God’s grace is with me even when I don’t feel it
It’s as if the night had come early. It’s the longest night of winter. It’s cold, it’s wet, no one is one the road. I’m alone out here in the wilderness, on this road, and the next nearest inn is another 140 kilometres away, with another 4000 metres of elevation to climb and descend, and I’m quickly losing daylight. Dusk is falling. I can barely feel my fingers. I can definitely not feel my toes. From a distance, I look like a fire-breathing dragon on two wheels, with my breath misting every time I exhale.
The voices in my head tell me to stop. It’s pointless to keep going. You’re never going to make it. You’re gonna die out here. My legs are hurting but I won’t let myself stop. My lungs hurt because of the cold air. But I’m ok to keep going. I just keep pedalling. The climb is gonna be the easy part.
As I reach the top of the first col, and I see the inn at top of the next col, its lights shining like a pillar of fire in the winter dusk. I have to get through the valley first. The descent is gonna be sketchy in these conditions. It’s dark and I only have the light on my handlebars to illuminate the road. It could be my end if things go wrong; I hit a pothole going 70 kph going downhill and it’s into the ravine I go.
I feel stuck. If I stay out here, I’ll freeze and die. The risk going downhill is great, but I know I have to do it. Death by crashing, or death by freezing; I’d rather crash and burn. At least if I take a risk, I have a shot at seeing the next day. I’ve already made up my mind, but fear prevents me from pushing off and descending.
On the bicycle, things are a lot simpler. Two wheels, some bits of carbon or steel or titanium in between those wheels, a set of cranks, some gears, a seat, and you’re good to go. Wherever you want to go, road or no road, as long as your legs are willing, you’re gonna get there. Even if I have to push my bike up some serious hills, I’ll push my bike up those hills if I have to.
I had a sudden epiphany: What if God’s grace is like the bicycle in between your legs? The day that you got the bike and swung your leg over the frame, it’s with you every pedal stroke of the way. In the blistering heat of midsummer’s day, or the frigid cold of winter solstice. Even when you’re resting at the coffee stop, or taking a selfie at the top of the Colle delle Finestre, even when you hit the deck and break bones, lose skin, the bicycle is always there with you. Even when you choose to abandon it, the bicycle doesn’t magically disappear into thin air. It’s there waiting for you wherever you’ve left it…
Ok maybe this metaphor has limitations. God’s grace is with you even when you’ve chosen to abandon Him; He’ll never abandon you. And that’s something that I have to remember. That even if I had chosen to abandon God, His grace never abandoned me. He’s there for me in the darkness. Actually, it was when a friend ghosted me, unfriended me on Facebook and all other social media that opened up the opportunity for God to speak to me. I would otherwise not have seen that Facebook post of the sermon my classmate from ACS shared; said friend shares an average of 20 links a day… my feed is usually flooded with posts/shares from her.
The sermon title was “Complete the Cross”. Elevation Church and their online presence has truly been a blessing during these dark days. I think I’m starting to see his faithfulness again. I started reconsidering my situation, and that things have happened perhaps to get me to the cross of Jesus once again. I’m starting to believe again. I’m starting to regain my own confidence again. But the lies, the voices still ring loud. The voices that say “You’re not good enough, Everett.” “You’re boring, Everett.” “You’re pathetic, Everett.”
Then, there’s the other voice, one much softer that says “I’m here with you.” There’s no variation to the tone, the pace, or the words said. “I’m here with you.”
I exhale into my hands for a brief moment. Those few moments of warmth touch my fingers and are immediately gone with the wind. Putting on my gloves back on my frigid fingers, switched my front light to full-blast, and gripped the drops of my handlebars.
“Alright Antoinette,” I breathed, “let’s go.”