The Bent Spoke

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence; they will be singing Your praises all the day long. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!
Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
Passing through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills [the pools] with blessings.
They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; each of them appears before God in Zion.
Psalm 84:4-7 (AMP)

I try to consistently work out at our local YMCA. I have found a very cool exercise bike that allows me to pick a virtual route. With a push of my finger, I can suddenly be transported to a ride along a beautiful ocean coast, a trail in a forest of towering redwoods, or find myself in the middle of a park. My favorite route is called “Bent Spoke.” It is one that depicts an uneven and winding path, which includes both patches of level ground and arduous hills that get my heart pumping into the cardio zone. It’s the trail I love to hate.

Yesterday I decided I needed to see what some of the other trails looked like. My legs were already fatigued as I climbed on board for the third successive day on the bike. I thought I would give myself a break and check out the scenery from one of the other trails I had not yet taken.

There is a line at the bottom of my virtual trail screen that shows me what the trail ahead is going to look like. This trail’s line went out straight, with no variations, until its completion. Immediately I knew that I would rather have my Bent Spoke than to have this boring stretch of sameness in front of me. It was then that God started speaking to my heart. I started smiling as I switched back to my Bent Spoke option and started talking back to Him in my mind.

“Lord, the journey that You and I have been on these last ten years reminds me of this virtual trail I am riding on. I started out so afraid with so many false misconceptions of who You are. I was a desperate, shame-filled, thirty-year-old mommy of two babies when You invited me to start my pilgrimage with You. I had accepted Your gift of salvation at the age of five. I knew Who You were, but I didn’t know You. In fact, I had tried to be a good girl, to do and say the right things, to pretend that I had it altogether. Maybe that was why I was so tired when You found me that day in my family room. I was trying to do life all by myself. You heard me sobbing on the floor that cold winter afternoon in Chicago and came to rescue me.

It was the first time I had ever heard Your voice as an adult. And I knew it was Your voice like a thirsty person knows the sound of running water that will quench her parched throat. You were so gentle with me. I was so scared. “Shawn, where are going and where have you come from?”

“I don’t know,” my quaking heart responded. I was so afraid. I had so much healing to do. You had anticipated my response already because You spoke so tenderly to me, “I’ll help you face everything. And the healing will happen just a little at a time. I will be there with you through it all.”

Somehow, You made me believe You. I had expected shame and condemnation. I was wrong. You lifted my head and told me that Jesus took my shame. You gave me the courage to believe that day that I was free and forgiven.

So much has happened since that day. There have been so many times that I have been glad I could not see around the next bend in this pilgrimage I am on with You. But I have to say that I have met You in the struggle up the mountain, the glorious, short stays at the summit, and especially in my valleys of weeping. You have always been faithful to me. And each time I think I can no longer bear the agony of the rough terrain, You meet me at a hidden oasis and let me hide myself in You as you refresh my spirit and give me new courage to go on.

Jesus, I would rather be with no one else. This adventure of life with You is the one I was born to live. You are the reason I get up in the morning. Life without You is one-dimensional. You have told me that one day, the journey will be over and I will lay my burden down. I look forward to the day when our walk together is no longer by faith, but by sight. These eyes of mine will see You as I lay my burdens down. How my heart longs within me for that day.

Strengthen these feeble knees and give me wisdom for the rest of the journey, no matter how long or short it may be. And whether I turn to the right or to the left, may my ears hear Your voice behind me saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)

I can never thank You enough for the privilege of taking me with You. My life is yours.