To tour by bicycle is to be vulnerable. The bicycle offers no shelter from the storm and no shelter from strangers with too much time on their hands. My mind works overtime, concocting wrong-place-wrong-time scenarios in which Debbie and I would find ourselves in harm’s way. Will we encounter the wrong kind of wildlife in our campsite? Will we share the shoulder of a busy road with a wayward vehicle? Will we break down in the middle of nowhere? Will we get lost–or attacked–in a rough neighborhood? A healthy fear that seeks safety is born, and our dance with delusional danger stokes the burning desire to discover more about our world and more about ourselves.
It seems there is a direct connection between adventure and vulnerability. You can’t have one without the other. And their companions, fear and adrenaline, show up right on time, like a reliable commuter line promising to take us to the right place at the right time.
To live life is also to be vulnerable. We have seen stark examples of the wrong-place-wrong-time phenomenon in the past week. Hurricane Sandy made landfall sometime on Monday–and with devastating effect for those who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost much. I saw one of my worst fears from this summer’s Atlantic Coast tour happen before my very eyes. What would Debbie and I have done if a hurricane had shown up while we were bicycling? Finding shelter would have presented unique challenges with people fleeing from evacuation zones. A healthy fear may have turned to fright and dread. I’m glad we avoided it. Tragically, some people were unable to avoid it. They were living in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Did Hurricane Sandy provide adequate warning to avoid disaster? Possibly for some. But one never really knows where the wrong place and the wrong time lurk. One truck driving down one street got clobbered by one large tree toppled by one random gust of wind. What were the odds? Wrong place wrong time, but thankfully the driver escaped. Many, no doubt, fled their wrong-place-wrong-time dwellings before Sandy destroyed them. All of us were reminded that life deals us cards that are beyond our control.
Even when we retreat in search of the right place right time, there is no guarantee we won’t stumble upon the opposite. How do you cope with the unknown? Are you fearful? Is your money in the right place at the right time? Or is financial calamity hiding around the next corner, ready to steal it away in the night? Do you fear letting your children sail off in this dog-eat-dog, challenging world? If we let fear rule our lives, we will seize up, like a gummed-up bicycle chain.
How do we lubricate our lives, and restore the free flow? Debbie and I turn to the Bible, God’s Word. And we pray. We aren’t about to stop living the abundant life for fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We find great comfort–and confidence–knowing God has our back. And when we meet the ultimate wrong place wrong time, He will still have our back…all the way to the other side of eternity.