image by wildnatureimages.com
Just after graduating from college, I worked long enough to buy a Honda 350 Scrambler motorcycle and to save a few bucks, and took off for Canada. My only objective: visit a former college roommate who had moved to Kamloops. No other plan, no watch, just a few maps and a little cash. The only time frame: return for the start of grad school in late August.
The primary road above, through the redwoods of northern California, saw a lot of detours. Every intriguing sign, every interesting side road, every wild hair changed the route. 10 states and 2 countries, 30 days and 6,000 miles, and my life changed. Not just that motorcycle touring hooked me, which it did. Not just that my appreciation for the beauty of open country grew, which it did. Not just that I found many exceptionally hospitable and helpful people, which I did.
But I learned a lot about freedom. About choices. Up to then, my life had been prescribed and regulated. Finish high school. Go to college. Work summers to save money for the next year at college. Get a good professional job. But for the first time, I experienced freedom.
Freedom to choose what to do. Freedom to change the course. Each side road became a metaphor of choice. I even came very close to staying in Canada and skipping grad school entirely.
I learned to ride free in life. To be flexible. To plan and adapt the plan. Frankly, I struggled with that a bit for some time. I’d heard the Four Spiritual Laws that told me “God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life.” Like many, I thought that meant he had the details all planned. An earlier post described how he sometimes does that, “Determinism,” on 4/14/14. What if, in my freedom, I missed what God planned for me?
Then I came across 2 Corinthians 2:12-13. Paul had traveled almost 200 miles, either on a slow boat or slower walking, from Ephesus to Troas, to preach. Upon his arrival, God opened a door to do that. God’s will. Pretty clear. But Paul chose to ride free: “Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-bye to them and went on to Macedonia.” I expected a lightning bolt when Paul chose to ride free of God’s open door.
But get the next verse: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ.”
God guides us. Sometimes quite clearly. But he also allows us to choose, and blesses us in that. OK, not so much when we choose sin, which we all realize. But we can, to a large extent, ride free in life. We can make plans, and change them on the fly. We can follow those plans. We can totally change them.
Doesn’t God’s confidence in our ability to choose wisely encourage you?
Kick Starting the Application
Have you experienced very clear guidance, like described in the “Determinism” post? Have you experienced the freedom God gives to shape our lives, within the bounds of obedience to commands? How did that work out? Does this concept of riding free change your view of God? Should it? How? What range of freedom do you see in the Christian life?