AAA maps and locals are not always reliable repositories of good information. Our group pulled out of Cortez CO early with Telluride in our sights. The ride got a bit chilly as we cruised into the town surrounded by the San Juan Mountains at 8700 ft. About 30 elk calmly grazed at the outskirts.
Needing an in internal infusion of warmth, we found Maggie’s Coffee House, only to be met by Mr. Maggie, the husband of the owner and a fellow biker. After some biker talk, he asked if we’d heard of Gateway, the hidden secret of Colorado, the best bike ride in the state. Now, Colorado’s beauty is second to none, so that got our attention. Our original route was to take 145 NW to Placerville, 62 NE to Ridgway, then 550 N to Montrose then head east to Gunnison, with a side trip to Crested Butte. He suggested changing it to 145 to 141 up to 550.
He claimed the road was designed for bikes, and the best part was a canyon with 1000 ft. walls of almost vertical sandstone, with just the road and a stream at the bottom. We even checked the map, and much was marked as scenic. Our bias is to trust the local bikers, so off we went. The results? If you put them in gambling terminology, we went bust. We traveled an extra 130 miles and had to skip Crested Butte. ALL Colorado roads are good for bikes, but only 10 miles of this one made our eyes bug out. For lunch, we stopped at the Gateway Resort, where I paid $8 for an apple and small pastry. Right after we ran into rain and hail,where one stone deftly evaded my windshield and nailed my chapped lower lip. Hence, the opening line.
Now, would we do it again? That depends. Knowing what I know now, having ridden the road: absolutely not. We missed more gorgeous country than we saw, rode three hours extra, and got ripped off at lunch. But. Being in the same situation again, not knowing the road but hearing good stuff from a local rider and the AAA map, we’d all do it in the clichéd heartbeat.
So, how does this connect to following Jesus? Think of this story as a metaphor about taking risks and failing.
Some of the best change points of my life spiritually came when I took a big risk without a glimmer of the outcome. Coming back to Christ at 23 serves as one example—the evidence leaned to God, but didn’t rise to the level of certainty. That risk paid off. Ministry choices often seemed dicey—some paid off.
Frankly, many risky choices cost us. We crash and burn. That happened with some of those ministry choices! But I’ve learned that taking risks wisely, under the guidance of God as we can best figure it out, can provide a nice pay off, one that would never have existed without the risk. And I’ve learned that, even when the risk turns out to be a loser, God’s presence and love and comfort remains. Or, even grows to match the need.
Our Garmin GPS has an annoying habit of saying “Recalculating” whenever we don’t follow its advice. When we crash and burn, we lean on God and recalculate. We don’t give up riding because we took some bad advice. We don’t give up following because it didn’t work out as we hoped.
Kick Starting the Discussion
Do you lean toward the risk-taking or security side of faith? Why? Think carefully on this one. Is it influenced by your family heritage, experiences, or what others have taught you? What risks have paid off for you? Which risks didn’t work out? What have you learned from each? What role does God play in the level of risk you’re willing to assume?