"Jesus said to the people who believed in him, 'You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'"
"Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom."
-2 Corinthians 3:17
"So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law."
"One man with courage is a majority."
The bike ride is now finished and we are back home in Statham, Georgia. Today is a great day to complete such an endeavor: Independence Day, The 4th of July! I pedaled my bike across the United States of America and did it in total freedom. What a blessing that I trust I will never take for granted.
Yesterday we stopped at the home of Todd and Summer Anders in Lexington, Kentucky. Todd and Summer have a U. S. map at their house and followed the ride with a red piece of yarn. We finished taping the yarn to the map and I was once again reminded of the freedoms we enjoy. Jonathan and I pedaled across the country freely going from state to state and town to town. No border guards, blockades, or fear stopped or detoured us. Now, by car, we enjoy the same freedoms as we travel home. We are free.
Someone said, "Freedom isn't free." I will forever be grateful to the men and women who serve and protect us every day. Reader's Digest, this issue, reported that enlistment in the United States Armed Forces is higher than it's been in years. I would like to believe that the enlistment is higher because of patriotism and obligation. I would like to believe that there is a group of young men and women who simply love America so much that they would be willing to fight for and, if necessary, die to protect and preserve freedom. Let's not forget them and the sacrifices they make.
Our "Freedom Ride" is finished and the memory banks are full. The physical portion of the ride is history but we'll be thinking about this trip for a long time into the future. Many people have congratulated Jonathan, Margaret, and me but we would rather have the glory go to Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. We can never thank him enough for the people we've met, the friends we've made, the things we've seen and done, and the lessons we've learned along the way.
It's hard to know how to finish what began over seventy-five days ago, involved fifty-two days of pedaling, covered over 4,000 miles of America on a bike and over 12,000 miles by car (12,761.6 miles), and taught me so much about the Creator and his creation.
Maybe Jack Knowles, a writer for the "Hillsboro Sentry Enterprise" in Hillsboro, Wisconsin described our ride best when he wrote about Jonathan, Margaret, and me, " . . . Shettel's 'Ride Across America' business card shows him on a bike and includes the website address. At the bottom of the card, however, is a Biblical phrase from the 12th chapter of Hebrews that reads: 'Looking unto Jesus.' You get the feeling that Jesus is most certainly looking unto him, too. . . . turning the traveling trio into a foursome."
Remember when King Nebuchadnezzar threw Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego into the blazing furnace? There was a little discussion about halfway through the torching that included the king and his advisors: "But suddenly, as he was watching, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisors, 'Didn't we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?'
"'Yes,' they said, 'we did indeed, Your Majesty.'
"'Look!' Nebuchadnezzar shouted. 'I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire. They aren't even hurt by the flames! And the fourth looks like a divine being!'" Check out Daniel 3:24-25. Nebuchadnezzar soon realized that the divine being was the God of Shadrach, Mechach, and Abednego.
We were never persecuted and never pedaled through any flames. In fact, the first time we even saw a temperature close to 90 degrees was today when we got home. But flame or no flame, my desire was for folks to somehow see four of us on the road across America.