As a teenager in middle and high school, I loved to create new workout plans. I would fashion workouts for my younger brother and I to do at early hours in the morning with great anticipation of what all this extra exercise would do to our athletic performance. To my brother's credit, he would always get up and do these ambitious workouts with me without too much complaint. Where I had an abundance of desire and ambition, however, I lacked creativity and resources in our workouts. My mom would often find us in the garage running in place for several minutes; then jumping on our minitramp as high as we could go (I cleverly had a line drawn on the wall above the freezer that we had to touch each time). We would sweat it out for a few minutes, get bored, and come inside proud of ourselves for our hard work.
One year, I decided it was time to change things up and pick up bike riding as a form of exercise. My childhood years of neighborhood biking had long since passed and we now lived out in the country where sidewalks and suburban streets were no longer a luxury.
Where I narrowly escape death...
The first day of my biking exercise plan, I picked up my mom's bike and decided to give it a spin. I was thoroughly enjoying my biking adventure, when I came to an often traveled intersection where I needed to take a left before climbing an enormous hill to get home. I did not have to stop, but there was a stop sign for the cross-street. I was pumping my legs fast and hard to get momentum to climb that hill after I made the turn. I made my left turn signal (okay, let's be real, I wasn't even wearing a helmet back then, and I don't even know how to make a left turn signal) but as I started to turn, I noticed a car coming towards me down the hill I was crossing and turning onto. I was going much too fast to stop in time and I was very confident that my options were death by car or death by blackberry bushes (did I mention the deep ravine with blackberry bushes to my immediate right?) and so in my youthful wisdom, I opted for the bushes. I careened at FULL SPEED into the trench and while the adrenaline postponed the excruciating pain I would later feel and the added devastation at the state of my torn up clothing, I was quite pleased that I both didn't die, and also didn't appear to have broken any bones. (In fact, I felt a wave of pleasure as I envisioned myself stealthily surviving my near death experience with such speed and agility. I could almost see myself gliding through the air as I narrowly escaped death).
When my pride is destroyed...
When I pulled myself and my bent up bike out of the ravine, I saw the car and driver that nearly killed me stopped and waiting to see if I was still living. The driver, I am sure, asked if I was okay and was very impressively not rolling on the ground laughing but I have no real memory of any of that b/c I had, at that moment, the realization that the car I had so feared was stopped at its STOP SIGN. A stop sign meant that I had, in no way, been in danger of being killed by car. In my foolish panic, I forgot about the stop sign and chose to rely on my own speed and excellent good sense to save me. In reality, I just made a fool of myself, not to mention ruined a very cute pair of bright pink workout shorts. Needless to say, my fearless days of biking came to an abrupt end that day and my pride did not recover for years.
Just like I unwisely didn't take advantage of my right of way on my bike, and in my alarm failed to remember that there was a stop sign at the bottom of a hill that I lived near and drove on regularly, I often fail to recognize and take advantage of very helpful, always available, injury preventing stop signs in my Spiritual life.
I know that we all have spiritual stop signs that we sometimes forget about and/or choose to ignore, though hopefully none of you have to hurt and humiliate yourself to realize their value. I can be forgetful and even foolish sometimes. I regularly try and muster up my own strength in order to climb the hills ahead. I just as regularly need a reminder of the safety and simple security that comes from trusting Jesus Christ. We are not alone. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, much like my infamous stop sign, are there to offer us peace, protection, and comfort if we choose to rely on them rather than our own good sense (or, in my case, lack thereof).