In light of how relatively small events coupled with overconfidence can run us off the road, leading at least to embarrassment, I offer the following true confession. Just last June, our Gray Hogs group pulled into Las Vegas with the temp at 109 (this part of the story can be found in “450 Miles of Misery” from June 23 2014), needing food and gas. In & Out cared for the former, Chevron the latter.
Our next stop, Cedar City, lay 180 miles north, then another 130 would take us to Richfield UT to meet the rest of our group. With my ST1300’s tank holding 7.7 gallons and easily averaging 45 mpg, I felt confident I could go 350 miles, and we just had 310. So I passed on gassing up in Cedar.
First miscalculation: I read the map wrong on the distance from Cedar City to Hwy. 89, and the 310 miles became 330. Still in range, though. Easy. So I passed the Mom and Pop station somewhere in Utah when the others gassed up. Yeah, I smirked. OK, more than once.
Cruising along serene farmland bisected by the Sevier River, I noticed the gas gauge dropping more than expected. Much more. The closer to Richfield the more it dropped, so I slowed. Mick flew on ahead, Brad stayed with the slowpoke. Cresting the last hill before our exit, the motor died. Not even a cough to warn me. Fortunately we could coast the last ½ mile right up to the pump. OK, I pushed it the last five feet.
But when I filled the bone-dry tank, it only took 7.4 gal. Second issue. Honda promised 7.7. That night I read the manual, and it’s 7.7--when the bike is upright, not leaning. 7.4 gal. at 45 mpg yields 330 miles. Pretty close. Not enough.
Ironically, the only bike to run out of gas on the trip was the one with the largest tank and the best mpg and the most confident driver.
Gordon Macdonald said it well several years ago, “An unguarded strength is a double weakness.” Mick, with the shortest range of all, brought an extra can of gas, but never used it. Me, with an over confidence born of the longest range, found myself falling short.
Isn’t following Jesus like that a lot? For whatever reason, experience or just chance, we’re fairly strong in an area. So we don’t guard it, and it turns and bites us in the butt. The two greatest sins of my life both occurred in a period when I was most close and intimate with God. I felt strong, grew overconfident, and fell.
Reality reveals we have a spiritual enemy who searches us for large openings. Sometimes, the small openings work best for him. That’s why Paul the apostle cautioned us to “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers “(I Timothy 4:16).
Kick Starting the Discovery
I know we often focus on strengthening our weaknesses. What are yours? How aware are you of your vulnerabilities here? But to flip the coin, what are some of your areas of spiritual strength? Have you ever fallen in them? What made you vulnerable? How often do you check them out? How involved are they when you craft a strategy to resist a temptation?