Some of you may have noticed, or may notice in the future, the different looking bicycle that I'm riding. Let me tell you what happened.
I was headed in the direction of work Tuesday so I could do some prospecting for my sales job before I went in to work at the Amish Market. I was cycling rather quickly to get through the merge lane onto Gandy from I-275 (the car coming was plenty far behind me), and I moved too quickly across the lane. I lost control of the bicycle, couldn't get it back, and, making sure I landed in the grass, dismounted rather roughly.
I got up quickly, not feeling any bruises or injuries, and went to remount my bike. Well, there was no point. The front wheel was so bent that it could not move, the chain was off, and the handle bars were turned 90 degrees. I took all this in as the bus approached, going in the direction I needed, but I was more than 500 feet from the next bus stop. And there were rain clouds coming.
I contemplated just leaving the bicycle there, but that would be littering. So I dragged it along, hoping to reach teh bus shelter before the rain drenched me.
Well, I hadn't made it far before the rain started coming. I was already thinking about the conversation I had had with a missionary from our church named Sean (who serves in a hostile country in Southeast Asia) and how he had talked about going through hard trials and how blessed the end result was. I had cringed when he said this. I am in a trial (mostly of my own making) and I don't like it. And it was going to get harder?
Sean had prayed for me, and I had spent some time with the Lord afterwards, learning what Paul Svoboda means when he says to "sit at the feet of Jesus" (he's been saying that for as long as I can remember, but I've never known what he meant until now), and dreading the time to come. And it might happen that way, but the end will be blessed, so I have to say, with some hesitation: "Bring it on!" (Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song like that a few years back; it's on Declaration).
Now I was thinking, So, this is how it starts. I lose my bike, and now what? Oh well, the Lord will carry me through this, and I will be a better servant for it. Then a pick-up truck stopped (just what I had prayed for when I realized that I needed to remove my bike from the roadside) far in front of me, backed up a bit, to be sure to be out of the way of traffic, and waited for me as the rains began to come down. I walked the bike (the back wheel was still functional) up, and he asked if I had been hit (no) and where I was going (by now I just wanted to get to the Amish Market, because the rain was going to stop me from doing what I had planned, because I have lost my umbrella...again).
Thankful for this kindness, I asked the man if he was a Christian. I did this trying to see of his kindness was born of the Spirit of God, or of self-righteousness, which would damn his soul. He told me that he was a Buddhist (a white, middle-aged American Buddhist...you don't meet those every day), and that he had converted 15 years ago, but his wife had been one since 5 (presumably a parental decision for her; she was not present at this time). He asked if I were a Christian (of course, I affirmed), and said that he believed in tolerance for all religions (sorry, bro, all religions lead to Hell--Jesus gives eternal life without religion at all).
I asked him what he thought would happen to him when he died. He said, "Oh, I think I'll be reincarnated. How about you? I guess you think you'll go to Heaven?"
"Well, you know, I don't think that you have to be a Christian to be a good person."
"You're right, but I don't believe that there are any good people."
"Well, that depends on your value system."
"Well, the only value system that really counts, is that of our Creator, God, because He is the ultimate [I should have said, only] judge."
"Well, that kind of depends on whether or not you believe in a God."
"Well, if you don't believe in Him, it kinda sucks to be you, because He still exists."
Now, at this point, I had guided him to the Market, and we were pulling into the parking lot. In fact, he was pulling into a parking space. I think this influenced what happened next.
He got very angry and said, "That does mean that my faith is wrong, and I don't appreciate you trying to convert me. I don't mind you spreading the word [yes, you do], but I don't like you coming in here and trying to tell me that I'm wrong. so get your bike and get out of my car!"
I just yielded and did as he said. Some divine appointments end this way. Many of Jesus' did. Keep him in prayer, please.
Oh, the rest of the story: A few days later, Randy at the Market lent me his bike. He said that he would try to find me one, but I could use his until he goes hunting in October. It's a Mongoose, too, but it's a couple inches higher, and the wheels aren't already bent (meaning that it actually accelerates when going down hill). The shifting is different, but I'll adjust. What I really need is not a mountain bike, which is what I had and what he has, but a road bike, something that has thinner wheels, designed to reduce friction. It may not have shocks, because it isn't designed for rough terrain, like a mountain (Hey, it's only Pinellas County roads, not the rural highways of China--big difference). So, thanks for your prayers, and please keep an eye out for a bike that I could use in October (or sooner).