Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Interstate Bicycling Adventure

Perhaps you’re familiar with the proverbial horse that is led to water but refuses to drink. Well, shame on me for asking for advice outside of Bozeman, Montana, on TheHopeLine Tour and then deciding not to follow it. We’d been on the road 25 days and had decided to leave the TransAmerica Trail in favor of what we thought would be a better route for us. That meant we would need some help improvising our routing until we met up with Adventure Cycling Association’s Lewis & Clark Trail.

The following morning started innocently enough. We rode the I-90 frontage road from Belgrade to Bozeman following the directions I’d received the prior evening from a tech-savvy motel receptionist. Once in Bozeman, however, I began to doubt the route ahead. The interstate seemed to offer a more direct path to our intended destination, and the climb through Bozeman Pass would be much more gradual than on secondary roads. We also wanted to avoid what we suspected would be a cumbersome ride on a gravel road.

After discussing the matter, we decided to go to the local AAA office and inquire about road conditions and routes. By then, we were more or less convinced we’d use the highway, despite one person’s attempt to talk us out of it. We also wanted a tour book for upcoming routing and accommodation questions.

Eventually, we made it to the AAA office, where we had warm and engaging conversations with the local staff. We shared about TheHopeLine and our story before running another errand and then riding through downtown to see the sights. We anticipated Bozeman to be the largest city we would encounter for miles to come.

Finally, we hopped on the interstate and embarked on our trip out of town. It wasn’t long before I began questioning my recommendation to deviate from the bicycle route map the motel receptionist had so kindly provided. Traffic was more robust than on our last venture onto I-90 a few days earlier, and the shoulder became narrower and narrower the longer we rode. A gravel road would have been better.

Once on the highway, we couldn’t very well reverse our direction or our decision. As the shoulder shrank and the rumble strips disappeared, we were wedged around a couple of bends for our final ascent up Bozeman Pass, with tractor-trailers whizzing by at 80 miles per hour. Eventually, the shoulder returned to an acceptable width, but not before much anxiety and trepidation.

The interstate adventure had its redeeming qualities, among them beautiful views and a gradual climb. However, if I had known about the traffic and road conditions, we would never have gone there. The advantages didn’t outweigh the stress of tolerating the adverse conditions or the risk to our well-being.

In any choice in life, if we only knew what an option would be like, it would make our decision of whether or not to try it so much easier. We can gather information from others with more experience or research options ourselves, but there will still be factors unknown to us until we actually see them for ourselves. That’s where faith comes in. We do our best and leave the rest up to God.

God has given us free will to choose the path we travel. In His grace, He often provides us guidance to make our travels safer and more pleasurable. In hindsight, I think God had already provided His divine guidance the previous night at the motel, if only I had recognized it. Nevertheless, we get to choose. And even though we may not choose the best path God has intended for us, He can bless our journey anyway. That’s just the way He is.

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy” (Psalm 103:8 NKJV).

Adapted from Metaphors in Motion: Wisdom from the Open Road © 2016 Timothy G Bishop and Deborah L Bishop. Used by permission.

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