I went for a bike ride today to try out some new equipment I purchased. I picked up a new pair of cycling shoes and the clipless petals and cleats. For those that don’t know, the cleats screw into the bottom of the cycling shoes and clip into the clipless petals. Yes, they clip into the clipless petals (maybe I’ll save that for another post). Anyway, I headed south on the canal for a short ride. At first I was only looking to get the feel for clipping in and out of my new petals, but I quickly realized that I haven’t been on my bike in a while and despite the fact that it was only 54 degrees, I decided to make it into a longer trip than I had first planned.
In all I rode about 25 miles taking the canal as far south as it would go. I passed MetroCenter and the Castles and Coaster theme park, I passed several families out riding their bikes together. My feet began to hurt because of the new shoes. They fit great, but using them caused me to work muscles in my feet that I don’t normally use. I found myself wanting to quit after just ten miles, but I pushed on.
After I had reached the end of the canal and turned around to head back north, I noticed the sun was going down. The skies here are usually clear and the sun sets aren’t always impressive, but today it was overcast and the sky was turning a beautiful purple. I was truly beginning to enjoy the ride back when I noticed them; about ten or so homeless men scattered over a mile on the other side of the canal with tents and plastic tarps draped over a metal fence. On my left, amazing purple skies; on my right, homeless men settling in for the night against a backdrop of industrial buildings and dumpsters behind retail stores.
I asked myself many questions as I finished the ride home. Why are these men homeless? What should I do to help? Can I do anything to truly help these men? Do they want help? How does God see these men? How does God see me? What does God think when I put on my brand new jacket, my new head band, my new shoes, climb on to my $500 bike and complain about how cold it is, at the same time these men look for the best spot to pitch a tent for the night in a canal? I even found myself wondering why a caring loving God would allow men to sleep in the cold.
I could look left at Purple Skies, or right at homeless men, men made in the image of God; Look left or look right. I can feel myself embarking on a path with many splits, many choices, many outcomes. I feel forces within me pulling and pushing me. God sends Purple Skies painted across hundreds of miles; in return I paint Him a picture as well. I was made in His image, but do I reflect Him? I’m not happy with the image I sent Him in return for the Purple Skies He sent me.
I realize now that I was not standing between two pictures, one of majestic skies and the other of misfortunate men; I was in the middle of one picture looking at Purple Skies. I was looking at His work, and I believe He was looking for mine.