The best laid plans…

As you may have read, I’m on a motorcycle trip. I’ve been planning this trip for some time. This kind of trip takes planning, in my opinion. It’s over 5300 miles in 18 days, including five national parks and 13 states. You have to plan what you pack and how you pack. If you want to stay within the national parks, in our case, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Grand Teton, you must make reservations well in advance. It takes planning.

I did research, I looked at seemingly endless resources about things to see and the most scenic roads to travel by motorcycle. I had to plan how many miles to travel each day, taking into account the sights we wanted to see. It takes a lot of planning.

My buddy Paul and I even planned to spread the Gospel as best we could along the way, either by the way we treated those we met, helping the hurting we encountered, or just by directly sharing God’s Word with those whose hearts we sensed need to hear it.

I think we’ve done well thus far. Tomorrow will be Day 11 of our 18-day trip and Paul has nearly exhausted his supply of Gideon New Testaments and I’ve shared encouragement with over 50 people in one form or another.

What I didn’t plan on is the weather. Yes, I brought proper raingear and warm clothes. But with all the planning, I didn’t plan on the rain which has been virtually non-stop throughout our visit to Yellowstone National Park, obviously one of our prized main stops.

There are mountains in Yellowstone… I think. We never saw them. The low cloud cover hid them. There were so scenic places we would’ve loved to stop and just watch for wildlife, but the steady rain made it impractical and frustrating.

But as I sit hear on the porch of the Signal Mountain Inn in Grand Teton National Park, I am nevertheless grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to see this wonderful country and see sights that most will never see. I’m grateful for the safety God has provided throughout the trip, including protection from bison crossing the road directly in from of us. They inched closer and closer to me and having no escape, I was forced to sit motionless until they were 10 ft from me on my motorcycle.image

God has provided safety and favor… favor in holding off the rain while we waited 50 minutes for Old Faithful to erupt and favor in allowing the clouds to part so we could enjoy the astounding beauty of the Tetons.

Truly God has been the One who has been faithful… and I know I can plan on that.

James 4:13-14 NIV says:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.


I’ve talked to a lot of folks who wonder how to handle all the roadside beggars. They are everywhere… literally. They’re at highway entrances and exits and strategically located outside church exits on Sunday mornings when church dismisses. How do you handle them? They hold up signs that say “Homeless. Any amount helps. God bless!”

On our motorcycle trip, Paul and I pulled into a gas station in Shelby, MT to quickly refill our tanks and catch a quick break from riding. After I fueled, I rode the bike around to the side of the building to park in the shade. As I swung around, there he was.

Paul later asked me how I’d describe Daniel. He beat me to the punch and said “gaunt”. Definitely. Daniel is somewhere in his early-20s, about 5’9″, and I imagine he barely weighed 100 lbs. soaking wet. It was obvious that he was homeless. He didn’t have a sign that said that and he didn’t need one. He had a backpack and a bedroll and that was it. He was the thinnest young man I think I’ve ever seen in the United States.

I asked him how he was doing and he said un-enthusiastically, “Okay, I guess. Well, not so good.”
I said, “Why? What’s up?”
He replied, “Oh, I’m just stuck. It sucks.”

I asked him what he meant and he told me he couldn’t hitchhike because it was too hot (it was about 92 degrees) and he was trying to meet up with some friends in a town Paul and I had passed through about 50 miles back.

I asked him when he last ate. He said it was the previous night. I asked him if he was hungry and he said he was. I asked him how he was going to eat today and he said he only had a dollar and a bag of pretzels, which he was trying to ration. I told him that he needed to eat and that he was waaaay too thin. I handed him two bottles of water and $40 and he jumped to his feet and nearly hugged me. I then pulled out a Gideons New Testament that my riding buddy Paul Prince brought with him on our trip and asked him if he knew Jesus.

He said he did but I wasn’t so sure. I told him that God knew what he was going through and hadn’t forgotten him. He said he wasn’t so sure about that. I reassured him and then prayed for him, shook his hand, but still can’t get him off my mind.

As Paul and I were going down the road, we talked about Daniel and what the best way is to handle folks like Daniel. I’m not sure there’s a “across-the-board” answer. I believe it’s case by case. There is no clear answer. All I know is that Daniel looked hungry and he WAS hungry. What he does with the money doesn’t matter to me. That’s up to God. Was Daniel healthy enough to work? Absolutely. Did he deserve my generosity? Maybe not.

But I didn’t deserve God’s generous (understatement) gift of His only Son, who purchased my salvation. I don’t deserve His continuing amazing grace in my life. How can I withhold from someone in need?

None of us are deserving, are we?