And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? Matthew 19:16
Eligibility for the Huntsman World Senior Games, held annually in St. George, Utah, requires its participants to be at least 50 years old. At age 71, the thought of competing for some senior gold struck my fancy. I was doubtful, however, about winning anything until seeing that they sponsored mountain bike races. I enjoyed mountain biking and was still pretty good at it. The cross country race would be the most daring competition of the senior games. How many over-70-year-old mountain bikers can there be?
After training six months on hilly, rocky roads near our Sandy, Utah, home, I was clocking some comparable times of last year's 70- 74-year-old winners, putting the gold within my reach.
About 90 mountain bikers in their 50's, 60's and 70's showed up from Alaska, Canada, eleven lower states and Mexico. Only one other 71-year-old registered in the "Expert" class I was in. If I could beat him my dream of winning gold would be fulfilled. All were given course maps, and our race director gave us instructions about the 7.5-mile cross country loop. He said it would finish on the same downhill course we had used the previous day. The director emphasized the importance of observing the colored markers placed at each strategic spot on the path over the rocky southern Utah landscape.
Suddenly the final minute counted down and we were on our way matching legs, lungs and biking skills. Feeling strong, I was soon far enough ahead that the golden dream was becoming a reality. My bike was changing gears perfectly and withstanding the punishing course that went up and down and back up nearly six miles of rocky paths and washes until crossing yesterday's wider hill climb road.
I rode up alone to the top with no riders in sight as I came to the "wide road" of the previous day's hill climb course. All I had to do was ride straight across to the "narrow path." If I could "endure" that final mile and a half of downhill without crashing, I'd win the gold.
However, the previous day we had all used a higher entrance to the downhill trail. I had not listened closely enough to our director (like the prophet), misinterpreted the map (like the scripture) and was sure (stiff-necked) the farther-away entrance was the way the course went. I saw the marker (commandment) I should have followed to go straight across the "wide road" to the "narrow path." Instead, I mistakenly turned aside off the course up the "broad road" searching for the wrong entrance. Seeing no other marker, I continued on until reaching the top of a bluff. From this dead end cliff drop off, I realized I had lost my way. Riding back more carefully I found the path again after my slower competitor, having stayed on the "straight and narrow" way, had gone on ahead to win the gold.
I complained to the director that there was no marker showing the downhill start. Having my undivided attention this time, he explained again all I needed to do was go straight across the road at the marker onto the correct downhill entrance. Suddenly I clearly saw the error of my way. Alone at the top of the course the responsibility to correctly heed the marker and stay on the "straight and narrow" was all mine. I'd gone astray by my own stubborn choice and now had to accept the consequences and smile for the camera as I stood with my slower but more obedient and faithful brother who got the coveted cross-country gold.
Losing the gold medal after heeding all the race course markers but one might cause one to ponder the question like the rich young ruler asked Jesus in Matthew 19:16. Is there one commandment I'm lacking? What cost might there be in disregarding just one of our Lord's commandments though faithful in all the others?
David R. Scott, Sandy, Utah
"Living by the Scriptures" is another in a series of Church News reader response features. Was there a time when a particular scripture touched you, when it offered comfort, guidance and much-needed support? If so, please describe your experience in 250-300 words, giving the scripture reference and telling how it affected you. Send your submission to Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110. Fax No. (801) 237-2524. Internet E-mail: [email protected]