Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Sports Bikes, Wheelies, Jesus and Pianos

"I was popping a wheelie on my sports bike and noticed another rider beside me doing the same thing—on his bike. Suddenly, I found myself transported from the mountain trail to the water and there I was, popping a wheelie while riding on top of the water. This is so cool, I thought, and THEN I saw the mysterious rider popping a wheelie on HIS bike—on top of the water right beside me. I was like, MAN oh MAN, who is that other rider? Look at us...we're riding on top of the water! I looked over and it was Jesus. (Everyone laughed). No kidding! Jesus was riding a sports bike beside me, racing across the surface of the water."

"Dad always has dreams like that," she said to the rest of the group hiking on the trail. "Was I in the dream at all?", said a woman I presumed to be his wife. I chuckled to myself. They didn't know I could hear them.

I'm the worship leader and guest musician for the week here at Spruce Lake Retreat in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, and I was hiking the Spruce Mountain early this morning. When I arrived at the top, a group of people had already beat me there. I guess I'm not the only insane person who rises early and hikes through mountains. It's a hike I always take when I'm here. The scenic overlook at the top is spectacular and the hike is just as exhilarating. This morning I saw an orange salamander and a Baltimore Oriole, but no bear. Probably a good thing, though I'll confess, I really want to see bear cubs. (I published this blog on Wednesday morning and headed up to the top of the mountain for the second day in a row and wouldn't you know, I was looking out over the valley and right below me I heard crackling and popping...and out came a little black bear cub.  I quietly sat down on the rock and watched eagerly. Then, a cinnamon colored bear appeared and started climbing a fallen tree. I sat in amazement...and awe.  I also determined in that moment that I would go back to camp the same way I went up.  If I would have gone down the way I was supposed to, I would have encountered the bears. No need to create issues for myself.)

I contemplated the story I had just heard about Jesus popping wheelies. I love that image. In the past, I've been guilty of  thinking that Jesus would only be found in a lofty cathedral, or a monastery, praying and fasting regularly. I've heard many messages that have tried to convince me that Jesus liked to have fun, play with kids and wasn't all serious and mild. Though I guess they help to chisel away at the myths I've had about Jesus, there's nothing like a dream to dispel the notions of who we think God is and what He's like.

I remember one time I was instructed by a speaker to close my eyes and picture myself in a safe place—a peaceful place. Normally, I dread when people make me do that. I can't seem to still my thoughts long enough to picture any thing, let alone a safe place. But in that moment, my brain went immediately to the piano bench. The piano is a safe place for me. It's peaceful. Playing the ivories feels as natural as breathing and I'm at home when I'm I'm now picturing myself at the piano. Whew...what a relief.

But then the speaker instructed us to picture Jesus in that place. Now that's extra hard for me to do. I don't know just is. I've tried these exercises before and it becomes such a complicated process I freak out and can't do it. If you can't relate to this, I'm sorry. I'm sure there are a few who can. I'm just writing my thoughts here, so you don't have to keep reading if you don't want to. ;-)

Suddenly, I "sensed" Jesus in such a powerful and unusual way, unlike any other time I can recall in my life. He was sitting on the piano bench beside me and as I began to play, He inhabited me and it was as if we were one. I've never had an experience like that before or since. I often think about it when I'm playing the piano.

We, (I was now part of the group), continued down the mountain as my thoughts turned from Jesus popping wheelies in this man's dreams to Jesus residing in me when I play the piano. (I don't even know if residing is the right word). These things are hard to explain in human words. I know that He lives in us, but to experience Him moving from the bench into my being was very unusual.

All I can say is, I believe Jesus was in his dream popping wheelies and I believe Jesus plays the piano through me when I play. It's experiences like these that help break down our ridiculous myths about who Jesus is and what He's like. I welcome them and I was refreshed not only by the crisp morning air, the stream rushing down the mountain slopes, but this man's dream that I happened to hear being shared with his family this morning.

This is the view from the top of the mountain. I copied it from the website of Spruce Lake Retreat.