For just a minute Sunday night, I was 12 years old again.
My friend Erin and I go on weekly bike rides when I get out of church in the summers. Nothing too arduous, just long enough to get in a decent workout and work out our lives as the twilight comes.
We were in a conundrum though last night. Do we go, or do we not? The weather was looking dicey and the black clouds were certainly rolling in. We decided to risk it, both of our personalities seem to have a wild side to them, but ride in a location that was central to both of our homes.
About 15 minutes into the ride, precisely when the radar said it would start, big drops began to hit our thighs, drip through our helmets and pelt our faces. We hurriedly split to head back to our respective houses, wishing the other safe travels.
The rain came harder as I furiously peddled my cruiser through the streets of Paducah, and I was squinting to keep the water out of my eyes and avoid cars. A few blocks from my house, however, I slowed down.
Soaked to the bone, I remembered riding my bike up and down my dead-end dirt lane growing up in Missouri, splashing through the puddles while the summer rain poured down. I remembered T-shirts ruined with mud stains flipped up the back from fender-less tires. I remembered not caring about the risk of lightning but enjoying the rumbles of thunder.
I turned my face up to the sky, praising God for the memories and the experience of being caught up in the storm. I might even have been laughing in the middle of the street, Hollywood romantic-comedy style, about my situation.
Before you think this is just some perfect, poetic blog post about a perfect, poetic bike ride, think again.
Reality set in at this time.
My mascara began to drip into my eyes, which caused my eyes to burn like fire. Twelve-year-old Dusty didn’t wear mascara.
The extra rain drops flooded my eyes and caused my right contact to flutter around my eyeball. I’m amazed I kept my bike upright and my contact in place. Young Dusty wasn’t a four-eyes back then, either.
Lightning also struck somewhere nearby, reminding me that I was indeed still 31, not a carefree preteen, and I was engaging in seriously risky behavior.
Still, God’s mercies were not lost on me.
Our morning and evening messages at church were centered on Matthew 14:22-33 where Jesus walks on water. How timely, lectionary, for you to coincide with one of the rainiest summers western Kentucky has ever had.
Pastor Curtis pointed out that if it were him on the boat, and not Peter, there’s no way he would have asked Jesus for an invitation to walk out on the water himself. Rather, the conversation would have gone something like this:
“Lord, if it is you, get back in this boat!”
Adventure-seeker though I may be at times, I’m with Curtis — “Jesus, let’s get back in this boat and let’s make some tea and let me tell you about my day. I’ve got this really cool bike and…”
But Jesus chooses to meet us in the storm, not the safe confines of the boat.
Jesus meets us where we are, and I’m grateful. When Peter went out on the water, it must have been an empowering moment for the disciple. But when he took his eyes off Jesus as he focused on the storm around him, he began to sink. Jesus reached down and grabbed him and took him back to safety.
Scripture tells us then Jesus used his God-power to stop the storm. But not until AFTER Peter and the disciples experienced the distress.
It was just a little storm Erin and I rode through last night. No mishaps. No opportunities to sink, although I’m thrilled a lightning bolt didn’t fry me like bacon.
But I’m blessed to have ridden through the rain.