By Lisa Huddleston
“So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!” (Hebrews 12:12-13, MSG)
I don’t know what’s gotten into us. After 27 years of fairly sedate living, Chuck and I have been bitten by an adventure bug. It’s still a rather small infection, but it appears to be spreading, and we have been exhibiting some erratic behavior. It started on vacation when I decided to kayak in the ocean with Chuck and the kids. A first for sure, but I loved it. Next Chuck opted to buy two kayaks for his Father’s Day present prompting a day trip down the Narrows of the Harpeth, and one thing has led to another.
Two weeks ago he texted me a curious message, “I’ve found your bike!” Since I didn’t know I had a bike, I was surprised by its recovery. But, no, Chuck meant he had found a perfect bicycle for me to ride alongside his road bike. Oh boy! I was a little nervous, but we took them out on the greenway here in town, and once again I found that I loved the activity and the breeze in my hair—gently blowing through the dorkiest helmet I could buy.
Last Saturday we rode a beautiful trail called “The Virginia Creeper.” We went with my son, his girlfriend, her parents, and her 14-year-old cousin, Maurice. I was a little hesitant at the start of our 17 miles (yes, I said SEVENTEEN). I was dressed for the 100-degree weather we were experiencing in Nashville, but the Abingdon forecast was rainy and only in the 60’s. We were freezing! After finding a store near the start of the trail that had sweatshirts and knit gloves, we were ready to go.
“The Virginia Creeper” is an old railroad path that has been converted into a bike trail, and, wonder of wonders, the part we rode is all downhill! That sounded great (and it really was), but I was a little dismayed at how fast I could go without nearly constant pressure on my hand brakes. Whew! My little bike was flying at first, and Maurice was just a blur on the curvy horizon.
As we rode and became more comfortable with the experience, I finally raised my eyes from the trail to look around and was astonished by the beauty that surrounded us. Rhododendron blossoms dotted the mountainsides with blushing pink against an evergreen backdrop. Clear, racing streams ran and tumbled over gigantic rocks—sometimes right alongside the trail and other times in deep valleys that plunged to the right of our bikes.
That’s when I noticed Maurice heading for a divot that cut into the right border of our trail and dropped off to the rocky valley below us. I screamed, “Go to the left, Maurice!” Thankfully he quickly complied and disaster was avoided, but his near miss made me think. “The Virginia Creeper” was a gorgeous and easy ride as long as we stayed on the marked trail, but it was not guaranteed to be safe. We could choose to go too fast and lose control. We could ride off the trail and get lost in the mountains or soar off the edge of a cliff. We could head off alone and have no one to help us with a punctured tire (yeah—another story for another time). The possibilities for danger were many, but the great beauty of the trail, the joy of the adventure, and the time spent with those riding beside us made the experience well worth the risk.
The metaphor spoke to me loud and clear. Our lives as followers of Christ have many similarities with Saturday’s experience. We have a race to run, a marked course that has a beginning and end, and we can choose how well we will follow the path. There will be beauty, there will be pain, and definitely there will be risk. But as long as we follow his lead, Jesus will be right before us showing us the way.
I love the way the writer of Hebrews calls us to action! We have a race to run! We may need to get better prepared, to get the right equipment, and to strengthen our flabby legs and arms, but then we need to run. And we aren’t running alone. We have a team of runners around us. We have a Coach who knows the course and has been where we are. And we have a clear path to follow. What can hinder us from running this race? Only our own laziness and fear.
I’m not sure what our next adventure will be. I did jump off my bike for a few skips down a section of the Appalachian Trail last Saturday. Heck, Chuck even came up with some awesome trail names for us: Curtis and Bunny Honey. Maybe a hike is in order. Coming?