As you can tell from the video there are all kinds of motorcycles. Some are really nice and cost a lot of money and some are just basic transportation. But they are all motorcycles, that is they are cycles, and they have motors and for the most part, they do the same job, they get you from point “A” to point “B”. Some might be a little prettier or more comfortable than others. There might be some comforts on some that are missing on others, but the basics are there.
And so, they are a lot like life in general. All our lives are different. Your life is different than mine, it might be easier, or it might be tougher. Or perhaps more accurately it might be perceived as being easier or tougher.
You understand that we are all given a life to live and each one of us decides what we are going to do with it. Songwriter and singer Joan Baez said “You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, or when. You can decide how you’re going to live now.” Each of our lives is different but it is a life and it’s the only one we get.
I drove my first motorcycle when I was twelve and bought my first motorcycle when I was fifteen. And I’ve owned five bikes through the years and my bikes usually fit in the basic category, there are bikes out there that are a lot worse and there are bikes around that are a lot nicer. This is a Ducati Desmosedici D16RR NCR M16 worth $300,000.00 Canadian, but that does include tax. And if that is still a little too pedestrian for your taste this, the Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter sold at auction last year for 11 million dollars, and they were American dollars.
This summer the staff has been preaching some of our favourite messages, this message is entitled “Life is like a Motorcycle” and it was written for our first Bring your Bike to church day that we celebrated when I still owned a motorcycle. Like all of my messages it is posted on Sermon Central and each spring I get requests to use it for various motorcycle-related services.
I don’t know all there is to know about your life, I don’t know what you’ve suffered, the abuse you’ve had to endure or the poverty and illness that you have experienced, but I can almost guarantee you that there are other people in this world that have it worse than you, they might even be in this very room.
And maybe you haven’t had it rough, and maybe you have. Or maybe you think you are pretty privileged today. And maybe you are, but there are a lot of people out there who have had it rougher than you and a lot who have had it easier than you.
There are people who have had an incredibly horrible life and have risen above it and others who were born into a life of privilege and have squandered it away.
That my friends is life and while we may not all have a motorcycle today or even want one, We all have a life. And life is made up of choices and decisions that are made.
Every once in a while I’d be talking to someone and they would tell me how lucky I was to have a motorcycle and how they wished they did.
And for the most part, most of them could probably have a bike like mine or nicer if they really wanted it. And luck would have very little to do with it. But that’s neither here nor there.
And as different as all motorcycles are they all have something in common, we get on them at the beginning of our journey and we get off at the end and in between it is all a matter of balance. And here is a truth, we come into this world headfirst and go out feet first; in between, it is all a matter of balance. To use a not too spiritual statement we each have to play the hand we’ve been dealt.
So let’s start with the fact that 1) It’s Supposed To Be Fun. Here’s the reality, we might tell people we ride because of the great mileage we get but my Toyota got better mileage than my Yamaha did.
We might justify our rides by saying it keeps the mileage off our cars, and that’s important but not that important in the rain and cold. We might attempt to make an environmental or economic case for riding, but the reality is if it wasn’t fun, we wouldn’t be doing it. Catching the bus is a lot more economical and better for the environment and I’m pretty sure if you checked with a random sampling of bike riders, there wouldn’t be a bus pass in the bunch.
There is something about the wind and sun and the freedom on a bike that makes you want to grin when you crank the throttle. The bottom line is riding a motorcycle is fun.
And life is supposed to be fun, I know that through the years there have been philosophers and theologians who have disagreed with that premise. Their philosophy is basically “Life is hard and then you die.” But King Solomon who was called the wisest man who ever lived said in Ecclesiastes 3:22 So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.
But just look around, we live in a world of beauty. We have the capacity to love and be loved. We can create things of beauty and things to make life easier. God is not some sadistic entity who created mankind just so he could watch us be miserable.
The winner, in the long run, is not the person who gets the most years in their life but the person who gets the most life in their years. It was Samuel Butler who said, “All animals, except man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it.” Life is supposed to be fun. It was Hunter S. Thompson who wrote, “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: ‘Wow! What a ride!’”
Take the time to enjoy your life. Stop and smell the roses, admire the sunrise and sunset smile at someone and watch them smile back.
2) Sometimes It Isn’t The summer we got married we were poor, not for long but for a while. We weren’t destitute, we both had jobs making minimum wage but there were three weeks or so while we were waiting for our first paycheques that things were a little tight. That was compounded by the fact that our primary mode of transportation was a 1973 Plymouth Fury Grand Sedan with a 440 cubic inch engine with 4-barrel carbs and a voracious appetite.
About a week before our first cheque came in, while we were still convinced at 21 and 22 years of age that we could live on love and Kraft dinner I had to drive about 200 kilometres for an interview. We decided that the wisest use of our meagre resources might not be gas for Garfield, we still named our cars at that stage in our lives. A friend of mine had a Honda 250 street and trail that he was willing to lend me. The ride to the interview was glorious, it was a beautiful June day, the sun was on my face and it was a wonderful windy road.
However coming home that night at 10:30 was a different story, it was cold, and there were more bugs than I’ve ever seen, halfway home I had to stop at a farmhouse that had its lights on to wash the bugs off my helmet visor and my butt was sore from the skinny little hard seat on the Honda and it was no fun at all, none at all, not even in the further recesses of my imagination.
And when I finally got home that night, I had had about all the motorcycling that I wanted for a while.
And the reality is that life is like that, it is supposed to be fun but sometimes it isn’t.
There are times when life is hard, it’s cold out, your butt is sore and the visor on your helmet is covered in bugs. And that is life. We don’t always place first, we don’t always have a job we love and we don’t always marvel at the beauty of the day.
There are times that you are fighting with your spouse, the kids are giving you a hard time and your boss is a jerk. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning and face life, but it will get better.
Every mountain has a top, every storm has an end, every night has a dawn. King David, who you’ll remember from last week wrote most of the Psalms in the Bible, went through dark times. Times when his friends had deserted him and his former mentor was trying to kill him, and you thought you were having a bad day, but he wrote in Psalm 30:5 Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Understand that right now life might stink but that’s not the way it is supposed to be and that’s not the way it will be forever.
3) Sometimes It’s Scary. I enjoy riding motorcycles, but there are times that it scares me, I go into a corner a little too fast, and for me that doesn’t have to be that fast. I hit a crack in the road and my front wheel goes . . . or it starts to rain and the road is a little greasy. And not only is it no fun it is downright scary. My pulse goes up, my heart changes places and for a brief moment, I contemplate my own mortality. And while I’m not afraid of dying in a motorcycle accident, I am afraid of almost dying in a motorcycle accident.
What scares me on a motorcycle is the same thing that scared me when I was flying or riding horses and the same thing that scares me in life and on water slides and that is not being in control.
When Angela and one of our kids or grandkids is sick and I can’t do anything, that’s scary because I have no control over that. And it’s times like that that I have to realize that I’m not supposed to be in control that God is. And the tough thing is letting go and turning it over to God. Because whether we want to admit it or not in most of those cases there is nothing we can do anyways.
When you are scared in life, take a step back and ask yourself what it is that scares you. It will be one of two things; it will be something over which you have some control, and you need to work on it or it’s something over which you have no control whatsoever and at that point, you need to give it to God and pray for the best. The promise then is 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
4) It’s Easier When You Take the Course. Whenever anyone tells me they have bought or are buying a motorcycle the first thing I ask them is “Have you taken the course.” In 1986 Angela wanted to learn how to ride my bike and I said, “No problem if you take the course.” When I bought my last motorcycle, both of our kids had their driver’s licences and they asked if they could get their bike licences and I said “Sure, if you take the “Course”
The course is the Canadian Safety Council Motorcycle safety course here is the website. And I think if you buy a motorcycle and get your licence and don’t take the course you are a complete idiot.
Now I have a confession to make, I didn’t take the course. When I first got on a motorcycle, they were made from trees with stone wheels and there was no course. So, I learned the tough way by falling off and getting back on and falling over and getting back up and laying my bike down and brushing off the gravel and the blood. And you can do it that way but it’s tougher on bodies and motorcycles and sometimes you die.
In the course, they teach you the basics, how to make your bike go and how to make your bike stop. They show you what to do in an emergency and how to stay in control. They tell you what you should do, and they tell you what you shouldn’t do and they teach you how to maintain your balance. You learn just about everything you will need to ride a motorcycle and you won’t have to fall off to do it.
Now it doesn’t guarantee that you will never have an accident or never lay your bike down, sometimes people do dumb things even when they know better and there is nothing you can do about other people out there, but it sure makes the odds better for you if you know what you are doing.
Sometimes I hear people say “You can be a Christian and not go to church.” Ok, maybe. Although you shouldn’t forget what it says in Hebrews 10:25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
And nowhere in the Bible is there evidence or support for a solitary religion. Instead, we are told the church did this, or the church did that. We are told that we need one another, and we are told to support one another and the one another implies that there is more than simply you.
Believers are compared to individual parts of the body never as a complete body on their own. So, we get together to worship God and to praise him, but we can do those things alone, the main reason we get together is to learn. We learn how to get started in our faith, things that we need to begin to do like reading our bible and praying. Things that we need to stop doing. We learn what to do and what not to do and we learn how to maintain our balance.
And that is critical both on a motorcycle and in our Christian walk. When I meet people who do church by themselves the thing that usually jumps out is a lack of balance. They lean one way or another and a lot of times it is a misinterpretation of a particular text. One of the chief functions of studying God’s word with other believers is that we get added input.
The bible wasn’t written to be read in isolation as a matter of fact it was hundreds of years after the fact that a believer could actually have their own copy of the word of God. In the beginning, there would be a corporate copy and it would be read out loud and then it would be discussed. And believers would ask each other “What do you think this means or what do you think that means.” If you find someone who tells you, they have it all figured out and they don’t need any help in understanding the word of God, that is pure arrogance and they are probably dangerous.
And the bible isn’t just a user’s guide for our Christian faith; it is a user’s guide for life. Remember what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16–17 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
So, if you are a believer and you don’t read your bible and you don’t join with other believers to get fed from the Bible you are treading on dangerous ground. We need to be able to say as David did in Psalm 119:15–16 I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.
And so, when we join together in various life groups and study the bible the most important question we can ask is, “what is this saying to me today?”
Let’s keep going, Jesus told us in John’s gospel, John 15:13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but this leads to our last point, which is 5) Don’t forget the church in your will.
Oh no that is totally self-serving, I don’t know where that came from, what I meant to say was 5) Sign Your Donor Card This goes for riding a motorcycle and life in general. When you are through with this shell you aren’t going to need it anymore, but someone else might be able to use the leftovers. I heard someone refer to motorcycles one time as donorcycles and there’s a little bit of truth in that because usually when someone dies in a motorcycle accident, they are young and healthy.
A number of years ago we seemed to have a spat of motorcycle fatalities and one evening we heard about a motorcycle fatality in Bayer’s Lake, and just a few hours later a friend called me to say that liver that he needed for a transplant had been found. That didn’t make the accident any less tragic, but it made someone else life better.
This last point really doesn’t have a great deal of spiritual application, although we might be able to draw an analogy for sharing your faith. There is no good reason to not sign the organ donation line on your health care card. After all, as someone said, “Don’t think of it as you giving a part of yourself to keep someone else alive, it’s someone else giving most of themselves to keep a part of you alive.”
So, I’d say be generous in life but also be generous in death.
So, where you at today?