September 17, Day 77 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014
Crossing the Mississippi
Today was brimming with new beginnings. Early in the day, we cycled into downtown Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and crossed the Mississippi River, which acts as an east-west divider to those who travel by latitude. We were reminded of the new beginning immediately upon entering Illinois. The rolling hills were replaced by a large, flat floodplain with bountiful crops preparing for harvest. Even after several miles in our new state, we could look back and see the bridge that spans the Mississippi, which acted as a backdrop for the expansive fields.
The Mississippi River is a big deal on a bicycle tour, but an even bigger deal in our nation’s commercial history. We talked about it in Sioux City, Iowa, with a farming couple who shipped their products to market down the river. How many businesses use this body of water to ship and receive goods? We followed the Missouri River, from its origins in Montana, for weeks. It dumps into the mighty Mississippi before its waters spill into the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi and its tributaries impact so many lives, from those who plant crops on its floodplains—or consume them—to those who live in harm’s way of its rising waters.
There’s a psychological effect to our crossing. We’re now heading home. We’re on our side of the country now. The Wild West is long gone, and we’re returning to more familiar ground. It changes our perspective.
Revived by a Passionate Visitor
In an Illinois town just this side of the River, a young man came into the restaurant where Debbie and I were eating lunch, just as we were wrapping up.
“Do you have time to talk?” he asked.
“Sure!” I said. He had apparently sought us out in the restaurant after seeing our bicycles outside labeled with “TheHopeLine” signs.
He proceeded to ask me about our tour and about TheHopeLine. He was passionate about adventure as well as his Christian faith. TheHopeLine intrigued him because he was converted to Christianity after a life of drug abuse and other bad decisions. It took no time, and little explanation, for him to totally understand what TheHopeLine is designed to do and why it is effective.
His exuberance fueled mine. It reminded me of our purpose on this bicycle tour. Many people with whom we share our mission listen politely. They may make supportive comments or they may just listen and keep their thoughts to themselves. Some may simply need time to process and investigate what we’ve represented. But they don’t exude the type of passion this gentleman showed. His attitude renewed my outlook on why we are sharing about TheHopeLine on this tour.
God reminded me, yet again, that He has placed certain people in our path. This encourages me to keep “sowing the seed.” And it convinces me that our volunteer efforts are not in vain. This new beginning was right on time. When we returned to the road after lunch, it seemed we were cycling faster with less effort! We had just been jumpstarted.
New Beginnings in Life
Such is the case with new beginnings in life. We all need them from time to time, if for no other reason than to renew our perspective and refresh our approach. They may come in the form of a new hobby, a new job, a new home, a new marital status, a new locale, perhaps even a new idea, or maybe just a resolve to make a needed change. These changes can often accelerate personal growth or jumpstart us when we are stuck. Welcome them when they come. Better yet, pursue them with reckless abandon.
Some who contact TheHopeLine are due for a new beginning. It’s why they reach out in the first place. Some are eager to embrace it, while others haven’t yet mustered the courage to take the plunge. Those who are desperate enough will often grab hold of the new beginning, which usually means deciding to change course. They may realize that a destructive habit needs to go. Perhaps they need a relationship change. Some may even realize they need a new spiritual beginning. Whatever the case, when new beginnings come to those who reach out to TheHopeLine, they’ll be traveling toward a predetermined destination, just like us!