I hope my column from last week about backing my SUV into a wall gives you some sense of the suffering I endure each week to come up with material for this column.
This weekend, the suffering continued as I went mountain biking. I’ve owned a mountain bike for 20 years and recently bought a new one. I don’t know why, but somehow I figured my new purchase obligated me to actually try mountain biking. So, when my hospital social worker friend, Jennifer invited me to do some real riding, I jumped at the opportunity to test my fantasy in which I thought owning a mountain bike meant I was a mountain biker.
My wife cautioned me to be careful. She knew that it was the first time I would try special bike shoes that lock onto the pedals.
“Those locking shoes don’t seem like such a good idea,” she warned. “It’s like putting a seatbelt on a motorcycle.” What happens if you have to stop? You’ll fall dead on your face.”
“Ah, I’ll be all right.” My wife really doesn’t know much at all about bicycling. “No problem,” I said, placating her worries. “I’ve got it all figured out.”
After a half mile of chasing this 26-year-old athlete up the mountain trail, this 44-year-old heart ran out of steam. In a Kodak moment right out of the Clockstopper movie, I froze precariously on a teetering rock. This would be the moment my prophetess wife predicted. With my feet locked safely in my pedals, I quickly glanced at the rocks below to realize they would my resting-place for a little while.
From my new resting spot, I was wondering two things. First, did my social worker friend hear what I said as I fell? If she were on a mission from Baptist hierarchy to find out if my cussing was as out of control, this would be an ingenious test.
The second thing I wondered was – Do social workers get first aid training? As she extended her hand without so much as a cold-compress, I realized the only thing she knew was how to drag me out of the way of the other bikers screaming down the trail.
I’m not sure if it was my first fall on the rocks or my second fall on poison oak, but somewhere after my third fall, I was starting to wonder what God wanted me to learn. What was His will? What wisdom was He trying to impart that I might share with you? So far, the only clues I had was a bruised rib, an exposed ego, and a cell phone that took the fall almost as badly as I did.
Amazingly, some people have called me dense, but sometime after I saw my fearless friend fly over her handlebars cracking her helmet three times, God’s message began to be heard. Only thing is, He sounded a lot like my wife.
Perhaps my wife had indeed been given a message from God – “You don’t know how to mountain bike and you are too old to learn!” (45 in a few months. Send birthday checks to defray medical expenses care of your local paper.)
Adding to the mystery of my misery, I caught a cold and every time I sneeze, my bruised rib sharply reminds me of God’s will – “Learn how before you actually go.” Even my chiropractor is on His side. He told me that if I ever repeat this stupid stunt, my insurance wouldn’t cover preexisting idiocy.
Helping you to discern God’s will for your individual life is the full-time pursuit of some of the heaviest hitters in religious writing. There are those who think that God’s will is discerned exclusively through Bible reading, prayer, and church attendance. While I fully commend those things to you, I would like to add some context to the picture.
The late Christian Comedian Grady Nutt complained about people who described surrendering to God’s will like they were surrendering to an enemy soldier. Nutt reasoned that surrendering to “God’s will” ought to be something far more natural and simple. For instance he said, that he was certain God wouldn’t want him to be a mother and that on most days, he was equally certain God didn’t want him to be a ballerina.
Nutt’s helmet was not cracked – he was dead on. It’s a full time job, the Nutt reasoned, just doing the acts of love required to be one of his followers without spending years selfishly sleuthing out His specific will for my situation. Doing the things that you know to be right is what Jesus described as seeking the Kingdom of God . If you seek first that Kingdom, Jesus added, all the important things would be added.
Incidentally, I did the SUV thing again into the car of fellow church-goer at a huge church where we are considering membership. “No damage, I sheepishly reported to my wife, “but God must be telling us to look for another church.” Again the prophetess spoke. “I think God is trying to tell you to check ALL your mirrors.” Her His will can be so obvious.
Readers have suggested I publish a book of my columns, but I doubt if I can afford the injuries and accidents needed to fill an entire book. I’m currently seeking God’s will on the matter.