Tunnels By Karen Chenoweth
A group of friends bicycled in the brilliant light of an autumn day on a railroad bed that had been converted into a paved hiking/biking trail. Along the Allegheny River, we wound in and out along the sides of the Pennsylvania mountains for 24 scenic miles. The sun was making the autumn leaves almost fluorescent with its brilliance.
Along that route, there were two tunnels – long and curved so that the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” was not visible soon after entering the dimness. The blacktopped bike trail continued past the entrance. There were reflectors spaced along the sides and down the center, but no source of light otherwise. The dim light near the entrance showed seeping water from the ceiling and pools of dark liquid in the chunky gravel on either side of the paved trail.
However, once past that initial opening, the way became very dark. Have you ever been on a tour of a cavern deep underground when the tour guide shut off the lights? There is such total blackness, it is disorienting. This was the next step there. Deep under the mountain’s peak, there was nothing for the imbedded reflectors to REFLECT! The darkness was so profound, that I had to use a small flashlight to help guide my bicycle’s spinning wheels. But that light only reached the ground about 10 feet in front of me. I went from center reflector to the next center reflector. I found myself moving too slowly to stay balanced on the bike. But I had to keep going in forward motion for fear someone would overtake me from behind and not be able to see me. I found myself singing, just so my presence could be known. I could hear two other bicyclists coming towards me from the opposite direction. As they neared, one got nervous and went too far to his right. I heard him suddenly exclaim and then the crunch of gravel as his wheels got off the paved trail.
The darkness was palpable.
I like to quote the saying of Sidney J. Harris, “A pessimist sees only the tunnel. An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel. A realist sees the tunnel and the light – and the next tunnel”. I learned some spiritual lessons going through the darkness of that old Pennsylvania railroad tunnel.
Sometimes in our lives, we go through times of great trouble. The very air we breathe seems thick with oppressive darkness. No light appears ahead of us. What light we formerly had to guide us has been left behind. What should we do? Stop? Turn back
No! Keep going! Keep going, using your eyes, your song, and the little light that you have inside of you. Keep fixed on the “reflectors” that are there to guide your way – the Bible, other Christ-followers who are praying for you, your family, and prayer. Don’t divert away from the path, don’t stop, don’t falter and fall. JUST KEEP PEDALING!
After a while, with muscles so terribly tensed from that focused attention, look up. Look up and ahead. You will see the light at the end of the tunnel. Still, keep on, be careful, keep praying. Pedal harder and then rejoice when you coast out from the darkness into God’s verdant light, just as we did on that glorious day in the golden woodland hills.
Psalm 121: 1-8 (MSG) says I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep….he guards you now, he guards you always.
Remember the Joy of the Journey,
Karen is a Christ follower, wife, grandmother and part time song leader. Her love for the outdoors and travel has led her on many bicycle journeys and short term mission trips to multiple destinations around the globe. Alternating between Ohio and Florida (where her four precious grandchildren live), she continues to find joy in the journey of life.
Prov. 3:5-6 is my life verse:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.