My wife and I recently moved from Minnesota to the North West. We've been here for a little over two months now, and we like it a lot. One thing that I really love is driving through Portland. I've always really liked visiting big cities, mostly because of the architecture. Portland is really cool because of the massive bridges and the twisted mess of roads that are fun to explore, even though they can be difficult to navigate for someone like me, who grew up with the open highway of Montana (no plural on "highway" because we really only had one).
A couple of weeks ago I had to pick my wife up from the Portland airport. I had some extra time, so I decided to go down early and explore downtown Portland on my bike. Bike riding has become a hobby of mine and I hear Portland is super bike friendly, so I was excited.
I circled waterfront park a couple of times in my car, found a good parking spot, and headed out on my adventure. I wasn't out of my car 10 minutes before I was invited to participate in the next "naked bike ride". "It's what we do here", the portland native assured me.
This caught me well off guard but,
I managed to mumble something about how I wouldn't be interested, and that "I'm not even from here". I had a short nervous ride after that.
Apparently, the naked bike ride had taken place the night before. Which caused me to wonder, what if I had come up a day earlier for my bike ride? I could have been riding my bike, minding my own business, turn a corner, and find myself engulfed in a herd of naked people on bikes. And there I would be in the middle of all that; red faced, confused, and fully clothed. Or, what would have happened if I was biking at a leisurely pace and they all road up behind me? (I would imagine naked people bike fast) This is a scenario that I'm sure could happen all too easily if one chooses the wrong day to go on a bike ride in Portland, Oregon.
Well, all this is to say that the people of Portland intimidate me. And, I suppose one should check the local community calendar before visiting.
Looking back, I wish I would have said that I'd love to participate in the event, but I can't, because I wouldn't know what to wear.
People sure do some crazy things in order to throw off all restraint and "be free". I've been noticing lately how the old nature of my own heart often resists being controlled or submitting to authority. A mentor of mine told me once that we all have something inside of us that wants to scream, "I will not be controlled". However, true freedom comes with restraint.
Driving would be a mess without traffic laws. If people could drive on whatever side of the road they wished or pull out into intersections whenever they wanted, it would be difficult for anyone to get anywhere (especially in cities like Portland). But, with rules and order to govern the roads we are free to go anywhere our cars will take us.
Similarly, when we surrender to Jesus and follow him with undivided obedience, we are truly free. We are free to join in what God is doing and we suddenly become very useful to Him. What a blessing it is to be able to participate in the work God is doing. As our Lead Pastor at East Hills Alliance Church said in his message last weekend, "the person most surrendered to God's complete control is the most free".
Take a listen to that message by clicking here, if you'd like: