Sunday, June 29, 2014

A surrey and a smile

At the Peninsula in Erie there are a variety of ways to get out and enjoy the beauty of the lake and the unspoiled joys of nature. Running, kayaking, beach-bumming and biking are just a few of the options available to the outdoorsy one who wants a day out enjoying God's green earth. If none of those activities sound like your cup of tea might I suggest another more enticing excursion for your trip to the Peninsula?
A surrey with the fringe on top.
For a security deposit and hourly fee you, my friend, can go cruising down the bike paths of the beautiful Lake Erie Peninsula. Bring your friends because this buggy is made for sharing! The front can hold a few little passengers whose legs are too short to pedal. The bench seats (you can get your surrey with multiple rows!) may be a little on the flat side but you won't mind the lack of cushioning when you're laughing with your friends. Bumps will throw you into fits of laughter and steering is sure to be a comical experience.
But most of all on your surrey adventure your legs are sure to get a workout. Every incline will feel like a mountain even if it is only a 1% incline. Let's just say that a surrey isn't made for off-roading and certainly not mountain climbing. Stick to the well paved path and even then you'll experience a stretching of your endurance and muscular capability.
I was reminded of the challenge the surrey provides while running yesterday along the path. Up in the distance I saw a slow moving surrey. Their speed would have made an inch worm's crawl look like a sprint. They moved so slowly the fringes on the surrey barely even swayed.
As I approached the surrey I expected to see a couple of exasperated parents struggling under the weight of a cumbersome, oversized bike and a couple of ride-along children. But what I found when I surveyed the faces of the pedaling parents was not frustration, angst or even weariness. What I saw was joy. I saw nothing but smiles.
The small incline that surrey had to climb was nothing monumental but it was still producing a challenge, yet the peddlers kept an attitude of pleasure and joy even in the midst of their struggle. Their legs were suffering but their spirits were not. They just kept pedaling, kept laughing and kept enjoying the adventure of a ride down the path of the Peninsula.
At first the scene didn't strike me as anything unusual. After all it was a beautiful day for a ride and a little fringe goes a long was in making even a tiresome trip a fun one. Thinking back on that little scene I now see something in it that I didn't see at first: how I should live as a long-sufferer.
At times in life the inclines we must climb look overwhelmingly steep. Our legs grow tired, the humidity leaves us breathless and the weight feels like far too much to bear. We suffer and we suffer for what feels like an agonizingly long time. This can produce in the peddler, the one doing the suffering, like cruel torture and cause for dissatisfaction and despondency. But by looking on at a few parents peddling their children at the Peninsula I was reminded that long-suffering doesn't have to be and shouldn't be the cause for angst or grief. It should be faced with a smile and accepted with a joyful spirit.
This life of mine, and your's too, is a ride on a path ordained by God. We get the opportunity to jump on the surrey and ride along. But rider beware, there will be inclines, there will be bumps and sometimes the seat will feel terribly uncomfortable.
Let me encourage you to take heart and hold on, because this ride can be fun! Mount your surrey with a smile, embrace the bumps,  and push up every incline with a joyful spirit. You and I may suffer for what feels like forever. I suppose that's why it's called long-suffering. But while we suffer, even though it may be long, you and I can do so wearing a smile because we know that we're on an excursion with our Creator, Father and King who has planned for us a great adventure on His great path called life.

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