Coffee Stains: Indiana Porter and the Lost Bike PathAuthor: David Porter
Have you ever wished that you had listened?
I ride my bike often to try to stay in shape–three miles out to the top of a hill overlooking grain-laden fields near the village of Variscourt, a small prayer pause while I admire what a beautiful painter the Lord is, and three miles back huffing and puffing the last 100 yards.
Monday the 9th of June was a holiday here in France (Pentecost Monday), so instead of following my normal trajectory I decided to return by a bikepath next to a canal on the other side of the village. Phyllis and I had ridden through these fields and woods last year but from the other direction.
I crossed the old canal bridge and headed down the path through the trees. On the other side of the water people picnicked, fished and generally enjoyed the warm, afternoon sunshine.
Funny though, after a while grass and weeds obscured the bike trail. “They’re not taking very good care of this,” I thought. Finally to my surprise I came to a barrier, a plastic ribbon stretched between two poles, with a sign warning me I didn’t have the right to enter. Said there were “traps.”
“Traps!” I scoffed to myself. I was nearly sure that the main road wasn’t far ahead. What was going on with this bike path? (I had taken a wrong turn, but I didn’t realize it yet). I decided that I was going ahead anyway. “What are they going to trap around here?”
I ducked under the ribbon and pushed forward. Pushed was the word because the grass quickly got too high to pump my bike comfortably. At the top of a little hill I looked down from the lip of a sort of grass-covered bowl with a little lake at its bottom, off to the side. I startled some wild ducks.
This was beginning to look more difficult than I thought. Turn back? Who me? Never! Besides, it was a long way back now and I didn’t want to prolong this trip. This was an ADVENTURE. Something like “Indiana Porter and the Lost Bike Trail.” Got a nice ring doesn’t it?
I followed the rim of the artificial bowl as that looked easier than wading through waste-high grass straight across. Looks can be deceiving. I soon found myself fighting through high grass, briars, and bullnettle. I was wearing short pants and the front of my legs stung. “The path must be just ahead.” Instead of turning back I plunged on, often in tangles as high as my bicyle. I had to carry it a good part of the way.
Several times I thought, “I wish I had paid attention to that sign. Why in the world did I come in here?” I wondered if anyone would find me if I died of a heart attack. Probably some future hard-head would wander by this place, ignore the sign and find my bleached skeleton, staring hollow eyed into space, my faithful bicycle rusting next to me.
I finally fought my way through and sure enough on the other side was the bike path. It didn’t look promising to the right so I turned left and followed a wonderful path. And followed it and followed it and followed it, forever it seemed, until I saw a little bridge over the canal and off to my right people picnicking and fishing.
I had come back to where I started and still had three miles to go!
Had a hard time sleeping that night, because my legs were screaming, burning, itching, and throbbing from my knees to my ankles. Several times I thought, “I wish I hadn’t ignored that sign.”
Have you ever ignored a sign? God teaches us how to live by His Word, but we think we can do a little better. “He probably put that there so that we wouldn’t be happy. That was for back then. We know better now.” or “Usually it’s wrong but my case is an exception.” Or simply, “Things have changed.”
We know we shouldn’t and we do it anyway. And like “Indiana Porter” we discover that God really knew best. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (Ephesiens 5:6, NIV)
Are you tempted to get involved in something that you shouldn’t? READ THE SIGN!–God’s Word. This thing really is dangerous. You really will suffer from it. Are you already caught in the trap? Go back to the start! “But’s it’s tough. I’m tired. I’m sure there’s a way out of this just ahead.”
Don’t buy that line. Go back to where you left the right path, even if it costs you something. It will cost you a lot less than if you persist in trying to make a wrong path right.
By the way, if you need it, I found a good cream that sooths bull-nettle stings. I’ll give it to you. I’m not planning on needing it again.