I recently had the (mis)fortune of running out of fuel on my journey back home to spend Easter Sunday with my family. This year, I decided to attend the sunrise Easter service in Austin before heading back to Dallas. I normally make plans to include scheduled stops along the 200 mile stretch of highway in order to combat fatigue and re-fuel my motorcycle; however, this time I decided to push my luck as I raced home to see my loved ones. In my haste, I chose the allure of exhilarating speed and agility over the prudence of heeding my fuel gauge (which I dismissed as unreliable). In the past, I was able to average more miles per tank than my odometer currently read, which convinced me that I could easily coast to my intended rest stop. Having traversed this highway many times, I somehow neglected to include the reduced fuel efficiency into my calculations when accelerating at higher speeds. This translated into me running out of fuel nearly 2 miles from the closest gas station.
At first I noticed a slight sputter in my acceleration as I gunned the throttle through one of the twists in the road. Then I thought it wiser for me to move over to the slower lane in order to access the safe harbor of the highway's shoulder. Sure enough, the engine cut off as I had just enough residual speed to coast into a crook in the highway before my motorcycle came to a complete stop. After a few attempts to turn the engine over, I accepted that I was out of fuel and was stranded by the side of the road.
I parked the bike as far from the speeding traffic as I could move it, and began walking along the frontage road towards what I hoped was a nearby gas station. It was here that an older couple in a pick-up truck spotted me walking in full riding attire (my helmet in hand) and offered me a lift to the nearest station. The driver was an older man proudly wearing a war veterans hat, his co-pilot was his wife, both of whom must have been in their 70's. I gratefully accepted their gracious invitation and within 5 minutes was delivered to the fuel station that I was hoping to reach on my bike. I thanked them for their compassion, shook the driver's hand and watched them carry on their way.
At the gas station the clerk guided me to a ridiculously over priced fuel can that struck me as a potential deal breaker in that it was too bulky to ride with (or discard appropriately) after I used it to re-fuel my bike. Instead, I noticed a gallon jug of water for sale made of "high density polyurethane", which after a quick investigation on my smart phone determined that it could be used to transport gasoline. I opted for the much smaller, more cost effective, and most reasonable solution by purchasing the gallon, pouring out the water, and filling the empty container with fuel. I decided to walk back to my abandoned bike, which I sometimes refer to as "The Grey Ghost" [a Batman reference]. I watched as the endless parade of highway traffic whizzed by me and thought how foolish I was to speed through it before as if I were losing precious time. The irony of having to walk through fields of grass, glass, and trash strewn about served to imbue me with humility. I felt like the rabbit who lost the race against the tortoise.
I was a man who chased the thrill of speed and took great pleasure in cheating death, but it was only after having to slow down that I could appreciate the moment, which allowed Grace to be present in my life, so that I was able to see the beauty all around me.
I returned back to my faithful riding companion and poured the precious "life-giving" fuel into the tank and like that, "the Ghost" was resurrected on Easter Sunday.
Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come,
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.