(or “Down and Out in Flat City”)

It’s a truism, I know, but I’ll say it anyway. Sometimes things just don’t go the way we plan. And if that was ever true, it was certainly true for those of us who went with Brooks Fetters (owner of The Huntington Bicycle Shop) this past month for a long weekend of riding in the Allegheny River Valley near Mariasville, Pennsylvania, where the Fetters family owns an old historic homestead.

It started out well enough on Friday. Even though the forecast called for rain starting around 11 a.m., we managed to enjoy a 40-mile jaunt on the Route 66 Trail before the rain arrived. So, we were feeling pretty good about our success so far.

Then came Saturday.

Again, it started out well enough, with temps in the 60’s and unexpected sunshine filtering through the trees beside the river as we pedaled along. Then, about an hour or so into the ride, Brooks suddenly noticed that his back tire was getting low. So, we stopped, inspected the tire, found the source of the problem (or so we thought), replaced the tube, and a little while later we were back on the trail. No biggie, right?

Only a couple miles later it happened again… then again. Three flats within just a few miles! (By the way, just for the record, they were all on Brooks’ bike.) Add in a few other complications, and before the day was done, our planned 50-mile ride had been whittled in half.

But wait, there’s more!

On Sunday, after the other guys had headed home, Brooks and I decided to get in a 50-miler of our own on the beautiful Red Bank Trail. Once again, the weather was gorgeous; however, about 10-12 miles into our ride, I suddenly noticed that my back tire was starting to go flat. So, we stopped and went through the same routine of inspection, hazard removal (a thorn), and tube replacement. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there, because an hour later, as we rolled into the little town where we planned to have lunch before heading back, my back tire again went flat!

Well, that repair used up our last spare tube. So, with no place to buy more and with 25 miles still to go along the isolated trail, as Brooks and I bowed our heads at a local restaurant to thank God for our meal, we also asked for traveling mercies and peace of mind for the last leg of our journey, both of which God graciously granted.

So, what’s the point of this devotional? Just this: “We can make our plans, but the Lord directs our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, New Living Translation)

It’s true, isn’t it? We can make all the plans we want, and we can make all the preparations we think are necessary—which we should. (For example, next time we plan to carry more tubes and CO2 cartridges!) But ultimately, our futures are in God’s hands. And since those are the very hands that formed the universe and lovingly knit us together in the womb, isn’t that the best place for our futures to be?

Prayer: Loving and all-knowing God, thanks for giving us the intellect to make plans and the resources to make preparations. But help us to always remember that, in the end, you are the One who directs our steps. So, help us to trust you with our lives. In Jesus’ name and for his sake we pray. Amen

Dave Marty is a retired pastor who lives with his wife, Mary, in Brownsburg, Indiana. They have two beautiful daughters, two great sons-in-law, and two creative teenage grandchildren. In addition to cycling (including unicycling), Dave also enjoys gardening, Scrabble, hosting Holy Land tours with Mary, and tutoring kindergarteners at a nearby school