This morning I woke up at the exact time I’m normally heading out the door to get to church. I’d slept through my alarm.
I launched myself out of my bed, threw on a pair of jeans and my converse, doing all of my necessary hygiene stuffs, and continued on throughout my morning routine like a tornado. Part of me, as I got ready, decided I just wouldn’t have enough time to do my morning devotions. But the other part of me remembered that God always got me to where I needed to be on time when I put Him first. So before I rushed out the door, I took a moment to open up my Bible and get my mind in the right place.
Last night I was struggling (I have no idea why) with the fact that I just cannot write a good love story. I have no idea how to write one. It’s not so much that I want that in my stories, but it bothers me that it’s one genre of writing that I’m incapable of delving into. This morning, however, after a night of talking with Hannah, I realized that I was part of the greatest love story ever told. So I opened my Bible to the gospel account of John and read how Jesus died, and then how He was buried, and then how He was resurrected, and I was reminded, after experiencing the heart-wrenching moment of when Jesus said Mary Magdalene’s name, just her name, that I don’t have to be able to write a good love story. It’s not really about writing a story about love anyway…it’s more about living loved.
John constantly referred to himself as “the one whom Jesus loved,” which showed just how absolutely solid he was in believing that Jesus loved him.
Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song titled Love Take Me Over, and one of the lines is, “This is what I’m sure of: I can only show love when I really know how loved I am.” This ties in with 1 John 4:19, which says “We love because He first loved us.”
It was just a wonderful reminder of the fact that it’s okay if I can’t write a good love story. I’m really not in a position where it’s time to think about all of that stuff anyway. God has put me in an amazing spot in my life where I can be completely devoted to Him, with my eyes set on His love and living loved. My identity is rooted firmly in Christ’s love for me, therefore, He is enough, His love is enough, and His love letter to me is by far the most magnificent love story I will ever read with my imperfect eyes.
With that, I headed out the door, out of my dorm building, and onto my bike. I went on my normal path, hitting a gradual downhill and continuing onward. While I was going downhill, however, the chain on my bike popped off. I’ve never had to put the chain back on my own bike before, so I coasted as far as I could before I saw an upcoming stop light and went to brake…but my brakes were gone without the chain.
Seeing the cars moving back and forth in front of me, I quickly brought myself forward and pawed at the ground with my shoes until I stopped about fifteen feet from the traffic. Thankful for God’s protection I moved my bike onto the sidewalk, flipped it upside down, and looked at the chain: it was off all right.
Thankfully, the day before I’d left the Sticks, I watched my mom fix the chain on this exact bike, so I had an inkling of how to go about fixing it. I fixed it within a minute and was back on the road. Having stopped, however, I lost my position and missed the street I normally turned onto, so I got lost and had to maneuver my way around Brooklyn until I finally found the street.
Throughout the time, however, I actually waited for myself to grow impatient or frustrated or discouraged. But as I traversed the morning rush and dodged vehicles and other bikers, I never became so, not once. I guess I just remembered that there was nothing I could really do. I was trying to get to church, to go and spend time with other believers and refresh myself with God’s word. The only one who was going to deliberately try and stop me would be Satan, but the One who would deliberately move things so I could get there would be God, and I don’t think I need to tell you who won.
I got there on time, even with getting up late. I went into Sunday school and listening to Sam talk about unity in the church, which I thought was really cool because there’s a lot of disunity in the body of Christ as a whole, all across the world. It can sometimes be discouraging because you feel like you can’t make a difference as one believer. Unity requires the cooperation of many, not just the vision of one. But it’s God’s will that His children be united (1 Corinthians 12:12-31), so why wouldn’t He help you if you’re actively seeking His will?
After Sunday School, there was Morning Service. Brother Moore preached on, well, playing the Glamor Game, basically, being addicted to looking good, to justifying our existence through what we’ve accomplished. He reminded us that God, in His awesomeness, did not just throw in justification as a last-ditch effort to save the human race. From the very beginning, before He even created the world, He knew man would sin, and He already had a plan to reconcile him to Himself. The cross was always the plan.
And that is so reassuring, because it means that God, in everything He does and says and is, justifies life by Himself, by who He is. He is the justification for our existence and He makes life really worth living. If we’re extraordinary, it’s only because God has made us so. And that’s kind of awesome, because that means on the days when I feel less than extraordinary, He still is, and my worth and identity aren’t rooted in what I can do, but rather in what He can do. I’m just so glad it doesn’t rest on me.
Morning service ended. Jenny, Cherie, and I walked to Dunkin Donuts and then ate lunch in Prospect Park, sitting next to the water and feeding old bread to the many ducks that congregated there. It was nice, even though the air was cold and sitting in the shade made it colder.
Jenny and Cherie left, and I sat by the water and by the ducks for some time, just thinking and reading my journal. Sometimes, when I’m struggling with remembering what in the world I’m doing here, I go back through my journal and read my earlier entries, and then I remember. When I got back to church, I talked to God.
Me: Yes. I’m going to become a great writer, very knowledgeable and successful in my field, working hard and exercising integrity and tenderness and love and I will follow You and passionately pursue You and use this adventure that is college as a ministry, as an opportunity to grow closer to You. That’s why I’m here anyway. I’m not here because it was my first choice. I’m here because it’s where You want me.
I often forget (I don’t really know how) that God knows what He’s doing. He doesn’t need me to jump on things and assume control and take the helm and whatnot. He has everything taken care of! Quite literally all I have to do is follow Him. Granted, I might not even be in the writing industry or the literary community after college. That might not be God’s plan for me. Of course then the question is “why go to college?” Well, look at everything that’s already happened, and it’s all because of God. When I say “I’m going to become a great writer,” I mean that that’s the route I’m taking right now. It’s not the end, but it is the way in which God is reaching people through me, so that’s the direction I’m going. Again, I don’t know if that’s where God is going to put me, but I am going to go for it until He changes things up. *Sigh* I’m just so impatient. But God is good, and He is much more patient with me than I am with anything.
Evening service ended and there was a wedding reception held for a young couple in the church. I always feel weird being at weddings or even receptions where I don’t personally know the bride and groom, and I often won’t go or won’t want to go if this is the case. Today, however, I knew the bride and the groom 🙂 So I was able to enjoy it much more thoroughly.
Eventually I left, hopping back on my bike and heading home. I weaved my way through Prospect Park and came out on the other side. Making my way downhill along Vanderbilt Ave., I began to pick up speed as I normally did when going home.
But as I rode along, a bus turned into the bike path, leaving only three feet (or so) of space between its front right corner and the back corner of a parked Camry.
I wasn’t going to make it, and I didn’t have enough time or room to brake and stop myself.
In the few seconds I had to make a decision, this is what flashed through my mind:
I have three options: 1) I can try to make it between the car and the bus, though I seriously doubt that’s possible. 2) I can hit the bus or the car. 3) I can jump off my bike.
Needless to say, I threw my left leg over to the right side of my bike and jumped off onto the sidewalk, tucking my arms and legs into my chest to protect my vital organs and tilting my head back to keep from hitting it off the concrete. Thankfully I was also wearing my bright red backpack, so my shoulders and spine were protected as well. I hit the ground hard and slammed my knees together. I rolled a bit before stopping on my back. My bike had fallen onto the curb of the sidewalk directly in front of me without hitting anybody or anything. Several people ran to me and asked if I was okay.
I got up, picked up my bike, and began walking along the sidewalk. That was when everything started hurting. I knew my knees were cut up even though I couldn’t see them: there was a minor tear in my pant leg. My right hand and left elbow were scrapped up pretty badly, but they’d heal quickly. But I was alive 🙂
God is good…yeah, just a bit.
At the next intersection I hopped back on my bike and began riding. At the stoplight a woman pulled up next to me, rolled down her window, and said “Would you consider a helmet?”
Woman: I saw you fall, and I was wondering if you’d consider a helmet.
She was a mother, I could tell. She didn’t say “Hey, stupid kid, wear a helmet or learn how to ride a bike,” or any of the other things I’ve heard since moving to the City for school, but rather she was kind and compassionate, reminding me of what I should do to keep myself safe. I smiled at her and we talked until the light turned green.
Maybe a helmet wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
I got to my dorm and cleaned my scraps and cuts and bandaged them up before doing laundry. Bree walked in later and asked me how my day went. I told her of what happened and she later informed me that she “wasn’t to keen on finding another roommate…she likes the one she has.” I took that as a “please don’t die. I’ll miss you.”
So, I think I’ve had my fill of near-death experiences for the year…or at least for the month. Meanwhile, I do believe I’m going to exercise the full use of my brakes while going downhill, invest in a helmet, and continue to thank the Lord that He loves me and protects me, no matter what I’m doing, where I am, or who I’m with.
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way, though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lords upholds his hand.” —Psalm 37:23,24, ESV