Bicycle Theology: The Farewell

In June of 2009 I took a risk: I rode a bicycle for the first time since the era of braces & bangs (a.k.a. junior high).

At first I was wobbly and had to re-learn the gears. With careful patience, I was soon cruising up and down hills along the Mississippi River. By the time I climbed off of the borrowed bicycle, I was making plans to purchase my own two wheels.

Later that year, I found a mountain bike that was affordable and versatile. A bike ride left me with the same feeling as a yoga class. Because I had to focus on what was right in front of me, I could easily forget what had weighed on my mind. Worries seemed to blow away with the wind against my back. I would return home with ideas for “Bicycle Theology”—musings that I wrote for this blog about encountering God in the pedaling.

Along came the year 2012. I moved from Natchez’s gravel roads to the delta’s flat soil. The bicycle made the trek north, too, but something had changed. The mountain bike was no longer comfortable. I thought about trading it in for a road bike. I thought about getting different tires. I tried to ride early each morning, but I dreaded the exercise that I once anticipated.

The truth was: I no longer wanted to ride the bike.

I wanted to walk on two feet at a neighborhood trail instead of riding two wheels around town. I put the bicycle in the storage room and laced up my sneakers.

Then my dog, Isaac, appeared. I had to learn to walk him, and he had to learn to walk me. I told myself that one day I would train him to run alongside the bike. But the more I walked with Isaac, the more clearly I could hear God speak. The wind of the Spirit that had whispered to me on the bicycle was now speaking to me at the pace of a puppy.

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:18-19a, New Revised Standard Version)

Change is difficult because it includes an ending and a beginning. As Isaiah wrote, clinging to the old prevents us from embracing the new. God is constantly presenting us with changes so that we can be more honest with ourselves. How often do we avoid risk-taking in favor of what’s comfortable, familiar, and easy?

We tend to think of change as sudden and drastic. Sometimes, change is much more gradual. God gently eases us into the new in areas as simple as our hobbies. Perhaps in these simple changes God wishes to teach us great truths.

I’m grateful that I took the risk of that bicycle ride five years ago. I’m also grateful that this summer I took another risk and said “farewell” to the bicycle that had brought me much joy and “theology.” My old bike has a new owner. What "old" part of your life might God want to use for someone else's new beginning?

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian

P.S. Before I bought my bicycle, I borrowed one from the friend of a friend who had a baby. The bike had an baby seat on the back, and another friend dared me to ride around Natchez with a doll in the baby seat. So, I did.