Follow the Signs: Thoughts on Savior, Lead Me Lest I Stray


I do those 30 and 60 mile bike tours every now and then. A few years ago I did the 60-mile bike tour for MS in New York. The weather on the day of the ride was absolutely perfect for the ride. Arrows posted all along the route showed us the way to go. The ride took us through Manhattan, from the South Street Seaport, up the FDR, across town, down the West Side Highway, into the Lincoln Tunnel (you haven’t lived until you’ve coasted at 35-40 MPH through the Lincoln Tunnel), through Hoboken and Edgewater, New Jersey, and into the Palisades.

I stop here, because this is where today’s adventure begins.

The Palisades, for those who don’t know it, is a National Recreation Area in New Jersey. It’s a beautiful bit of wilderness running along a cliff facing New York City. At certain points in the Palisades, you can look down and see a great view of Manhattan.

I knew I was in for a bit of a challenge, because even when I drive up the Palisades, I get exhausted. Now, here I was with a mountain bike and legs that had already ridden about 45 miles, against these mountains.

I gave it the old college try. I rode up until my legs gave out. Then, I took the bike and walked up. My average speed of 12-15 MPH suddenly went down, as I trudged up the mountain at 1-2 MPH. Still, there was no turning back.

I’d made it past the roughest parts of the trail. Now, there were a bunch of roads that were mostly downhill. There was one in particular where I just coasted and coasted downhill. But suddenly, something seemed wrong.

All through the ride, I had always had at least 3-4 bikers within shouting distance. Suddenly, I was all by myself.

Then I realized—I haven’t seen an arrow in quite some time.

Panic started to set in. A few minutes later, I saw two guys with bike jerseys in the distance walking up the hill with their bikes.

“MS Bike Tour?” they asked.
“Yep,” I responded.

We didn’t have to say any more. We had all missed a turn somewhere. I joined them in the arduous trek back up the hill.

Admittedly, I looked down that hill, and it looked awful tempting to keep going down. I looked up the hill, to where my missed turn was, and I wasn’t looking forward to yet again proving Newton’s Third Law. But I swallowed hard, got off my seat, and walked my bike with the other guys back to the point we all missed, probably a good mile up the hill.

We got to the intersection. Surely enough, the sign was there, but really hard to see. We got on our bikes. It made me a little late, but I still finished the ride, back over the George Washington Bridge, and down to Chelsea Piers. I had finished my own triathalon—I biked, I walked, and I crawled. But I finished.

Sometimes God’s will is very clear. But quite often, even after things have been made abundantly clear to us, we still want to press forward with our own way.

I’ve been in that boat many times, as I’m sure you have too. I’d want something with all my heart. I’d be convinced that it is the best thing for me. I’d try my best to achieve it. I’d even pray and pray asking God to make that thing happen in my life.

But everything would fall apart.

But, I’d press on. Maybe…maybe God didn’t hear me. I’ll pray harder. I’ll spend day and night hoping and hoping for what I want. After all, I know what’s best for myself, right? I know what “feels right” to me. And that must be the best for me.

I guess as I get older, I realize something. I don’t know what’s best for myself at all. Because feelings lie.

The funny thing is, I look at my life today, and…I like it. A lot. And I wouldn’t have gotten to this point had I not gone through the uphill climbs, the soreness, the fatigue. Had I had a choice, I would never have faced any of those things. But I did, and it made me who I am today.

We can only see what’s right in front of me. We don’t know the twists and turns on the road ahead. Sure, there might be a road where the arrow points to the left, but the downhill slope straight ahead is just so tempting you want to ignore the sign and speed down the slope. But if you do that, be prepared to crawl back up.

Are there things I wish I had that I don’t have? Of course. But it’s just not time for that arrow yet. I’ll keep an eye out for the arrow, and when the time comes, I’ll follow it, just as I’ve followed the others that have gotten me to where I am. The one who placed the arrows there knows the right road to lead me to the finish line and the goody bag.
1.
Savior, lead me, lest I stray,
Gently lead me all the way;
I am safe when by Thy side,
I would in Thy love abide.

Refrain
Lead me, lead me, Savior, lead me lest I stray;
Gently down the stream of time,
Lead me, Savior, all the way.

2.
Thou the refuge of my soul
When life’s stormy billows roll;
I am safe when Thou art nigh,
All my hopes on Thee rely.

Refrain

3.
Savior, lead me, then at last,
When the storm of life is past,
To the land of endless day,
Where all tears are wiped away.

Refrain