I spent last week in Chicago, finishing work on my Master’s Degree. The first day was hot and humid but one evening the heat lifted and the sky cleared and a sweet breeze blew over the Windy City. After class I had a book to read and a report to write, but the beauty of the evening tugged me outdoors.
I walked east from Moody toward the waterfront. I took a tunnel under Lake Shore Drive to walk along Lake Michigan. That’s where I got hit by a bike. I was carefully watching the bikes approaching from the south. They were cranking (no pun intended). I was admiring them and giving them their distance. When they passed I started to walk across the bike lane. I looked up at the evening sky and the water and the ships on the water. Suddenly, at the same time I heard someone yell, “Look out!” A young man on a bike coming from the north crashed into me. He was about six-foot three, two-hundred and twenty-five pounds but he must have been trying to avoid me at the last second because I stood my ground and he bounced off me and nearly crashed his bike. I was embarrassed but physically unharmed.
The evening was beautiful so I quickly recovered and strode up the lakeshore along the Gold Coast all the way to Oak Park. I ran into some guys from the Grad School and we chatted, then I made my way back under Lakeshore Drive to Michigan Avenue to the Water Tower and the spent some time on the second floor of bookstore there reading and sipping some coffee in a window that overlooks the busy square beneath. Long after dark I walked back past beautiful and historic Fourth Presbyterian and then home by way of a Venti Carmel Latte at Starbucks off Chestnut. There are some beautifully restored brownstones on that shaded street.
When I returned the headline of the newspaper caught my eye, “Deadly Combination. Bikes and Pedestrians on the Lakeshore.” Striking irony.
Because I have trained myself to think in analogies it occurred as I was walking along the Lakeshore that my little collision was true to the Christian life. You can’t just look “right” for danger and error because you might just get blind-sided by something deadly from the “left”… you might just get clobbered from the other direction.
I once heard a powerful message from Colossians chapter two. The speaker, Dr. David Warren captured my attention with an opening illustration about Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula that juts out into Lake Superior from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He said to get safely into the harbor you have to line up the lights to guide the boat in because if you don’t you have danger on both sides. His intent was to point out that keeping fellowship with Christ, the cross of Christ and the Church of Christ central in our lives will keep us from straying into danger on the right hand or the left. He pointed out that if we keep fellowship with Christ, the message of the cross of Christ, and the Church of Christ lined up like lights in the harbor of our lives we will avoid dangers on the right and on the left. He called the dangers Paul warned against in Colossians, “dangers of subtraction” and “dangers of addition.” He pointed out that the Scriptures frequently remind us not to turn aside from pure allegiance to Christ to the right or to the left.
That’s what they taught us when we were little and we took our first walk out in the world. “Look both ways.” When you are out walking in this world you want to remember that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ alone and you are complete in Him. (Colossians 2:3, 10) Real unbroken fellowship and intimacy with Christ alone is enough to keep us from danger in all directions.
Riverfront Character Inn
June 23, 2005