Tag Archives: upheavals



I was riding my bike along the Rideau River cycle path, pedaling through familiar parkland, on the last leg of my half-hour ride home from work.  The river was on my right, partly obscured by a narrow strip of wooded land. A strip of open parkland was on my left. There was the usual after-work traffic along the cycle path, but nothing to suggest that an accident was about to happen. Everything seemed perfectly normal.

I had two meetings that evening – both quite important. I was enjoying the ride, but I wanted to get home, get showered and changed, and prepare for the evening.

Then it happened. As is often the case with accidents, there was little warning. My attention was focussed on an oncoming cyclist on the other side of the pathway, and I was adjusting my position accordingly. There were also some pedestrians on or near the path, and I was conscious of needing to avoid them as well. Consequently, I wasn’t looking to my right, or I might have noticed some movement in the bushes by the river. Suddenly a mid-size dog bounded out of the bushes onto the path directly in front of me. The next thing I remember, I was on the ground, screaming in pain. I had gone down hard. All the major joints on my right side – shoulder, elbow, hip and knee – were throbbing.

After half a minute or so, I managed to get up, and found to my relief that I could still move my shoulder. This was my first concern, as four years previously I had dislocated a shoulder in a similar accident.  I was a little dazed, and had painful scrapes and road rash all along my right side, but had no serious injuries. Several people stopped to make sure I was all right. I thanked them all and told them I would be OK.

I checked out my bike and found that it was basically intact. So, after waiting a few minutes for the pain to subside to a tolerable level, I got back on the bike and rode the short distance home – a wounded warrior seeking comfort and shelter. I have never been more happy to reach the safety and familiarity of my own back yard.

After I had showered and washed my wounds, Marion bandaged the worst one and put ointment on the others. But it wasn’t until she asked me “Is your head OK?” that I realized something remarkable. My head did not hurt at all. It was totally fine. I did have a few seconds of very mild lightheadedness, but absolutely no pain and no symptoms of concussion. Then we both realized that I ought to take a look at my helmet. I took a look at it, and saw two cracks on the right side – a little one and a big one.

When I thought about the cracks in my helmet, I realized that I had been protected from what could have been very serious harm. A bruised hip and shoulder, and scrapes along the elbow and knee, are really no big deal. Today, four days later, I am well on the way to recovery from all these minor wounds. But if I had landed hard on the pavement without a helmet, who knows what the outcome would have been?

Paul the apostle wrote many letters of advice and instruction to young churches full of new Christians living in a hostile world. He knew he needed to give them plenty of hope and encouragement. He told these new believers that they were like stars in a dark night sky. He told them that in the midst of the darkness of a corrupt and dying world, they were children of the day who could look forward to the glorious new world that God had promised. He also said that in the midst of the struggles of living in a culture that was mostly hostile to their faith and values, they could equip themselves by putting on faith and love like a breastplate, and the hope of salvation like a helmet. In this way their hearts and minds would be protected.

Marion rightly reminds me that I need to wear my bike helmet every time I go out on my bike. I confess that in the past, on occasion I have not worn it when I was going for only a short ride on a hot day in the neighbourhood. On those muggy July days, a helmet is hot and sweaty, and sometimes you don’t want to wear it. But since my recent accident, my helmet has proved its value to me, and I will wear it every time I ride my bike. There was no way I could have predicted my accident of a few days ago. I could need my helmet at any moment.

In my email inbox I receive daily bulletins detailing some of the struggles of Christ-followers in lands where being a Christian makes you a public enemy. When your home could be burned, your pastor could be jailed, your daughter could be raped or forced into a marriage she does not want simply because you and your family are Christians, you need a hope that circumstances can’t destroy. You can’t wait until persecution hits to secure yourself with this hope. The hope of salvation has to be your daily companion, because you could need it at any moment.

Sometimes, we don’t feel like turning off the TV or the laptop or the tablet or the smartphone to immerse ourselves in the Word of God. Sometimes we’d rather entertain ourselves than feed our spirits with worship. Christians in Canada have it pretty easy and our need for the hope of salvation may not seem all that pressing. But what are you going to do when your mother dies, or your father gets laid off, or your best friend is on drugs, or your marriage is falling apart, or your employer goes bankrupt, or you are facing sexual temptation, or someone in your life needs hope and you have none to give? What would you give for an intimate knowledge of God when disaster comes? If you have no real life with God – if your “faith, hope and love account” is bankrupt – what will you do when your next door neighbour or your friend at work or school is hungry for answers? What will you have to feed them if your cupboard is bare? And what will you do when persecution comes to Canada? What will you do when Jesus returns? How will you answer him?

I could take my helmet with me and strap it onto the back of my bike, and say that I have my helmet so I’m OK, but it wouldn’t do me any good. You may say you believe the Bible is the Word of God, but if you don’t read it, it does you no good. As for me, I can truthfully say that I know the Word of God quite well. But if I don’t pay attention to the Word I know, it doesn’t do me a bit of good. I can say that I know Jesus, but if I don’t listen to Him, what good is it? I know lots of worship songs, but if I don’t take time to worship the Lord with my whole being, what good are the songs?

The only way that I know of to put on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet is to do it every day. Every day I need to turn to Jesus, renew my mind with His word, turn away from distractions and pour out my heart to Him in worship. Daily I need to be quiet with Him and listen to what He wants to say to me. This is how my hope stays fresh and bright and alive. Even two or three days without setting time aside to give my full attention to Jesus, and I can tell the difference.

I can’t afford to ride my bike without a helmet. It’s foolish. My helmet is my protection. I know that now, and I will never ride without it again.

In just the same way, I can’t afford to travel the pathways of life without wearing the helmet of the hope of salvation. I need to anchor myself in Jesus every day. He is ready to protect me, empower me and fill me with hope so that I’m ready for every circumstance – but it’s up to me to put on my helmet.



When God puts your life on hold

My son Joe broke his ankle last weekend.  We were visiting friends from our former house church in Russell, and had planned a game of ball hockey on the outdoor court in our old neighbourhood.  We had done this dozens of times before, with lots of spills, but never any injuries.  But this time, Joe slipped on a patch of ice, his feet went out from under him, he landed heavily on his ankle and immediately screamed in pain.  Joe doesn’t admit to pain easily so I knew something was wrong.  The rest of the weekend was a blur, with much time spent in hospital waiting rooms.   X Rays revealed that his ankle was broken in three places, and surgery was required.  The good news is that the breaks were clean and because he is young and got looked after on time, there is an excellent chance of full recovery.  The bad news is that he is suddenly disabled and can do very little for himself in the meantime.   The new job that he was to begin later this week will have to wait; most of his activities and plans are on hold; and his finances are affected, because his income is interrupted while most of his expenses continue.

And Joe’s not the only one whose life has been affected by his accident!  I had just begun 3 weeks off work when Joe had his accident.  I had plans for my holiday time.  And guess what?  Most of those plans have also been on hold for the past five days.   My wife Marion and I have been busy caring for Joe, readjusting our household to handle the needs of a convalescent, providing for unexpected expenses, and managing all kinds of details that he can’t manage for himself.   Then there’s the OC Transpo bus strike – like many people, we are now driving our daughter to school, which takes several hours out of each day.

Not that I’m complaining – as I reflect on our situation I realize that we are blessed.  All our needs are met.  But our priorities have suddenly been adjusted for us, and we had no control over the process.  All our plans were on hold for several days, until we got more of a handle on these unexpected new challenges; some of our longer-term plans have been delayed considerably; and all of Joe’s plans are on hold for several weeks.

So what do you do when God puts your life on hold?

When the Angel Gabriel came to visit Mary, the mother of Jesus, and announced to her that she would be the mother of the Messiah, her life was put on hold in a big way.   Nothing would ever be the same again.  From this point onward, all of her plans would revolve around this new agenda that God had assigned to her.   And God didn’t really give her a choice – He didn’t ask her opinion about this new arrangement.

If Mary had been like many of today’s Christians in the freedom-loving Western world, she probably would have complained.   “A baby?  I don’t want to have a baby yet.  I’m not ready to settle down – I have plans”.   We like to think that we should have a choice about everything.   But Mary was wiser than we usually are.  Woman of faith that she was, she recognized that she did have a choice.  She had the choice to fight God or to surrender to His purposes.   In a split-second she had made up her mind – she knew what to do.

” I am the Lord’s servant”, she replied.  ” May it be to me as you have said. “

Her response changed everything.  Because she was willing, salvation became possible for us.  Because she was willing, the Messiah could enter history and transform it from a story of despair to a story of hope for all who would put their trust in Him.

Joe knows that God has put him on hold for a reason.  He’s been set aside for a season so that he can slow down and take stock of where he has been and where he is headed.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t believe God caused this accident.   The Dark Lord, not God, is the author of mischief and confusion and all forms of wrong.   And we don’t have to be afraid, because those who belong to God are under His protection.  But sometimes, instead of totally preventing the Tempter from touching His people, God allows him limited access to our lives as a kind of test – a challenge, an opportunity for us to rise up and win a victory.

For Joe – and for Marion and me – this unexpected setback is proving to be a blessing, an opportunity to say “Yes” to God.   Did I want this to happen?  No, but in the midst of unexpected circumstances, I can truly say that I am blessed, and so thankful to belong to a God who has a greater purpose that He weaves in and through all events for those who trust Him.