Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Joy of Being Accepted

Last year, we visited a neighborhood church. We hadn't been in the community long and were hoping to find some godly, like minded people. We prayed and asked God where He'd have us to go. He led us to Unity Baptist Church.

On our first Sunday visiting Unity, we met a lovely couple. There was an immediate bond between Cindy and I. It was too overwhelming to describe and clear evidence that God had ordained the relationship. As we grew to know Cindy and her husband, Dave, we learned they were part of a motorcycle ministry called F.A.I.T.H. Riders. They were kind enough to invite us to participate in some of the events, which we did. We were pleased to be accepted so quickly and to be welcomed into the F.A.I.T.H. Riders community so readily. Our acceptance was unique since neither my husband nor I own a motorcycle and neither of us ride. We knew this had to be part of God's plan. It became more clear as months passed and we watched His plan unfold.

I feel like I need to give you a little history here. I've always had a heart for bikers. Perhaps it's the rebel side of me from my youth or perhaps it's the adventure and freedom biking affords, I'm not sure which, but it really doesn't matter. I've always loved bikes and I've always loved riding. If anyone offered me a ride, I accepted. I've been on the back of Kawasakis, Suzukis, Hondas, and Yamahas. I've been on raggedy dirt bikes and lush comfy Goldwings. It didn't matter what type of bike, I loved them all, but I was never brave enough to learn to ride one on my own.

As I expressed my desire to love and support the F.A.I.T.H. Riders group, I was encouraged to do so but how could I do it? How could a non-biker relate to full time bikers? I prayed and asked God how I could help. He prompted me to offer my administrative skills and my gift of encouragement. I didn't know it at the time, but the Director of the Unity Baptist F.A.I.T.H. Riders had been praying and asking God for help with those very things!

As I talked with the Director and shared my heart, it was as if a landslide of ideas began to pour forth. We collaborated and began to work on finding ways to minister to the bikers in our area. Our efforts started out small but began to blossom and grow. God has used my willingness to be part of the group to not only bless me, but to bless others.

I am so grateful to be a part of the Unity Baptist F.A.I.T.H. Riders. They are a wonderful group of men and women who love the Lord. As I've watched them interact with each other, I've learned a lot. There is a special bond between bikers and a beautiful code of respect their share.

Although I don't know how to drive a motorcycle, I've always loved riding on the back of someone else's bike. There's no greater experience than feeling the wind in your face, the sun on your back, and freedom from worry and care. Those feelings have been magnified for me since having been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Three years ago, I thought my life was over. I was told I had stage 2B Invasive Ductal Carcinoma breast cancer. The cancer had not only invaded my breast, it had traveled to my lymph nodes. At 56, I prepared to die. But God in His magnificent grace, gave me a second chance. Instead of allowing me to go through the trauma of chemotherapy, debilitating illness, and eventually death, He allowed me to live! Now I'm not going to sugar coat the past 3 years and make them seem like they were a piece of cake, because they have been the most difficult years of my life, but I know He had more for me to do and that's why I'm still here. Cancer made me realize how precious each moment can be and that I'd taken a lot in life for granted. That's where F.A.I.T.H. Riders came in...

The F.A.I.T.H. Riders have filled a need in my life. They're not just a passing fancy or a weekend hobby, they've become a vital part of my life's ministry. I find joy being able to pray for the special needs of the members. I look forward to waking up in the morning and writing mini-devotionals for their Facebook page. I am honored to be able to maintain and update their blog. And although I'm not a REAL biker, I've been accepted into their group.

Today, as we went to lunch, I wore my F.A.I.T.H. Riders leather vest with my colors. This was the first time I'd felt I had the right to wear my vest in public. As we entered the restaurant, I was proud to have the F.A.I.T.H. Riders logo emblazoned across my back. I was prepared and ready should anyone have questions about the group or my faith. Of course, Satan did his best to take away my joy. A fellow rider questioned why I was wearing the vest since I'm not a rider. At that very moment, my heart sank and I felt ashamed. I wanted to run out to my car, slip off the vest, and pretend I'd never worn it, but then...I felt God speak to my spirit and affirm that I did indeed have the right to wear the colors. I was a vital part of the ministry even if I didn't ride. He reminded me of all the hours I'd spent praying for each member, all the hours I'd agonized over planning material for the blog or the devotionals, and how He'd been using me to reach out to others. No, I wasn't a rider and I didn't pretend to be, but I did love them and I needed to be part of them.

A couple of months ago, I was on a ride with one of the bikers. Comfortably seated on the back of a Honda Valkyrie, we'd traveled the back roads of South Georgia. We covered 100 miles that day and my heart was full. One thing that touched me as we rode was the biker wave. I'd never paid much attention to it in all my years of riding with others until that day. As we rode, we'd pass other riders. As we approached, each driver stuck out their hand in a low wave. But it was more than a wave. It was a symbol of respect and camaraderie. It was a brotherhood. The riders were complete strangers and yet, they gave honor to the other rider. That spoke volumes to me. Shouldn't all of us be as gracious?

Many people look at bikers with disrespect. They judge them by their appearance. They assume they're roughnecks, foul talkers, and bar hoppers, and while there are some bikers who definitely fall into those categories, I assure you the F.A.I.T.H. Riders do not. These men and women live to a higher standard. Wherever they go, they represent Christ. They are His representatives and they want the world to know it. No, I'm not a biker, but I'm sure proud to be part of a group of riders. Maybe my gifts are small and maybe they go unnoticed, but I'd like to think I'm worthy of receiving the biker wave, at least in my dreams.

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