Started February, 2020
My brother Chris had just turned 14, and I was 17. Mama and Daddy must have had quite a discussion leading up to this day. They had driven us to the edge of the Missouri River on the west side of Kansas City. Now out of the car and well equipped, we rode our bicycles over the bridge heading into Kansas. Then my gear switcher, the derailleur, broke. I was stuck in high gear. We pulled up at the other end of the bridge. Dad saw that something was wrong and followed us down the road. He whispered “What’s wrong?” I told him. Then he said, “Don’t tell your mother.”
It was up to me to fix the problem. A good thought came to me. My best friend Mark, from Potter Junior High in California, had an uncle on that side of the river who owned a bike shop. Back in those days, little shops had the owner’s phone number painted on the door in case of emergency. He was closed because it was Sunday, but he jumped into his car and came to fix the problem. Finally, we started on our way to ride across half the USA to California.
Getting started is the hardest part of almost anything we do in life. A 737 climbing into the sky uses a larger tonnage of fuel per minute getting up to altitude than it does while cruising. The plane is pushing through thicker air when on the runway than the thinner air at higher altitudes. As the heavy fuel is burned off, the jet gets lighter and requires less. The momentum shift of the plane after acceleration is a change that you can literally feel in the seat of your pants.
Any parent can tell you the toughest part of trimming a baby’s fingernails is facing the dread that accompanies the assignment. I was more of a nervous wreck the second time than I was the first time I grabbed the clippers for this delicate job. It had to be done and it was entrusted to none other than me. In many respects, it will always be one of the tiniest missions of my life, and the most frightening.
God expects us to move in his will, but He rarely shows us the end result before we start. One pastor said, “God shows me my mission one moment at a time.” As long as we are obeying Him, it is unnecessary for us to know every step along the path. Getting started is the hardest thing to do especially when it is a major change in the way that our life is conducted.
My brother and I couldn’t have known that out ahead of us on June 16th, 1965, the Platte River had flooded from Littleton, Colorado to the Nebraska border. By the time we had ridden some 600 miles across Kansas and part of Colorado, we came to this area of utter devastation. It was physically tough going through that stretch because of the mud we had to trudge through. The emotional impact was far more draining. We were literally walking through the wreckage of people’s lives. Dead animals everywhere, rail tanker cars wrapped around bridge abutments like tin foil toys, and smashed homes littered the plains.
Had we known in Kansas City what lay ahead we likely would not have started. That is why God does not show us everything at once. It is hard enough to start. It would be easier not to begin at all. With knowledge in advance of the challenges we would face why would we set any plan in motion? Even on a mission, God is amazingly gracious. He knows us. He cares.