THE DAMP CYCLE RIDE
In the middle of what was turning out to be a pretty tough week, yesterday I took the opportunity offered by a brief burst of sunshine to clear my head and ride my bike along the undercliff pass beyond Brighton Marina (on the south coast of England).
I should never have trusted the weather. No sooner had I reached the point of no return when the storm clouds gathered and the rain began to fall. Heavily. But accompanied, rather beautifully, by a rainbow. Aware that I might be falling into the kind of cliché I usually try to avoid, I nevertheless mused on what God might be saying…
Rainbows are about promises; and even though the rain might dim the brightness of the colours in the sky, the promises still hold true, right? So what might be the lesson I could learn? ‘When in a storm, keep pedaling…’ (It also crossed my mind that this blessed thought could become the start of a rather nice blog…)
Then the rain ceased and the day brightened. Lesson? OK, trouble always feels like it will go on forever, but it does end, and things do get better. (The blessèd thoughts were coming thick and fast now – even if they weren’t very original…)
But then I began to think about the substance of God’s promises. What has He actually promised me? ‘I will never leave or forsake you’– that’s a good one. ‘Commit your ways to the Lord, and He will direct your paths’… yes, that’s good, too. I need a bit of direction right now, and some divine input would really help.
Then an interesting one occurs to me: ‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.’
Now, I’m not a genius, but I am smart enough to recognize that this is not some kind of superficial transaction: that if I give God a bit of worship and praise, He’s going to give in and let me have those things I really want. No, this is a process, not a transaction. When I start to really seek Him, He will start shaping me, and my desires to reflect HIS values and HIS priorities, not mine.
Here’s my problem. On paper I want what God wants, of course I do. But am I really willing for Him to wean me away from those things I really want? I love those things. They’re really important to me. They give me joy just thinking about having them. I’m convinced they will make me happy – even if He isn’t. And surely He wants me to be happy…?
But then I become aware that there is something else in all this, something I’m not willing to admit. I think this thing will make me happy, yes. But I’m actually thinking this will make me complete.
And that’s when it hits me: the desire I have is genuine, real, and deep felt. And that’s OK. But I’m struggling to let go of it, to really let God have it. And that’s because I’m looking to gain something from this that I can only find in God. So, in fact, I’m looking in the wrong place.
And THAT’S why I need to delight myself in the Lord first. So that, whatever it is I’m asking Him for, I’m going to find what I’m really looking for in the place I should be looking for it – in HIM.
So… that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to take time to tell God that I love Him, that I appreciate His care for me, His gift of life to me, the people He has brought into my life… all the good gifts I take for granted. (I’ll even sing to Him some of those catchy worship songs with the bland lyrics that irritate me…)
And it will change me – my outlook, my priorities, my desires – even if I’m not sure how much I want to be changed. But at least I’ll be looking for the right thing in the right place.
So here’s the lesson I’ve learnt from my cycle ride: delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you what you REALLY want. And in the meantime, keep pedaling, Stuart…