Saturday, September 20, 2014

Struggling through gravel...

Recently Hunter and I rode our tandem in southern France on a bike/boat tour through the Provence area; dotted with the white horses of Carmague, winding river canals, fields of sunflowers, tiny French villages, and traces of Van Gough and Nostradamus. It was an enjoyable week of bike riding during the day and fellow shipping with other bikers on the boat in the evenings while feasting on French and Italian cuisine.
(Note the photos below)
One insident on the first day's ride was less than favorable and reminded me of aspects of my spiritual and physical journey.
Hunter and I ride a road bike, translated means one fit with "skinny" tires best suited for paved roads. We avoid dirt and rough roads for stability reasons and to protect our tires as well as to maintain a cleaner chain to prevent shifting problems. In fact, we own individual dirt bikes for just such occasions. But in traveling we only take our road tandem. Therefore, when our tour guide led us on a "new" route the first day, one NOT advertised in the trip description, which consisted of miles of gravel we were not, shall we say, "happy campers"! It was a struggle to ride resulting in long distances of simply getting off the bike and pushing it over the large gravel areas. Have you ever walked for a distance on gravel in clip-in bike shoes? If not, you have missed a special kind of torture! I distinctly remember trudging along with sweat running down my jersey gazing down the road thinking will this never end? It only complicated the problem when we realized we were lost with no guide "up ahead"! We had little choice but to forge ahead and finally did locate a small paved road that eventually connected our "lost" party with the main group, much to our relief. 
Some days I feel like I am "walking through gravel" as I try to cope with scoliosis back pain and tremors that NEVER stop! What happened to the smooth paved roads of youth or even middle age when I could dive for a racquet ball, bounce babies on my hip, chase little boys through the park? I mourn the loss of energy and an agile, pain free body. There are moments when I admit I just want to lie down in the gravel and feel sorry for myself but then I remember that verse in Isaiah 41:13-
"For I am The Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear (or be discouraged, or give up, or feel sorry for yourself) I will help you.""
 In contrast to the guide on our bike ride who did not do his job of planning the perfect route or of preventing us from getting lost, Jesus DOES plan the perfect route for each of our lives and we can be assured we will never get lost following his leading. 
God is sovereign. Whatever circumstance He allows to cross our path is another brush stroke on our life canvas. He truly knows what is best for His children. We may someday see the reason for the struggle or we may not. Our gravel experience on the bike certainly made our tour guide more aware of the future road surfaces and taught him to keep his group together to avoid any more "lost sheep"! So, I guess it was all for the best!
My Parkinson's struggle or whatever struggle you are facing will "work together for good" in God's timing  and for His glory. Our heavenly tour guide knows the perfect route for each of us and He is trustworthy!