trailer behind it but it was cool. Our guide, Ray, did a nice job keeping the days manageable and yet making nice progress. 

There were four of us riding down together from Kentucky and this made it enjoyable and challenging. We had some interesting moments as one bike would lose power going up large hills in Kentucky. Doing 75 or 80 and then all of the sudden he drops back a ways…then as we slow down to wait he would blast past us once he got it going again. (yes I did say 80 mph…our leaders idea…not mine;) Then…we hit Atlanta…at rush hour…I do not know why they call it rush hour when the traffic comes to complete halt. It was warm…very warm and one of the bikes clutch began to overheat so we pulled over in a divide in the highway…and sat and waited for the clutch to cool down. Now here is where I began to think about a few things. I know the guy whose bike it was begins to feel bad because he is holding us up…but not really…the traffic was crawling! But you do feel the pressure of being the guy whose holding things up. In this time as we waited for the bike to cool off we worked on another plan to get out of Dodge, I mean Atlanta. Danny, (I might as well use names here) took the lead with his trusty GPS and led us away from the traffic.

It was a moment when you realized you needed to slow down or even stop so you could come up with a better plan…to adjust and find a new way. I think life is like this…moments when it seems like we are going nowhere may be the times where we can make more progress by re-thinking our situation. And the guy who felt like it was his fault for us stopping then leads us through an unknown city to a better place. Maybe he was not holding us up but helping us reboot the system and move forward. 

So we moved along…until Ray’s trailer began swaying wildly on the highway. We all pulled over and discovered he had a flat tire. Not good when you only have two to begin with and you do not get to carry a spare on a motorcycle. We put some air in the tire and limped to the next exit. Joe had a repair kit so we looked and found the nail and did a quick repair. I found it so comforting to not be alone on this journey. How would you react to this on your own? Ray did not even know the tire was flat…Danny got his attention. Someone else looking out for you on the road…someone else to notice you have a situation going on you were not aware of. So many want to travel this journey of life alone…not to be bothered by others. Sure where you travel with friends sometimes their breakdowns becomes your breakdowns. Their emergency stops demand you stop also…but sometimes you are the one who needs to be surrounded by others who care enough to stop with you. Even if they cannot fix it, which it ended up we could not do with Ray’s tire, you are not alone as you ponder the next step. I found it refreshing that even in the breakdowns along the way there was much laughter as well as care. 

At one point I became the guy holding things up…I ran out of gas. Sigh…a half mile from a gas station…two miles from our destination that night. After a long day of riding in hot weather I run out of gas…not smart. No one said much. Ray stayed with me as Joe, Janice and Danny went ahead to the gas station. They come back with a brand new, red gas can and a gallon of gas for my bike. Of course they bungeed the red can to the back of my bike so I could be reminded of my mistake. But again much laughter and much help….traveling together…with friends. In my time of need they came through for me…no judging….a lot of teasing….my wife did have to post on Facebook my dilemma. She was hungry and I was holding up dinner:) 

I always come away from our rides feeling much wiser and much more connected. I cannot imagine not having these rides to look forward to…the conversations…the laughter…the tears. All part of the package…I tend to want to be alone…to not bother anyone and maybe even not to be bothered. In this journey we are on following Jesus…we are a body…connected by our hearts to one another. Some look at the Church like it is “the” problem…its’ leaders also. I see the Church as something miraculous that only God could have imagined…and I see so many of the leaders as people like me…broken…but being put back together by Jesus. No one is claiming perfection…only healing. Like the bikes on the trip…I can over heat…be flat…run out of gas…but as long as I am traveling in a group…I can get back on the road again. The longer I journey with Jesus the more I realize I am desperate for Him…and need His Body to walk with. As a leader I don’t think we are called to walk alone or to have all the answers. I think as a leader you have to know who you are…and who your friends are…and let them speak into your blind spots…and be a source of comfort when you need comfort.       

As John said in his gospel…there are many more stories that could be told but not enough room in one blog. He did say something like that right?