And God Spoke to Me in a Bike Shop

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

            One day during our recent vacation, I needed to stop by Hollywood Bike Shop in Avalon, New Jersey, for a minor repair to my mountain bike. My family sat in our van waiting for me. I had hoped to get someone’s attention right away so that we could get to a near-by state park to so some trail riding. (Note: there are no mountains in southern NJ).

            To my dismay, there was a line awaiting me as I entered the shop. I look a quick look at who was in front of me and I wasn’t impressed with what I saw, to be honest. There was an older couple in front of everybody else. This is exactly what I thought: “Those old people! They’re probably going to rent a bike, ride five blocks and get a sticky bun. Can’t they see that I’m a serious biker who needs to get on the road faster than they do?” Behind the old couple were a mother and her son. Here’s what went through my mind about them: “So they might make ten blocks before their sticky bun. They too need to step aside for the real biker. Maybe if they noticed that my bike is beat up from hard riding and I’m wearing my fancy bike shoes that clip onto my pedals they would step aside to let me go. Make way, Mom!”

            Just then I looked up and noticed a sign. There were eight words and I tell you, those words were God’s Word to me at that very moment. The Almighty couldn’t have been any clearer if the heavens parted and the Lord’s voice shouted at me! The sign said:

 Yes you do have to wait in line!

 

            The Lord sure gave me exactly what I needed that morning in Hollywood Bikes. I needed a great big shot of humility. The shot came to me by standing in line and patiently waiting my turn like everyone else. C.S. Lewis explains that authentic humility isn’t thinking less of myself it’s just thinking of myself less. Thank God for lines! Thank God for a moment that punctures my ego faster than a bike tire riding over a thorn bush. Speaking for myself alone, I need to ego deflation on a regular basis. Often, it’s the best thing that can happen to me.

            Entitlement is a much of fixture of our community as the lovely stone farmhouses or the Delaware River. While the river and the homes are lovely to behold; entitled thinking and living stink like a room-full of 11-year-old boys at the end of summer camp. I was neck-deep in entitled thinking that morning in Avalon. Entitled thinking: “The rules don’t apply to me . . . I shouldn’t have to wait . . . I’m better than most people.” That bike shop sign put me in my right and proper place. After all, if someone else came in after me, say a twenty-five-year-old biker who really knew how to ride, he could have thought of me what I thought of the folks in line ahead of me. One look at the tall, middle-aged guy taking space and making him wait and that young fella could have easily thought to himself, “What’s this has-been doing in front of me? Look at him! He thinks he still has is it. Doesn’t he know that he hasn’t had it since he was watching Miami Vice? He needs to step aside for the real biker!”

            A group of kids once built a club house. Once the structure was completed the boys worked on a set of rules for their hang out. There were three simple rules. One: nobody act too big. Two: nobody act too small. Three: everybody act medium . . . and wait your turn in line!