Written by: Pat Heck
I love listening to others tell stories. Sometimes those stories are about something fun or adventurous. Sometimes it may be a tale of accomplishment and– at my age – it is often the accomplishment of a child. If I classified all the stories I’ve told and heard, the category with the most stories is the one with stories that are about overcoming adversity. But there is another category that I particularly love; stories about Amazing Service. Things such as a time when someone came to our aid unexpectedly or maybe a call to customer service where the company went above and beyond to take care of us. And for the riders today we’ll be sharing about this day for many years to come because we experienced both on our ride from Duck River, Tennessee to Collinwood, Tennessee. We received amazing hospitality from two different churches and we rode on a day when almost all experienced riders would have just said, “Nope!”
When we hit the sack the night before today, we knew there were some unknowns about the timing of bad weather. Bad weather was certain. The other thing we were certain of was the folks at Shady Grove UMC and the folks at Collinwood UMC would overwhelm us with kindness and food. We ate like royalty at breakfast (courtesy of Shady Grove) and we ate like royalty at dinner (courtesy of Collinwood).
But today is Sunday, so before circling up to ride, we worshipped with the folks at Shady Grove. And I’ve long known that our God – who has provided a way of salvation through His son, Jesus Christ – has a sense of humor. Our scripture reading for today started with Isaiah 43:16:
This is what the LORD says — He who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters…
Now I know Isaiah is talking about bringing the Israelites out of Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea, but it sure felt like this was describing the day we were about to experience. We cross-matched every weather service to try to determine when the best time to ride would be, but in the end it didn’t matter: we were going to get wet. Really wet. I’m not sure what every rider experienced, but I would estimate that about half of my ride was in the rain and about half of that was in heavy rain. Thunder (in the distance, a safe distance) added to the effect. It didn’t matter what rain gear you had, you were going to get soaked through.
Admittedly, if I was at home I’d have taken a pass on riding today. But now that we’ve finished, it is exhilarating and we had lots of stories to share about that different ways we experienced the rain and we’ll get to continue telling the story about today for a long time. We will likely all sleep really well tonight as well. Another plus.
There are other things that I want to share:
·Every rider arrived safely in Collinwood. God was faithful in protecting us.
·The support crew were guardian angels constantly driving the route and checking on us. John Hamilton probably passed me in his car five times today (he went back and forth) and other drivers were also driving the route.
· First great conversation – with Jon Hubers (my riding buddy) – where we pondered one of my favorite questions: Was Jesus Necessary? The short answer: if God sent Him, he must have been necessary and the implications of this are enormous, but not the subject of this blog.
·Second great conversation: hearing Ann Coleman share her Fuller Center testimony of how God pulled her in permanently to the mission of Fuller Center.
Riding the Natchez Trace is truly a great experience, but as every rider learns, the Trace isn’t what brings you back, it’s the people. The people involved directly and indirectly in the mission of Fuller Center.