About a month ago, I reached a milestone in my life: I turned 40 years old. It was truly a joyous time and celebration, a time that I shared with many special people in my life as well as my church family.
One of the highlights of the celebration of my birthday was that I had the opportunity to do something that I have wanted to do for nearly 25 years: I bought a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to experience the freedom of riding a motorcycle, and what better time to experience it than during my 40th year of living? At First Corinthian Baptist Church, 2011 is the year that we are committed to “doing what we’ve never done, going where we’ve never gone and being what we’ve never been.” What better time than now to fulfill a long-time dream of mine?
I remember how excited I was when I went to purchase my motorcycle. I customized the bike to make it look exactly the way I wanted it. I changed the handlebars, the seat and added custom exhaust pipes to give the bike that “Harley roar.” I was ready to hit the open road and see God’s creation from a new perspective. However, there was one critical step that I could not bypass on my way to doing what I had never done. That was to take a motorcycle safety and riding course.
I was excited! We spent the first day in the classroom studying technique and watching instructional safety videos. While the first day was very intense, the second day of class we were scheduled to go on the riding range. It was time to get on the bike and ride.
I cannot begin to express to you what a euphoric moment it was to sit on the bike for the first time. I could feel my adrenalin pumping as we started the motorcycles and began to do riding drills to familiarize ourselves with the bike.
As we began our initial ride, there was one phrase that the instructor uttered repeatedly: “Don’t forget to look through the turns.” Making a turn on a motorcycle is not like making a turn in a car. When driving a car, the car moves in the direction that the steering wheel is turned. Making a turn on a motorcycle is different because you don’t actually turn into the direction you are going. When riding a motorcycle, you press the handlebars in the direction of the turn, lean into the turn and look through the turn. This procedure can be difficult for a novice rider, because in turning and leaning, you feel as though you are going to fall over.
Ultimately, you have to learn to trust that the bike will not fall as long as you accelerate through the turn. Still, the most critical piece is to “look through the turn.” This means that as you make the turn, you must look in the direction you want to go, because the motorcycle will only go where you are looking. Therefore, no matter how much you press and lean, the motorcycle will always go in the direction of your head. This is why the instructor emphasized “looking through the turn.”
I believe that “looking through the turn” is a powerful concept for navigating our way through life. As we move through life, there will always be obstacles we must encounter, challenges we must face and difficulties we must overcome. Oftentimes, these complications have a way of hindering our progress so that we end up taking our eyes off our dreams and goals.
When facing your next challenging circumstance, instead of focusing on the difficult situation, turn your head in the direction of your final destination. Look where you are going as opposed to focusing on that which is seeking to hinder your progress. As with riding a motorcycle, I believe that in life you will only go in the direction that your head is facing. Don’t be distracted by the temporary: Pick up your head, lean and turn in the direction of your goal and look through the turn.