This past weekend I checked an item off my “bucket list”. The C&O canal bike path goes from Pittsburg to Washington, DC and has a stop in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Shepherdstown is a charming, hippie, college town that sits in the middle of Harpers Ferry and Antietam, two historic Civil War sights. This canal ride has always sounded fun so Bill and I put our bikes on the car and headed north. The lock on the Potomac River in Shepherdstown starts a 17-mile ride to Harpers Ferry. Riding along the Potomac in beauty and solitude was wonderful and all I had anticipated. However, we encountered a problem at mile 17. The GPS on our phones showed us we were still 7 miles from our destination. What?!? The route had us getting on busy highways and we still had to cycle back. This was beginning to be more than we had bargained for. We had a “committee meeting” and reluctantly decided we needed to turn around and return to Harpers Ferry by car.
One mile after we turned around we passed a guy, which was a rarity on that day. As we were pedaling by we stopped, hoping to clarify our confusion and learned we were only 1-and-1/2 miles from the bridge that enters Harpers Ferry. Friendly Tom said that he would lead the way and give us some background on the canal and town as he had lived here all of his life. Now a little background on our guide, Tom. To say that he did NOT look like Lance Armstrong is an understatement. He was a combination of a character in a Saturday Night Live skit, Park Ranger and commentator on the History Channel. For the next hour we heard of the convergence of three states meeting in this one spot, the confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac rivers, the rainfall in the area the last two weeks and some history of Harpers Ferry. We felt Tom had dropped from heaven to help, instruct and guide us because without him, we would have given up and turned around. How disappointing when we were so close!
I am not sure we will ever see Tom again but he taught me something new about having a guide and an instructor. Bill and I never doubted that we were in good hands as we pedaled along soaking in the beauty of the area and all we were learning. It was nice to have someone point us in the right direction and then make sure we were taken care of.
The Lord is our ultimate guide and instructor and I know this even when I am confused and cannot see the path. I struggle but I have confidence from His Word and from His faithfulness in the past.
“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.” Isaiah 58:11
Tom, our guide, has had me thinking of something else. I really “enjoyed” our bike ride because I had confidence in the one leading. The burden of trying to find our way was taken care of and made the last hour really enjoyable and even fun.
Do I “enjoy” my days as I am praying for The Lord to guide and instruct? Do I look around to see if all the bases are covered and worry that I will not make it to the place that The Lord wants to take me? What does it look like to enjoy this time of not knowing everything and everywhere I am being guided? To be honest, I’m not quite sure. I know it doesn’t mean that I have to have a smile on my face every minute or think that everything that is going on is a belly laugh. It doesn’t mean that I have to think that every word and action from me will be perfect and I do not need to put that burden on others who disappoint. I think it has to do with peace and open hands to what He is bringing into my life as He guides me in the next steps. Recently I found myself opening my hands when matters come up that seem like they are off track or not on “my” path. There can still be pain; there can still be questions but when I open my hands I am transferring my way of going down the path of life to His way. As I trust my ultimate guide and instructor, the joy and peace will come. When Jesus was facing the cross He struggled. Was there joy in that moment of struggle? Hebrews 12:2 states:
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorned the shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.”
The joy was set before Him. He also told his disciples that their grief would turn to joy. Even though joy/enjoyment might not be immediate, I can know that it will come because He has had it set before me. As I pedal on my bike, I promise to keep my hands on the handles, but with God’s grace I will keep the hands in my heart open. I can do this because He has that joy set before me today.
One thought on “Enjoying the C&O”
Lindy, I think you are gifted at writing. not too much, not too mushy, with good, solid points backed up with such encouraging scripture. You are sounding very wise to me! Your memories also evoke memories I have and encourage a good direction and point of view. Keep going!!