Biking with Jesus…
By Gary Piper
(Author’s note: I mean no disrespect to Jesus Christ by referring to him as JaySee my intent it to portray him not just as the Messiah but also as someone we can relate to as a close friend. I think one of God’s reasons for coming to earth as a human wasn’t so he could relate to us but so we could relate to him on our terms with the plan of eventually we could relate to him as God on his terms.)
Walking to the coat closet, “And just where do you think you’re going mister?” Patti ask me.
“It’s a beautiful warm spring day it’s been a long boring winter so I am going for the first bike ride of the season,” I replied, reaching in for my baseball hat.
“You haven’t been on a bike since last August and with the surgery in December you don’t plan on going very far are you?”
“Patti, you worry too much…”
Interrupting me, “You always try to do more than you should, Gary and besides someone has to worry about you and that someone is me.”
“Honey bunch, I may try to do more than I should sometimes but I never take chances especially when it comes to my hips. You don’t need to worry I’m just going to ride around here maybe up Lakeshore to the point and around that block. Besides there’s a picnic table up at the Townships Hall I can rest on.”
“I just don’t want anything to happen to you that’s all. I’ve a whole lot of living to do and I don’t want to do it without you,” she replied.
“Well what about getting started out today? I’ll get your bike out pump up the tires and we can go together.”
“You know we can’t leave my mother alone, Gary.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right your mother thing. Don’t worry about me I’ll be back after awhile.” I shut the door before she could say anything else. As I walked back to the shop where I kept my bike I silently asked Jesus to forgive me for my sour attitude toward life the last month or so. While I can’t be sure but I thought I heard a voice say, “we’ll talk later.”
A couple of minutes later my nice blue bike was sitting outside the shop for the first time this year. After checking the air pressure in the tires and adding a little air to both I grabbed a clean rag and began wiping off the winter accumulation of dust. Then just before walking it through the gate I added a little oil to the chain and around the wheels.
I thought about walking it to the driveway before getting on and riding off but the notion hit me of the possibility of falling and if I was going to fall I sure didn’t want her to see me. So I mounted back by the gate. Gave myself a shove and sure enough the bike started to fall but I caught myself. “Well GP, let’s try this again,” I said to myself. Seconds later I was heading for the end of the drive way. When I came to the end of the driveway I turned right making sure I was on the right side of the white line marking the side of the road.
A minute or so later huffing and puffing I was pulling into the North Port Party Store which is about the length of a football field from our house. “You sure are out of shape, GP,” I said to myself, “you better get back on and ride by home and call it a day.” Then just as I was about to follow my own advice my never-give-up-personality spoke up, “Are you really going to give in Gary? What has the winter done to you, turned you into a quitter, or something worse?”
“What could be worse?” I asked myself.
“You don’t wanna know,” I answered myself.
“Okay let’s forget it. I’m going in there and get myself a diet red pop and we’ll go for a ride. I’ll show you and the whole world I’m no quitter.” After realizing I was still talking to myself I sheepishly looked around to see if anyone was watching me. I breathed a sigh of relief when I discovered I was still alone.
Several minutes later with a 24 oz diet Faygo Red Pop sitting in the bottle carrier on my handlebars I was off on a new and exciting adventure. For me every time I grab my two-wheeler-me-powered-vehicle and ride is a new and exciting adventure. And even though I would only be around half mile from my house it was still and adventure. I think one of the most important attitudes we can use and develop is the double team attitude of expectation and anticipation. While they sound similar (and they are in some ways) they each have their own function at least as I understand them. When I leave our driveway on my bike I expect to find a new adventure and with each turn of the wheel I anticipate discovering and experiencing it.
May I suggest you try it the next you go anywhere. You may even find shopping becomes an adventure, or even going to church can become an adventure.
Anyway, by the time I rode up Lakeshore to the point where Lakeshore and M-25 meet I was beat and I sure was hoping no one would be there or at least sitting on the table outside. My legs were screaming at me, “We need to rest we can’t take you any further. Please sit for awhile.” I breathed a sigh of relief when the parking lot was empty as was the table. I slowly and painfully dismounted walked the bike to the sidewalk lowered the kick stand grabbed my red pop and walked to the table and sat down.
As I shuffled my bottom around getting comfortable the thought of a nice soft foot rest would really go great right about now. One of the things I like about sitting here is I can be alone yet I can still see the world speeding by because M-25 gets pretty busy with traffic at times and for some reason it seemed busier than ever. Sometimes I’ll watch a car coming from the north and follow it until it passes me and I wonder what’s going on in the life of the car’s occupants. Then for several seconds I’ll whisper a short prayer asking the Lord to be present with them.
After several minutes in the distance I noticed a bike rider coming toward me. It has always been a goal of mine to ride north on M-25 and go as far as the County Park on Metcalf road but 25 is way too busy for me and while there’s a wide shoulder to ride on I’ve seen too many cars cross the white line to pass a car on the right side. And it would be my luck that someone would swing to the right to pass a care making a left turn and WHOP! I’d be road kill! And while I have periods of depression I don’t have a death wish. Riding south on Lakeshore which I do all the time is dangerous enough for me. I wonder if not getting hit by a car could be seen as an adventure?
As the biker came closer I noticed it was a he. Since he was riding against traffic he turned off M-25 and stayed on Lakeshore. Seconds later I lost sight of him because of the building. I turned my head in order to pick him up as he passed the building but the next thing I knew he was getting off his bike and parking it next to mine. “Howdy neighbor,” he called out, “mind if I sit and rest awhile with you?”
His sweatshirt was the first thing I noticed from what I could tell it had a picture of Jesus, or someone who looked like Jesus, riding a bike. And under the graphic were there words, Bicyclist’s Ride With Jesus. “No I don’t mind at all come on sit and watch the world go by,” I replied. After several minutes of silence, “I like your sweatshirt,” I broke the silence. “Thank you, I designed and made it myself. How are you doing, Gary?” he asked me.
I didn’t pick up at first he called me by my name I don’t know how I managed not to but I did, “Oh, for the first time since last August on my bike I’m not doing too bad but don’t ask my legs they’ll tell you a different story.” We both chuckled. “Do you like bike riding?” the stranger asked. “Love it,” I replied, “I have two artificial hips and walking any distance is out but I can exercise the same muscles riding a bike.”
“Is that why you are riding that style of bicycle?” he asked.
“It sure is,” I replied, “I can’t get either leg up high enough to swing it over the seat so with a girls style of bike I don’t need to.”
“I guess a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do,” he replied. “I take it you’re a red pop fan.”
“You’re right on both accounts. By the way I’m Gary, Gary Piper and who might you be?”
“I’m JaySee, not the letters J and C but J-A-Y-S-E-E all one word. How I come to be given that name is a long boring story and I always do my best to avoid telling it,” he replied, with a grin on his face.
“I am glad to meet you Jaysee and don’t worry I won’t ask about your name. I know you said you’d designed the sweatshirt yourself but I’d be interested in knowing if it’s a one of a kind or you’ve made it available for others.”
“Sorry Gary, it’s a one of a kind I painted the picture myself and added the lettering as well. I never thought about anyone else liking it that much. I am sure with your ability with computers and software you can design your own.”
It suddenly dawned on me that for never have met him how did he know I was familiar with computers and stuff. I then remembered when he first pulled up he called me by my first name. “Would it be okay if I asked you a question?”
He flashed me a smile, “You’re going to ask me how I knew your name and how I know so much about you.”
When he said that inside I began to tremble a little bit and wondered what to say next. I didn’t have to say anything, “What if I told you I was Jesus would you believe me?”
There was no way this guy was Jesus. I am not sure where I got the courage to answer him back but I found myself saying, “What if I thought you were crazy?”
Breaking out in loud laugher, “I’d say that your right is to believe anything you’d like to believe in, but there are times when our beliefs deny the truth.”
“So you’re telling me you’re Jesus, the very same Jesus that was crucified, buried then rose from the dead on the third day. Is that what you’re telling me to believe?” However, after saying that I began hoping the stranger wasn’t Jesus because if he was indeed the resurrected Messiah and I called him crazy I was in a heap of trouble.
“Gary, I would never tell you what to believe you’re a big boy and have a good head on your shoulders. The only point I am trying to make is what you believe may not be the truth.”
By this time my mind was running faster than the cars were moving past where I was sitting. I repositioned myself so I could look him straight in the eye, “Are you Jesus we call the Christ?”
At that point I was not really sure what answer I wanted to hear. If he said he was Jesus I’m not sure what I’d do next. If he said he wasn’t I would breathe a sigh of relief and try to discover who this nut really was and how he knew so much about me. I tried as hard as I could to remember if I’d seen him before maybe an old co-worker, an old school chum, or a member of the church I was a member of.
“The question is not who I am because I already know who I am nor is the question who do you want me to be the real question is who do you say I am.”
Deep inside I was sure he was indeed Jesus but what would Jesus be doing riding a bicycle and why would he want to talk to me. In the back of my mind I knew there’s not a Christian alive that didn’t want to see Jesus face-to-face. I know he made reference to who I wanted him to be and in all honesty Jesus is who I wanted him to be. “I know you said the question was who I believed you to be yet I want you to be Jesus called Christ. Yet deep inside I am sure that is who you are.”
In the silence that followed I expected him to break out in laughter and say, “April fool’s day!” However there was no laughter, no shout of about the day being April first. Instead, “Why do you want me to be Jesus?” he asked.
I wasn’t quite ready for that question because I hadn’t really thought about it. I had wanted a one-on-one relationship with him for years. And lately I’d been pestering (without luck I may as well add) him to meet me in my imagination but I’d never really given any thought to why. I thought it was so I could gather stuff for a story or something but as I began thinking about my reason for wanting the stranger to be Jesus was it so I could boost my ego, after all how many people do you know can tell you they’ve been one-on-one with Jesus? He must have known what I was thinking because, “Let me ask the question in a different way. What do you hope to obtain if I truly am who you want me to be?”
WOW! That was like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders the only thing I really wanted from Jesus was a deeper more intimate relationship with him. I wanted to know him, to talk to him, to learn from him, to depend on him, to trust him, to live my life through him. Suddenly before I could verbalize my thoughts, “That’s more than one thing,” he commented.
When he said that there was no doubt in my mind he was indeed Jesus the Christ. Then all of a sudden my mind shut right off. It was like something or someone sucked the life out of me and I was left floating in some meaningless abyss or something. And then instantly there was a blinding flash of pure white light and I felt a sudden explosion of peace envelope me such as I’ve never even come close to experiencing. As my eyes began readjusting to the natural sunlight suddenly a thick dark cloud settled over head blocking the sun and somehow the man sitting across from me wasn’t the same man. Instantly, “What happened and who are you?” I managed to utter.
“You were nearly sucked in by our old adversary, the devil. You don’t think for a minute that Jesus would really ride a bike do you?” the new stranger said, with a voice that sent chills up and down my spine.
I can’t explain how I knew but deep inside the man sitting across from me hadn’t come from heaven to warn me about getting sucked in by the devil. “I don’t know who you are but I think you’re the one trying to suck me in. So I think I’ll just get on my bike and ride home and stay there for awhile,” I commented, with my voice still trembling. Instantly I was sitting alone there was no other bike standing next to mine.
Immediately I shifted my weight to stand up when suddenly, “Gary.” When I heard my name there was no explosions of light there was no angelic chorus there was only a simple yet profound intense flood of oneness not only with the man who called himself Jaysee but with myself and all of creation it was like everything converged into oneness. In response I could only say one word, “Jesus?”
I am not sure how long the experience lasted probably only a matter of seconds but it seemed like a lifetime and as I sat by myself sitting at the picnic table. As the sounds of passing cars replaced the silence deep inside I heard a faint whisper, “We will ride again.”
A minute or two later I walked over to where I’d left my bike opened up the pouch got out my journal and recorded everything I could remember which brings me up to the point I am at now. To be completely honest while I know what I experienced there are times when I find it hard to swallow primarily because why would Jesus single me out to appear to rather than other more qualified theologians or church leaders. However, I know what I experienced and it was real when I suddenly felt the cold claw of Satan it was real and when I experienced complete Peace it was real.
About 20 minutes later I walked into our kitchen, “You weren’t gone very long, Gary.” Walking to the fridge to put the remainder of my pop in it, “I told you I wasn’t going far for a first time out. I told you, you worry to much.” Putting dish down she was washing she looked my way, “That’s gotta be a first then. Anything interesting going on out there is the big messed up world?” She asked. “Naa! Just another day in the sun,” I replied trying not ot smile, “Just another day of fun in the sun.