That day riding along the Oregon combined breath-taking scenery with bone-chilling cold. We’d headed west from Salem to the coast at Pacific City, then we turned north to Tillamook where we had lunch and sampled their world famous cheeses. Well, famous anyplace west of Wisconsin anyway. The beauty of one stretch forced me to shout for joy, with ocean flats on our left as trees formed a canopy over our two lane road. Clouds blocked the sun enough to give a gauzy sense of beauty, but with enough light to see it well.
In all the years of the Gray Hog touring, this road neared the top of the list. But when we turned south, the sun took a nap as the fog rolled in and the world turned gloomy and damp and cold. I then rode a Vulcan 900 light tourer, with just a windshield and no fairing, and I froze. I’ve crossed the Sierra in winter during a snow storm, but this chilled me to the bone. My buddies had mostly Goldwings with full fairings and windshields, and even they were cold.
When Lincoln City showed up, we needed coffee to provide some instant internal warmth along with lunch, and the Indian casino yielded both. During lunch, the sun woke from its nap for five miles, then went back to snoozing as we went back to freezing.
We had a target, a vacation rental in Newport. Jerry had friends in his church who offered it to us free of charge—we just had to launder the sheets and towels we used. So, being kind and appreciative bikers, we brought sleeping bags and towels to save riding time.
As we pulled into the parking areas, Jerry called dibs on the upstairs bedroom. Only fair, since he got us free lodging. After 15 minutes of figuring how to safely turn off the alarm, he ran upstairs to claim what he thought would be the master suite. Next, Mick and I walked in downstairs, and threw our bags on the two twin beds in the first bedroom. Gary came in last, and found the master suite, a large room with a king bed and its own bath.
After unpacking our bags, we went upstairs to see Jerry’s prize. No upstairs bedroom existed. A nice kitchen, marvelous great room with phenomenal views when the fog cleared, and a sleeper love seat with a pullout bed.
Yes, he got ragged about it, and soon said, “I got screwed.” Being an English teacher and author, and a long term friend who loved sarcasm, I let him know he used the wrong form of grammar. “I got screwed” is the passive voice, indicating something done to him. “Jerry, you should have used the active voice.” He grinned and acquiesced, “OK, I screwed myself.’”
God tends to turn things upside down. Jerry, so eager to get the best room, got the worst. Gary, letting all others go first, got the best room. Jesus gave his value for his kingdom: the first will be last and the last be first. But all four of us follow Jesus, and three of us maneuvered for first. We failed that test, didn’t we?
Jesus’ call for radical discipleship goes against our grain. We look out for #1, we let ambition drive our lives, and we think we’re doing OK. We’re not. You see, the story didn’t just indict Jerry, a pastor and sincere believer. Mick, an elder, and I, another pastor, got it too. A verse I used a few weeks ago comes back to haunt me—“Anything not done from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
Or, all followers of Jesus need to run each decision through the grid: am I serving myself or others? Am I trying to get ahead or yield? Perhaps the most frightening version of that question might be, “Am I serious in trying to live like Jesus?” I suspect, no, I’m convinced, Jesus would have let us all scurry for the best rooms, and taken whatever was left. Gary met that test, and got the best. Ironic, huh?
Kick Starting the Application
In what areas do you find it most difficult to go last? What in your soul causes that vulnerability? Can you come up with a strategy, for yourself, that will remind you to consider how to prioritize serving when faced with selfishness? How can you find a balance between meeting your own valid needs and considering the needs of others? Read and ponder on Philippians 4:2, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”