It all seemed so simple. Needing a break from studying during our final finals week in college, a bunch of us took a break from our studies to view “Easy Rider,” the iconic cult biker film featuring sex, drugs, and bikes. It entranced me. Not the sex and drugs, although I certainly couldn’t claim faith then. But Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper captured the freedom of traveling on two wheels.
The idea burst upon me like inspiration—I’d work for a month or so, save enough to buy a bike, and head to Canada for a month before grad school started. Three weeks after buying the bike, I took off. Way too early, I knew almost nothing about riding or bikes. Not enough to know the danger.
As did nearly all bikes back then, my Honda 350 Scrambler had a chain drive that needed daily maintenance—lubing and tightening the chain. Well, I’d fallen in love with the unity of biker, bike, and the road, and did more riding than maintaining. The bike rode well, even though it was loaded high with a backpack strapped to the sissy bar. Pulling out of Banff on highway 93 in the magnificent Canadian Rockies, heading for Idaho, I took full advantage of the bike. Heading into a long, sweeping turn to the right, I barely noticed the 35mph sign, doing at least 60. OK, maybe more. The pic above comes from that road, just a different spot.
But I had a good line, until the chain slipped off the sprocket and locked the rear wheel. Mix together a high center of gravity, instant major braking, and an inexperienced rider, and you get the recipe for going down hard. Not really knowing what to do, I somehow kept the bike upright until it skidded to a stop at the side of the road. After the shaking stopped, I took the bike half apart to get the chain off. Needless to say, after that not a day went by without the chain getting maintained.
But I think I may have lied. I’m not sure it was me who kept the bike up. Physics would predict a fall. A rookie rider almost guarantees it.
I have no special “message from God,” but I’m convinced an angel, or several, kept the bike up that day above Radium Hot Springs. Humility may not be one of my greater gifts, but I wasn’t good enough to do that.
The obvious lesson—maintain your gear. The more subtle one—a supernatural reality exists, independent of our belief in it. At that point in my life, I wasn’t a follower of God. I suspected the supernatural dimension was real, but I wouldn’t have argued it. Six months later I did come back to God, with no doubt about his power and involvement in our lives. This story played a role.
Does God sometimes protect us supernaturally? I believe so. Does he sometimes choose to not do so? That’s equally apparent. Why yes, and why no? I have no clue. But I do trust his love even more than his power.
Kick Starting the Application
Do you believe God intervenes supernaturally in our lives? Why or why not? Have you experienced times that you’re pretty sure had a supernatural element, like my story? How did that impact you? How do you handle situations when God doesn’t intervene?
Note: an expanded version of this chapter is in Ch. 5 of God, a Motorcycle, and the Open Road, and yet another version is in the just released When God Happens 2