Our Gray Hog group rode our bikes this last September to the Northwest--southern Washington, pretty much all of the Oregon coast, and all the way down the California coast, hitting the coastal redwoods, Big Sur, Highway 101, and a lot more. Yeah, we caught some rain with the beautiful country. In looking back though, what most struck me was how different the three of us are. Start with the bikes. On the right of the pic is Jerry's bike, a Honda Goldwing, the ultimate touring bike. The powerful six cylinder motor can fly, but it's so smooth the best metaphor is a nice recliner.
Mick rode a Wing as well for years, until he thought he was done riding and gave it to his son-in-law. When his wife kindly pointed out "This man is not finished riding," he bought a Honda Shadow, a cool town cruising V twin. This one looks the most like a classic ride, but its low gearing makes climbing mountains an exercise in patience. The red ST1300 in the middle is mine, a fine blend of touring and town riding. 3000 miles, handled well on all bikes, but very different ones.
Guess that's appropriate, that the bike differences match the biker differences. When we hit a town, Mick (on the right) looks for a Dairy Queen to grab a Blizzard, Jerry (on the left) searches for a movie theater, and I (in the middle) want to find a museum--or a brew pub.
But we've ridden together for decades, the core of a group that's hung in there a long time. Probably a dozen others have cycled through, but we three remain. Why, and what does that mean for spiritual formation?
We share three common denominators. First, we all love God, and try to craft our lives to follow him. Second, we all love bikes and long cross country tours. Third, we've built a long history based on what we share, not how we differ. Yes, we frustrate each other at times. Yes, the voices sometimes get a bit sharp. Yes, we have different ideas about the "best" route to our destination. Yes, we have different preferences about the speed to travel at.
But as long as we can ride and God is willing, the Gray Hogs will stick together.
Now, here's a direct spiritual link. At the start of the trip, I spent several days with my sister and her husband in Redding, and attended their small group, one that is active, larger than the experts say is optimal, ministers to one another, and has stuck together for years. Why? They share a love of God, have common interests, and have built a history together. Those elements yield a strength that overpowers differences.
Deep and continuing connections with others form a vital part of both following Jesus, serving others, and being served when needed.
Kick Starting the Application
How involved are you with others on a regular, deep, committed basis? Have you seen the effect of that in your intimacy with God? What and why? Regardless of your current level, how can you enhance that? Look at those three elements that connect the Gray Hogs and my sister's small group. How well do you do in them?