If there was one thing I said I'd never do, aside from leaving my home country for a foreign field, it was to ride on a motorcycle. And here I am, in Thailand, driving one.
Well, to be fair, it's a motorbike. But it doesn't have training wheels and it does have a motor and I don't have to pedal to get from one place to another. Which means it's scary.
But diesel is pricey and it's a bit of a jaunt in the truck from home to the Mission Post and church. So I stapped on my big girl pants and started driving the motorbike to town on occasion to save in fuel costs.
And nervous though I always am, I'd done this without incident. Until, that is, about three weeks ago. My streak was short-lived.
We'd left the church and headed for home. Robbie was in the van with Ram (the monk), Teacher Ocean, and all the kids. I was on the motorbike with Hannah on the back and things were going great. I was dodging cars and stray dogs like a seasoned veteran and my confidence was growing.
And then we came to the stop where I'd have to check for traffic before turning right on the road that leads to home. Just as I was about to the place where I needed to stop, a passing truck blasted his horn right in front of me and gave me the scare of my life.
Instinctively, I braked too hard and dropped my feet to help keep the bike upright. The biked skidded a little and Hannah lurched forward against me while my right foot dragged across the rough road, peeling the skin back in one area.
I paused a minute, thankful we hadn't actually wrecked, and quickly assessed the damage to my foot. Blood was issuing forth onto my sandal (yes, I was in flip flops. feel free to scold me because you can't do worse than I've already done to myself) and the pain from the wound was threatening to rival that of my c-sections.
I've clearly never been one to be dramatic.
Gathering myself together, I got us across that intersection but quickly realized the moving air on my foot was making the pain too much to drive. We took a little detour and hung out in town awhile until Robbie was coming through again and could take us home.
Fast forward three weeks and you'll land on this past weekend. I hadn't touched the bike in the days since my incident, but I knew I needed to get to the church early. I had to get it open and the top floor cooled down a bit. And I refused to drive the truck into town to leave Robbie with the van because paying diesel costs to haul both in there was just senseless.
So I did it again. I strapped on those same big girl pants, now feeling a bit snug and uncomfortable, and I drove into town on the bike, this time with Abigail on the back. I'm pleased to report that I was also wearing sneakers.
And can I just tell you about the sermon God spoke to me as I looked back on the drive to and from church that day?
Because as I pulled out onto the gravel road beyond our gate, all my senses were on high-alert. I was looking for every tiny pothole, scouting for any stray dog that may be lurking, surveying for snakes. And once I turned onto the road leading to town, my alertness only intensified.
My mirrors were perfectly adjusted so I could be watching for anything behind, or coming up beside, me. I was in a constant state of awareness as I kept both eyes on the oncoming traffic, other motorbikes, dips in the road, and loose gravel. There wasn't a single second where I let my guard down, so intent was I not to repeat the mistakes of my last drive.
And it occured to me, in hindsight, that if I guarded my spiritual self near so well as I guarded my physical self that day, my life would look vastly different.
I was unwilling to fall in the same way, endangering myself and my daughter, so I did everything in my power to protect us. Ultimately, we rest in the hands of God, but certainly He asks us to do our part. I'm fairly confident I was doing my part, and maybe even trying to do it twice. So, why then, am I so much less carefully guarded when it comes to my spiritual "safety", which also has the potential to harm, or even kill, my children?
If I brought myself before God, confessing my sins and pleading for a pure heart of repentance, and then rather than rushing into the day, I eased out carefully so as not to miss avoidable dangers ... if I did that, I wouldn't be the mess I still am.
My level of alertness regarding the spiritual pitfalls all around me is sometimes alarmingly low, as though I don't realize the grave consequences of not paying attention. But I want to be checking my mirrors, surveying the landscape, and treading judiciously so as to stay under the shadow of the Almighty.
My foot still hurts and honestly, I'm glad. Because every single time I bump it, or it gets stepped on, or my shoe rubs just right I am reminded. Reminded that it never pays to be overly confident in our own abilities.
Reminded that as much as I never want to repeat my mistake from that afternoon, I am even more determined to learn what God has been showing me from it.
God never wastes pain and He's a Master at using our mistakes for our good. My heart and soul are safe in His keeping ...
...and so are yours.
Photo credit: AlexWareVisuals (my beloved 20 year old son)