…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

The Hand of Providence

Reflections on a Bike Ride to an Unplanned Destination

By Eric Chaffey


The hand of Providence is something for which I am profoundly grateful. Especially when it comes when I haven’t done something simple like look at a map.

I’ve taken up bicycling in a big way in the last few months. When I first started riding in May it seemed really hard to ride just a few miles. But as I’ve done it more it’s gotten easier and I can go longer distances. I’ve also noticed some great health benefits as well. My asthma which when I first moved to Sacramento was out of control is very well controlled (also helped by medication) my blood pressure is lower, and my anxiety while still there is lessened.

Bicycling has given me more opportunities to explore whats out there in and around Sacramento and since I seem to have been born with a genetic tendency to wanderlust it’s a good thing. The other day I decided to go on a ride toward Woodland. If you’re driving it on the freeway, its about 16 miles north of downtown Sacramento. Bicycling I think it’s a bit longer. But as I mentioned before I didn’t look at a map before hand. I ended up missing the road where I needed to go and ended up in Davis. That in and of itself isn’t an altogether bad thing. Davis is known for being an exceptionally bike friendly town. However getting to the main part of Davis even turned out to be more of a challenge. The usual route was closed and the detour added several miles to the trip.

By the time I’d gotten to downtown Davis I’d ridden about 24 miles and it was getting to be hot. We don’t seem to be getting Autumn in Sacramento. The thought of riding back 24 miles in 90+ degree heat didn’t have much appeal and seemed rather intimidating. Here’s where the Hand of Providence stepped in and rescued me.

As it happens, Davis is on a rail line that connects Sacramento to the Bay Area. The Amtrak Capitol Corridor trains run numerous times throughout the day. I remembered a couple of years ago someone who sang in a choir that I was in very briefly rode his bike to Davis to sing in a concert we were performing. I had overheard him talking about taking the train back to Sacramento and riding home from there late at night. The train station was very easy to find right in the heart of downtown Davis. I glanced at the schedule and saw that the next train would be in about 45 minutes. I don’t often carry much cash with me, but that day I had enough with me for the train fare as well as for lunch at a bakery which happened to be right across the street from the train station. I guess bicyclists are common on this route between Sacramento and Oakland as the conductor didn’t even bat an eye when he saw me with a bicycle. He simply directed me to a car that had bike stands built into the floor. Twelve minutes later, I was getting off the train in downtown Sacramento and riding the remaining six miles on my bicycle.

I know this doesn’t sound all that extraordinary. And perhaps it isn’t. I could have easily turned back a couple of times between West Sacramento and Davis. After all the bike path along the Yolo causeway isn’t the most pleasant place to ride being literally on the other side of the fence from I-80. Yet something kept urging me onward. Even after ¬†getting off the causeway and being detoured there was still construction to navigate through and a route that I wasn’t familiar with. I could have turned back, but I was being led forward. In somewhat unfamiliar territory I was guided to people who could help me find my way and to a place where I could find a place for lunch across from a train station. It wasn’t an accident.

I saw also something of an object lesson in this. The idea being that going forward in life and in faith is what Christ would have me do. Sometimes I do have a tendency to look back and get tripped up by past events and traumas that are in part some of the cause of my anxiety disorder. Yet looking forward and holding fast with hope and faith in Christ is where I need to be. He knows the beginning from the end. And while I don’t, if I keep pressing forward in faith, He’ll bring me safely there. It’s a similar message found in the scriptures and in the hymnal:

And hand o’er hand the rod along, Through each succeeding day,
With earnest prayer and hopeful song, We’ll still pursue the way.

Afar we see the golden rest to which the rod will guide,
Where, with the angels bright and blessed, Forever we’ll abide.

Hold to the rod, the iron rod; ‘Tis strong and bright and true.
The iron rod is the word of God; ‘Twill safely guide us through.
( Joseph L. Townsend  РHymns 1985 #274)

Tomorrow, I’m going to try again for Woodland. But I’m going to consult a map before heading out and be sure to bring a protein bar and adequate water.

4 people like this post.

2 Responses to “The Hand of Providence”

  1. Rex Goode said:

    Eric! You the man!!!

    I can’t ride my bike down the driveway.

    Great message too!

  2. Eric Chaffey said:

    I guess my response got lost somewhere in the ether. Thanks Rex. Love you my friend.

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