We pedaled away from Havre at 6:45 A.M. and ran out of steam fifty-nine miles later near Dodson. Our goal for the day was eighty-nine miles but the wind made us work harder than ever so we called it a day. We worked for every inch of those fifty-nine miles and it puts us closer to our next goal, North Dakota.
While we were pedaling this morning a truck passed us with the driver beeping the horn. When we turned to see what was going on we saw that it was a wide-load escort truck so we immediately pulled off the road and watched as a convoy of trucks including a very wide-load passed by. A little farther up the road we pedaled by the entire convoy as it was parked in a parking lot waiting for traffic to go by. Up the road we knew the sound of the horn we heard behind us. Since we had already experienced this wide-load convoy thing, Jonathan and I knew to pull off the road to give them plenty of clearance. While we were waiting, the lead pick-up with flashers and signs pulled up to where we were, slowed a bit, and through the open passenger side window the driver yelled, "Thank you." I thought, "How incredible is that?" Just another example of the kindnesses we've been shown on this ride. Thank you Lord.
Around 11:30 A.M. hunger hit us. It usually strikes about every fifteen minutes whether we like it or not. At that time we were in Harlem. (Yes, there's a Harlem in Montana!) The whole town on that portion of Route 2 consisted of about three buildings: one gas station, a business with the sign "We Quit", and a little white building on the corner with the sign, "Deb's Diner." We stopped, we ate, and we talked with the waitress about what we were doing. She, like so many others, thought we were crazy but also thought it was a great thing to do.
Margaret, Jonathan, and I just returned from the Grand Union Hotel here in Malta, where we had supper. I don't know if it's the ride that does it or not, but every meal I eat is the best. I think tonight was the best meal I've had thus far.
We are staying tonight at the Maltana Motel. Margaret is still choosing our nightly accommodations and this certainly is not The Hampton Inn! It is, however, very nice, clean, roomy, and has high speed internet. What more could we ask for?How easy it would have been to sum up this day with the words: headwind, flat, trucks, two oversized loads, seven trains, cattle, antelope, horses, cattle, and miles. The miles were hard miles because of the headwinds. I've already said that. The weather guessers were wrong again last night. This is the third day in a row that they blew it (no pun intended) about the wind. Yesterday they clearly told us that the wind would be twenty to thirty miles an hour out of the west. They got all of their guesses correct except the part about the west. How about wind out of the east? That's where it came from and that's why the fifty-nine miles were pretty tough today. But tough or not, we are now over 900 miles into our trip and have only 225 miles remaining in the state of Montana.
Jesus used miles in one of his teaching sessions when he said in Matthew 5:41,, "If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles." Jesus was teaching here about how revenge is often the natural response in times of hurt, pain, lawsuits, and unjust demands. One of the main teachings we have done in the student ministry at Prince is "Others First." This is one of seven checkpoints we've used but I believe it could be the hardest of the seven to keep. It's not natural to put others first. Jesus used that two mile illustration because during those days a Roman soldier could come to a young man or boy and demand that his gear be carried for him. That boy would have to, by law, carry the soldier's gear for one mile. Jesus said, " . . . carry it two miles." Now wait a minute Jesus! This guy is a Roman soldier. Aren't they kind of our enemies? They don't even like you. And you're telling me to carry his gear for two miles? Are you crazy?
Here's what I think happened when a boy carried the soldier's gear for two miles. At the end of the first mile the soldier looked at the boy, and because he's done this before, expected the boy to put the stuff down, turn and with a huff walk away never looking back. But . . . a boy who followed Jesus and his teachings didn't put the gear down. The soldier said, "Son, that's a mile. That's all your required." To which the boy responded, "No sir, I'd like to carry it another mile for you." Now the soldier knew something special was going on here so they started talking. The soldier asked about the boy's family, his dad's occupation, and the boy's interests. The boy asked about the soldier's home, family, battles he's fought, places he's been, and what it's like to be a real soldier." While they walked they talked and soon even the two miles seemed like nothing. Why? Because at the end of one mile the boy had fulfilled an obligation. At the end of two miles he had built a friendship. I've never read this in the Bible, but I believe the next time this Roman soldier came to town there was a certain boy he had on his heart . . . and that certain boy would have been waiting for more stories from a friend.
"Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing" (Philippians 2:3b-4).
You can get through life doing only what's needed to get by! Or . . . you can put others first and watch your world change two miles at a time.