As I collect fat for the winter, so my mountain bike collects dust in the garage.

I haven’t ridden much since that time three summers ago when my social worker friend invited my daughter and me to go mountain biking. I figured since I owned a mountain bike, I was therefore a mountain biker. No problem.

Reasoning that a real mountain biker needs biking shoes, I purchased a pair that locked me onto my bike pedals.

Noting the shoes seemed as silly as “putting a seat belt on a motorcycle,” my wife warned me I didn’t know how to mountain bike and was going to fall dead on my face.

She’s quite the prophetess sometimes.

After only a half-mile of chasing my athletic friend and college daughter up a mountain trail, I ran out of steam and froze teetering on a rock. This was the moment my prophetess wife predicted.

With my feet locked in my pedals, I glanced in terror at the rocks below and braced for impact.

When my head cleared, I wondered two things. First, did my daughter hear what I said as I fell? And, are social workers trained in first aid?

Fortunately “no” to the former question, unfortunately “no” to the latter.

I’m not sure whether it was after that first fall or my second fall into poison oak, but I started questioning what God wanted me to learn from the mountain-
biking experience. What is your will, Lord? Do you want me to break all my bones? What wisdom are you trying to impart that I might share with others?

Soon, God’s message came to me. Amazingly, God sounds a lot like my wife: You don’t know how to mountain bike!

Although I survived this learning lesson, the mystery of my misery was compounded by a cold a few days later. Each time I coughed, my bruised rib sharply reminded me of God’s will: Learn how before you actually go. Even my chiropractor sounded prophetic — if you do this again, your insurance won’t cover preexisting idiocy.

There are those who think God’s will is discerned exclusively through Bible reading, prayer and church attendance. While I fully commend those things, I also acknowledge other aids and “prophets” in discerning God’s will for our individual lives.

For me, one of these “prophets” was the late Christian comedian Grady Nutt, who complained people sometimes describe surrendering to God’s will as something like surrendering to an enemy soldier. Nutt reasoned surrendering to God’s will ought to be more natural and simple. For instance, he said he was certain God wouldn’t want him to be a mother, and that on most days, he equally was certain God didn’t want him to be a ballerina.

Nutt’s helmet wasn’t cracked; he was dead on. It’s a full-time job, Nutt reasoned, just doing the acts of love that faith requires. One needn’t do years of selfishly sleuthing out God’s specific will for our unique situations. Doing the things we know to be right is a full-time job.

Soon after the mountain-
biking misadventure, another incident caused me to wonder whether God was talking.

This time I backed into the car of a fellow churchgoer.

“No damage,” I sheepishly reported to my wife, “but I wonder if God might 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 before you back up.”

Sometimes God’s will is all too obvious.