“My head hurts,” I thought to myself as the morning light streamed through the blinds. I yawned and rolled over to find my wife sleeping with her back to me. It suddenly occurred to me that we weren’t at home. We were in our motorhome in the middle of the Mojave Desert. We were on a camping trip.
As I sat up, memories of the night before slowly started coming back to me. I had a vague recollection of a fight, anger and shouting. I couldn’t recall the reason why.
I swung my legs over the side of the bed and pulled on my riding pants. They were lying on the floor next to me. Quietly, I opened the dresser door and grabbed a clean shirt and jacket.
My kids didn’t make a sound as I made my way to the front door of the RV. Memories of me arguing with them, too, started coming back. Again, I couldn’t recall the reason why.
This was becoming a reoccurring theme lately. Combine a Type A personality with stress and alcohol, and you have a recipe for disaster. This was supposed to be a fun family weekend. It was an opportunity to spend quality time together and ride dirt bikes in the desert. Again, things took a turn for the worse.
A dirt bike in the desert
I pushed my bike away from the campsite, past the smoldering campfire full of empty beer cans. My plan was to sneak away for a few hours and let everyone cool off. Hopefully they wouldn’t be mad when I got back.
I started my bike and headed for the hills.
As I rode through the desert, I began to ponder my life. I thought about the gap between the man I was and the man I wanted to be. I thought about past fights with my wife that I started. I thought of fights that she started, for which I didn’t give forgiveness. As I rode further, my mind started to drift towards God.
Some of my deepest conversations with God have been on the back of a dirt bike. Of course, I do all of the talking. When I was younger, I raced motorcycles in the desert. During long races, I would talk to him for hours; it helped pass the time. I remember screaming through the desert and being completely at peace. It was like being in the eye of a hurricane. Everything around me was chaos, but inside, it was calm.
I grabbed the clutch and downshifted into second gear. My bike growled as I charged up a rocky hill. It pitched back and forth beneath me as it flowed through a series of granite outcroppings.
When I reached the top of the hill, I stopped. I leaned my bike against a boulder and sat down on a nearby rock. The pain was still present in my head and my stomach was becoming nauseous. I could still taste beer from the night before.
I began to pray
I gazed out across the valley below and took stock of my current situation. Luminescent bands of pink and gold painted the sky and the morning dew sparkled on the ground. There was perfect silence.
At that moment, I could somehow feel a divine presence. My emotions overwhelmed me and I fell forward onto my knees. I began to pray.
“Dear God, please forgive me for my sins. Help me to be a better man. Please help me to be a better husband, a better father and a better person. Please guide me to be the man you want me to be.”
As I knelt there in the desert, something amazing happened: I began to hear a voice. At first, it was a whisper, and then it became louder. God began to speak to me.
“I know all that you have done,” He said. “You are a man of little strength, but have kept my word and have not denied me.” Then He began to speak to me about doors that only He could open or shut. He said that He had heard my prayers and placed me before an open door. However, I would have to walk through it on my own.
After a few moments, I stood up and wiped the dirt from my knees. “I have seriously got to stop drinking,” I said out loud. I started my bike and coasted back down the hill.
Over the next few months, I tried to forget about what happened in the desert. I chalked it up to a bad hangover and a lack of sleep.
“Why would God talk to me?” I wondered. “I haven’t gone to church in years and I don’t read the Bible. If God was going to reveal himself to someone, it certainly wouldn’t be to a selfish bastard like me.”
One night, I came home late from work. I don’t remember the date or time, but I do remember grabbing a beer when I walked through the door. After a 12-hour day, I planned to sneak in a little more work at home.
As I walked down the hallway towards the office, I heard something that stopped me in my tracks. A voice coming from the television was speaking words that were vaguely familiar. I asked my son what he was watching, and he said that it was a movie called Facing the Giants. I grabbed the remote and rewound it to the part that had caught my attention.
Revelations Chapter 3 says we serve a God that opens doors that no one can shut, and he shuts doors that no one can open. He says, behold, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know you have a little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Coach Taylor, the lord is not through with you yet. You still have an open door here. Until the Lord moves you, you are to bloom right where you are planted.
Chills ran down my spine. Were the words that were spoken to me in the desert real? I began to frantically search the house for a Bible. There was not one to be found.
“How could we not own a Bible?” I thought to myself. I went to the computer and did a search for Revelations Chapter 3. Then I found it: Revelations Chapter 3, Verse 8. There were the same words that God had spoken to me in the desert.
I sat there for a few minutes staring at the computer screen. And then I began to weep.
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