“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you…and ALL your ways will be established.” Proverbs 4:25-26.

A few years ago, we had the job of doing a destination wedding on the Island of Maui of the island chain of Hawaii. Sigh … yes I know it was tough but like they say, somebody’s gotta do it! And we were most grateful. The wedding only took 45 minutes, which meant we had about five days to play. There was a wide assortment of activities for all level of play some of which were not exactly my cup of tea but two or three were especially intriguing. One was snorkeling, another was taking a helicopter ride and the third was a nice bike ride down a volcanic mountain road. I did each but the bike ride was most memorable though but not in the way I had planned!

Everything was done in groups and our group turned out to be almost exclusively young people with myself being shall we say like the song, “The Ancient of Days.” This should have been my first clue but hey, I’m an old pro at riding a bicycle. It turned out this would be a very new experience. Never had I descended a mountain without being inside of at least half ton of steel encased within a car. To give perspective the temp at the top was at least 25 degrees cooler than at the bottom. Of course the younger ones I assumed would take the lead and I would just meander my way down in a leisurely fashion. Little did I know that weight + rate of descent = SPEED! And yes, not only was I the oldest but I was also the heaviest. For the first time in my life I had a small idea of Nascar performance but done on a flimsy bike frame and nothing between me and certain death should I not make one of those hairpin turns that led off into the abyss. The sharper the drop the quicker I would go and there was no stopping because I had 15 young people laughing and riding behind me with shouts of glee and terror all mixed together.

Ever drive in a tough situation and you find yourself gripping the steering wheel harder as if that will somehow help you? My hands were glued to the handlebars and my focus was totally on the road in front of me. Afterwards I saw pictures on postcards of the world-class views but did I see any of that? NO WAY! All I could see was either life or death depending on whether I could make each new turn.

Well obviously I am writing this so I must have made it to the bottom but I decided then and there that I would not be needed to represent the USA in the next Tour de France. Each of us today faces challenges and sometimes the hairpin curves are more than we think we can handle. But often there is simply no time to say gee I want off or I want out! You are in for the duration and MUST keep moving forward. Too many others are behind you and dependent on YOU to find a way thorough.  That is where we must learn to depend on God’s Holy Spirit to finish what He has begun in us and see us through to the finish.

It would have been an easier ride and not so, “Fast & Furious” had I not carried so much weight. Sometimes it is counter intuitive that we would think that too much weight would slow us down but in some situations it makes for more speed and more danger. I heard actor Denzel Washington say something interesting the other day as he was being interviewed. “There is no U Haul behind a funeral hearse. You can’t take it with you. The Egyptians tried it and it didn’t work’. Sometimes to keep from running out of control we need to lighten our load. What weights are causing you to go to fast? Yes we need to keep focused and keep our eyes on the road but there are also some pit stops along the way. One of them being in church where we can get rid of some of the weight. Luke 21:34-38 tells us to take heed lest your hearts be weighed down with the cares of life.

Today lets get rid of some of that excess baggage that is causing you to speed far to fast and then be better prepared to finish our race. Go in Peace, Go in Love, Go in Victory.

Pastor Norman Howell / June 2014