Hi, this is Pastor Ken, I want to welcome you to my Thoughts on a Thursday Podcast where I take some regular occurrence or personal story from my life and connect it to a scriptural truth. So here are my thoughts on this Thursday, September 14th 2023…Dragon Slayers

This past week my wife Lynn and I slayed a dragon. Let me explain. Most of you know that I love to ride motorcycles. I have been riding them for about 45 years now and I hope my years of riding will continue to accumulate until I leave this old world behind at a ripe old age. I love riding motorcycles. In fact, the only driving experience better than riding a motorcycle is riding a motorcycle in the mountains. Just a few weeks before we married, I took Lynn on her first motorcycle ride in the mountains near Roanoke, Virginia. That first ride for her was the ride to end all rides…at least it might have been. We drove up a winding mountain road with sheer drop-off cliffs on one side and bare rock faces that rose directly upward on the other. We may or may not have come close to running off of the side of the road that highlighted the drop off view. We rode that day in the high mountains of the famed Blue Ridge Parkway, were she came to understands that though it may have been plenty warm when you left, you might need a jacket just 20 minutes later up in the higher elevations. We got caught in a scattered thunderstorm and spent some time wringing out our clothes under an overpass, and we concluded the ride back to my aunt and uncle’s house drying out on a busy interstate at highway speeds. I honestly thought that she would never ride again after that first outing, but she has been happily accompanying me on some great motorcycle rides for the past 23 years. She is far tougher than her beautiful looks and sweet demeanor elude to.

This sweet girl joined me yet again last week to spend multiple days riding in the southwestern Virginia mountains. Last Tuesday we decided to cross a particular road off from my bucket list of mountain rides. Route 16 is a winding two-lane road that runs kind of north and south from Wilkesboro, N.C. to Sophia, W.V. The 32 mile section between Marion and Tazewell, Virginia is known as “The Back of The Dragon”. On that short stretch of road, a driver will turn in excess of 400 times, rise and fall a total of 3,500 feet in elevation all while climbing and descending three successive mountains. Those crests make up the three mythological humps of the back of the dragon. Many of the 438 curves leave no time for the motorcycle to return to its upright position before requiring the riders to lean deeply into the next one. There are times when the length of road visible ahead may be significantly less than 100 feet. It is an awesome ride, but definitely not for the novice, or the faint-of-heart. We managed to cover the distance in just over an hour which is not anywhere near a record, but respectable none-the-less.

There is nothing strait about that road. At times, the ability to traverse it while “Keeping the rubber down and the shiny side up” is nothing less than instinctual. When riding it you really do rely on what is hopefully years of experience to guide each move. If you ride it from south to north as we did, as you near the end of the journey you round the easiest and gentlest of the curves on the entire route as they bring you 180 degrees twice through an enjoyable “S” curve called Kudzu Corner, named for all of the trees and shrubs entangled and overtaken by the Kudzu vines. It is truly majestic. As we rode through those easiest of all of the turns, I was able to ride without the formerly required incredible levels of concentration. In the midst of my mental rest as we exited Kudzu Curve, a well-known scripture came to mind. Proverbs 3:5-6 in the New American Standard Bible says; Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

I had just finished driving 32 miles where nothing about my path had been strait. As a result, in that moment I was well aware of the high stress level I had been under for the duration. My hands were numb and tingling, and my knuckles unnaturally white from gripping the handlebars so tightly. My shoulder muscles were twisted tighter than rope from holding the motorcycle down in the turns and then pulling the handlebars up, only to force them downward immediately in the opposite direction. Don’t get me wrong…it was fun, but in that moment what I felt knowing I had completed the ride safe and sound and had not caused any injury to my sweet, sweet bride was nothing short of total relief.

Our lives can be like old Virginia route 16 sometimes. Some days it seems like life throws one curve after another at us, and it’s hard to know if you are coming or going, rising or falling, as you try to navigate with seemingly no time to anticipate what is ahead. While motorcyclists can and do rely on instinct much of the time in curvy road situations, it can get them in trouble on occasion. In life’s twists and turns if we rely on our own understanding an error causing difficulty beyond easy recovery is likely to be just around the corner.

This scripture says that trusting in the Lord is far better than relying on our instincts. The Lord knows what is ahead for us, not only just around the bend, but into the perpetuity of eternity. Jesus said He is the beginning and the end. (Revelation 22:13) It would be incorrect of us though, to interpret that to mean that Jesus was at the beginning and will be at the end, that would mean that Jesus is encompassed by time. Jesus is greater than time…Jesus created time…Jesus is the beginning and is the end because Jesus encompasses even time. With such an omniscient Lord, we can trust Him to guide us forward far more than we can trust ourselves to know what lies ahead where we cannot yet see. If we will learn to do this, we learn what it means to walk by faith and not by sight as referenced by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:7.

What does it mean exactly to heed the instruction found in Provers 5:6? In all your ways acknowledge Him… It means we have to recognize who He is; Lord of lords, King of kings, Master, Friend, sweet, sweet Savior. It means we have to be cognizant of what He is; Loving, Merciful, Gracious, Holy, altogether Righteous, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Unchangeable, Ever-present God. It means we have to; interact with Him, follow Him, love Him, respect Him, and give Him the credit and glory He rightly deserves. The conclusion of that verse says that if you will do all of that in regards to Christ, He will make your paths strait. Does that mean that there won’t be any more unexpected twists and turns? Does that mean you will always know what is coming before you get to it? Not at all! Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble”. (John 16:33) There will always be the need to look out for falling rock around the bend, just like the ones I had to swerve to avoid on our motorcycle ride last week. But if we Acknowledge Him and allow Him to make our paths strait, it does mean that we can trust Him to lead us directly to and through His planned path for our life. That reminds me of another passage found in Isaiah 46:10; Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My plan will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.

The bible says that God has a plan for each of our lives, one that includes our very best. He wants to see us develop fully into the person He was thinking about when He so fearfully and wonderfully created each of us in our mother’s womb. But He won’t ever force His plan onto your life. You have to be willing to Acknowledge that He is God, He is Lord of your life and then just as He promised He will direct your paths strait into all that He has for you!

So now, Acknowledge Him for who and what He is to you and let Him make your paths strait and…Go Be Awesome!