I suppose it’s no secret that I enjoy bicycling. I introduced cycling to my wife and I think she likes it more than I do. Be that as it may, this past weekend Becki and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary with a bicycle ride on the rail trail that begins in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. This trail is composed of small crushed stones and we have bicycles that are designed to ride on this type of surface.
The town of Jim Thorpe is rather quaint. We enjoy looking through all the shops and tasting the delicacies their restaurants have to offer. The reason for the town’s success has to do with mining. Some time ago a vein of Anthracite was discovered in the area. This type of coal, as I understand it, burns cleaner and hotter that other types of coal. Due to this there are industries that have sprung up to support the mining effort. One such support industry is the railroad.
The bicycle trail runs alongside of the present active tracks and extends some sixty miles. This is a very popular destination for hikers and bikers and people just looking to get out in the country. Oh, by the way, this trail also runs alongside the Lehigh River. This is a swift flowing river that is often used for white water rafting. There are numerous places where one can pause and enjoy the sound of falling water. It is very relaxing and therapeutic.
My reflection today is centered around the idea of helpless trust. Trust by itself can often be challenging but “helpless trust” seems to come with the idea of stepping out of comfort zones into places that can be dangerous with seemingly no guarantee of survival. This idea will take shape as I relate the happening that took place while we bicycled on the trail this past weekend.
Along this bicycle trail there are lots of signs of wildlife. We stopped along the ride to take a picture of a sign that indicated a warning to all to be on the lookout for black bears. I took that warning seriously as I began to look for these wild animals hoping that I would not have such an encounter. We also came upon a rattle snake creeping out onto the trail. I pitched a small twig landing it beside the snake. He assumed the famous strike pose with his tail rattling and we heeded his warning to leave his presence. But what I wish to share with you now is an encounter like nothing I have ever experienced.
It was getting late in the afternoon. There was a threat of rain. To tell you the truth, I was getting fairly tired so stopping frequently to rehydrate was a good idea. As we meandered back to where we started our journey earlier in the day I looked down the trail and coming toward us was a small gosling. My first thought was, “Oh my goodness, where is your mama?” We got off our bicycles as this little creature kept coming closer and closer. At first the gosling stopped to investigate this new encounter. There were no signs of geese in the area at the time of our discovery.
Soon the little gosling found his way to my feet and laid his head on my ankle. He seemed exhausted. He allowed me to pick him up and as I held him he simply closed his eyes and went to sleep. Becki asked me what did I think we were going to do with this helpless little creature. I recall looking skyward asking the Holy Spirit for some assistance with this situation. I did not think we could leave it on the trail because it would be at the mercy of predators. So I unzipped my cycling jersey part of the way and nestled the gosling in my shirt, climbed back on my bicycle and headed toward our vehicle. Becki remarked that perhaps we could locate some geese and maybe they would adopt him as one of their own. We weren’t sure this would happen since we were holding him and our scent was on him now.
As we neared the beginning of the trail we happened to come across a family of five walking toward us on the trail. As we got closer to them all of a sudden to my left was a small branch of water where there were several Canada Geese swimming. After getting off my bike I approached the family of five showing them what we had discovered a couple of miles back on the trail. Then we noticed that there were goslings being raised by these parent geese.
I requested that perhaps someone in this family of five would like to take the gosling down to the water’s edge and introduce him to the other geese. The father volunteered to take the gosling and when he set him down on the ground next to the water retreating his steps, the gosling began to follow the father back up the hill toward the trail. He then walked back down to the water and as I live and breath the other goslings left the other side where they had been walking around and began swimming in the water while calling out to our wayward gosling and before you knew it had jumped into the water making his way to join the other goslings. What was so amazing is the adult geese seemed to welcome this little creature as though he already belonged.
I suppose there are a number of spiritual lessons that can be drawn from this experience. What I have taken from it personally comes from the idea of placing my helpless trust in a God that only has my best interest at heart. For so many who feel as though God is out to get them because of their sin doesn’t know God very well. This little creature was lost but his lostness did not detour his belonging nor his desire to seek help. Personally, what I believe I witnessed was an answer to prayer that we needed God’s assistance with this little gosling’s deliverance back to his understanding of safety. God did not disappoint. God is very present, closer than your next breath. If God can assist with meeting the needs of a little lost gosling just think of what He is prepared to do to meet you right where you are!