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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Choosing Not to Worry

As a tractor-trailer sped by, Debbie hit a rumble strip and lost her grip on the handlebars. Her front wheel began to swivel, which almost certainly would cause her – or anyone else – to fall or swerve into the path of the dangerous traffic and ... well ... not to mince words, be run over and die an untimely death.

Cycling on the interstate may seem like an unusual place to choose to spend your honeymoon, but it was a necessary cost to move us through the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. On the fourth day of our grand escape in the Pacific Northwest, we were trying our hand at bicycle touring. I’d been stuck behind a desk for 30 years, so the radical change came as welcome relief, especially with Debbie by my side after so many years of waiting for female companionship.

However, a 17-day marriage was not what I’d had in mind when I said “I do” after 52 years as a single. All I could do was watch helplessly as the monstrous 18-wheeler roared next to us and Debbie fought for control of the bicycle. At the last second, somehow, she clutched the handlebars and righted the heavy bike, even though both tires had fallen into deep ruts in the rumble strip. Miraculously, she pedaled straight out of the strip. I still don’t know how she did it. She only weighs 120 pounds, and her loaded bicycle weighed about 80.

That one event early in our tour had christened us. And it served as a warning of just how high the cost of riding on the interstate – or any mistake on our journey – could be. It took some time for me to shake the anxiety, to slow my heart rate to normal, and to swallow that persistent lump in my throat. No one can go through a near-miss experience like that without thinking about the potential consequences of bicycling on highways. Near misses will also test your resolve to continue and maybe even modify your approach.

Nevertheless, Debbie and I were both determined to move on, wiser and better prepared. We wouldn’t allow that test to stop our journey. We also didn’t want to dwell on the potential hazards and allow trauma to rob us of the joy of our tour. There was too much of life to explore, and we’d waited far too long to discover it.

If you think too much about what might go wrong, you’ll never get anywhere. When you dwell on problems, you are worrying. And worry can steal your joy. Worry points to an imbalance between fear and faith. It’s like paying interest on a debt you don’t owe, and it’s a costly investment in something that may never happen. Keeping your concerns in proper perspective will prevent them from ruling your mental and emotional well-being – and your life. There’s Someone who would like to ease your burden. He never meant for you to carry it alone. (See Psalm 68:19 and Matthew 11:29-30.)

For Debbie and me, tiptoeing through life, constantly scanning from side to side and looking behind, will not move us as swiftly or deftly to our destination. It will only compromise our journey. Instead, we’ll try to make prudent decisions to equip and protect ourselves as best we know how. Then, we’ll move forward with confidence, because we have a Guide with us, a Higher Power who “has our back.” He straightens out our handlebars and powers our bicycles out of harm’s way when we’re not quite able to on our own. That unforgettable episode on I-84 was living proof.

“Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” Matthew 6:27 (NKJV)

Adapted from Wheels of Wisdom: Life Lessons for the Restless Spirit © 2016 Timothy G Bishop and Deborah L Bishop. Used by permission.

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