Strapped in tightly in his seat on the back of PaPa's bicycle is the best place to be for an afternoon ride down the cool, wooded bike path. The popular greenway meanders through our small town and intersects city streets in three different places. Dad, Shane, and I rode nearly to the end, but stopped short to head back home, knowing that nightfall was coming fast.
As we approached an intersection, the oncoming car stopped. The man inside rolled down his window and motioned for our attention. He was winded and spoke with a bit of panic in his voice. He asked if we'd seen a woman and two young girls on the greenway; then he explained that his son had been taken to the hospital following an asthma attack and he was trying to find his wife and two daughters to let them know.
With his detailed description, Dad and I realized that we had indeed passed them, though we weren't sure if we'd seen them before or after we turned around. We wanted to help, but we couldn't tell the man with certainty which direction they were heading. I assured the man that we would keep an eye out for them and would let them know he was looking for them.
The moment we returned to the front entrance of the trail, we passed the woman and her daughters. Trying not to upset them, I slowly explained the situation to her. Knowing that by this time her husband was on the other end of town, I decided to call my brother and ask him to come over and drive them to where he was.
In the meantime, Dad volunteered to head back down the trail on his bike to look for the man in case they weren't able to catch him. Dad knew this family needed help, so off he went. Shane and I waited behind as Dad could ride much faster without us. Making good time was essential because by now it was nearly dark and there were no lights on the trail.
Twenty minutes passed ... then forty ... and my brother returned after having successfully reunited the family. Unfortunately, there was still no sign of Dad.
"Did you see Dad on the other side of the trail?" I asked my brother.
"No, I thought sure he'd be back here with you guys by now. He must still be looking for the man."
"Well, we have to go find him. What if something's happened to him in the dark? He should've been back by now." I said, beginning to feel very unnerved.
I had told him that Shane and I would stay right there and wait for him, but I couldn't wait. I put Shane in his car seat and my brother quickly tried finagling the bicycle into the back of my Jeep. "It's not gonna fit. The back wheel is hanging out."
"Don't worry. I'll sit in the back seat and hold onto it!" I told him.
"Well, he just pulled up on his bike. Come on back home." Mom said.
When I walked in the door, Dad asked me with a grin, "Were you two the ones I saw pulling out of the parking lot with the bicycle hanging out the back?"
"Yep." It turns out that after all that waiting, Dad was about thirty seconds behind us.
Such is life!
Our bike trail adventure made me think of all the times in life that God's perfect plan is trailing our plan by thirty seconds. If we would only stop and listen, we could hear the sound of his tires rolling up.