Winding my way up Route 611 North from Frenchtown, NJ, the air was crisp and the sun bright. A quick about-face and a brief stop at a roadside market filled my saddlebags with wax beans, beets and sweet corn. Dinner would be fantastic!
Rumbling up the route, it was hard to race directly home. The wind so sweet and the road beckoning to roll on, I decided to make a detour, but where? Shortly ahead I saw the sign for the Cascade Lodge. A not too unfamiliar place, I decided a revisit was in order. My fondest memory was of a Mother’s Day dinner years ago with my wife and Mom. I had the fresh trout, just snatched from the water! We laughed and celebrated at a table overlooking the pond and meadow.
As I turned onto Lehnenberg Road a wonderful marvelous sight appeared. Fresh pavement! Safety cones still lined the center of the road and the dark, black, beautiful pavement contrasted with the bright yellow lines like a bumblebee. It screamed for me to ride and ride and ride. So smooth the pavement, I stopped at the lodge just to double back and do it again. What a joy! There isn’t anything more welcoming to a motorcycle rider than fresh blacktop. Well, maybe ice cream comes close. Yes, definitely ice cream!
The older I get the more I relish the magic of trying new things. Some people get more set in their ways and preferences, and perhaps I’m that way in some ways, too. But there’s a wonderful thrill to finding new roads – they bring new life. Jesus knew this well, too. Speaking to the holders of the ancient Hebrew faith, Jesus beckoned to them – and to us – towards a new way. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…” A new way, brings new life!
Since this section of road was relatively short - joyous, but short - and I hadn’t reached the end of it due to my U-turn, I decided to find out exactly how much of this lovely licorice ribbon had been laid down. As I leaned heavily into a tight left and twisted the throttle, I accelerated up a short hill with the breeze increasing the smile on my face. And then it all melted away. As I crested the hill the cones disappeared and a mean, snarly man with a bright orange flag stationed protectively behind a “Road Closed” sign signaled for me to turn right. Actually, I don’t know for sure if he was either mean or snarly, but I was sad to see the new pavement end.
As I took the only way offered to me, I realized that I’d never been on this road, and a grin returned to my mouth. Much older and more rugged than the road I’d just left, Cross Road lead me a short way to a T intersection, and I turned left.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my desire to follow Jesus is that He will save us from a boring life. Yes, He saves the soul – He came to set captives free and release prisoners from unseen chains – but He also promised a life of fantastic abundance.
But in that abundance we have to remember that we’re also frequently called to walk a rough and rugged road. Many, just like my travels this day, don’t take the way of Jesus – few cars shared the road with me once I left 611, Easton Road. No, the way of the cross is a very personal, intimate life with the Creator discovering more of Him and ourselves along the way. This day’s ride taught me a lot about this Truth.
Cross Road let to Mine Hill and then a right then a fork and another right. I inhaled dairy farms, buzzed past cornfields, soybeans and pastures. Barbed wire, split rails and electric fences challenged me to races along winding ways. A small, brown, spotted goat stared at me. I stared back. My senses and memory were quickened. The hints of stories that whisked past me as I rode teased at me to stop; I wished I had time to hear them. This new road, this new way, invigorated me, excited me and made me appreciate living. Yet these roads had been waiting for me to join them all along. One was newly paved, but not newly made. Others rough and narrow, they brought me to a place of mind where ease and peace, treat and treasure reside.
And that is precisely what Jesus has been to me. He wasn’t a “new way” that suddenly appeared when I was 16. But He was waiting for me all along. I had to find Him and follow, just like I did these roads. I had to recognize His beckon to me and pursue. Both treat and treasure are part of my life with Jesus, too.
There are times when life is new and smooth and easy, just like my ride to Cascade Lodge. But we're also familiar with the rough and rugged times, the ones that jar your insides like a foot-deep pothole. I've learned that once we truly - body, mind and spirit - surrender to the way of the cross, Jesus will be in both the treats and the trials. And much like when I'm on my motorcycle, regardless of the road, I'm glad I'm with Him and He with me.
Your decision is the same one I faced as I road up 611 and at 16. Will you continue in the way you know or take a new road? A new road will bring new life – and Jesus will do that for you, too.