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On the Radio

I do a lot of cycling, mostly to work and back every day. I’ve been doing it religiously 😉 for five years now. It’s five miles each way, so that’s ten miles a day, fifty miles a week, over two-hundred miles a month, averaging about two-thousand three-hundred miles a year. So over the past five years I’ve covered eleven-thousand five-hundred miles! Now this surprized me (I’ve just worked it out) because it didn’t feel so far. I mean, that’s like traveling half way around the equator, or going from Iraq to Hawaii! If each mile were a knitting stitch, I’d probably have a pair of socks by now, or maybe even a scarf and gloves (see Kristen’s post  https://newauthors.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/one-stitch-at-a-time-%e2%80%a6/). I’ve worn out five sets of tires and three bicycles. I’ve broken dozens of spokes and lost count of the punctures. I’ve cycled in sun, rain, hail and snow. One time I cycled in a side wind strong enough to bring trees down and blow trucks off the road (remind me to tell you about that one some time).

Each trip of five miles takes me about forty minutes. I cycle at a reasonable pace but not so fast that I get too sweaty (for the sake of my colleagues). For the first three years I was happy to relax, and pray, and think about my stories. In fact, I virtually wrote all four of the short stories for my writing course during those commutes.  I would come up with premises and plots and even bits of narrative or dialogue, then jot them down as soon as I got to a computer, to be expanded later. It became a very productive time for me. Then I discovered audio books.

After five years of cycling almost exactly the same route I can now recognize every tree, stone, puddle, and crack in the road. If I looked closely enough I’d probably be able to identify the rut I’ve worn into the tarmac. After finishing my writing course I realized that I was becoming bored. I was looking for a language course and found a site offering books in MP3 format. Intrigued, I ordered the advanced Dutch course from Michel Thomas and bought a cheap MP3 player. For the next few weeks I followed the instructions of my course tutor, drawing curious looks from passers-by as I repeated each word and sentence out loud (no doubt they were wondering why a complete stranger on a bicycle was asking them for “another glass of white wine please”). In the morning I would study a language, and in the afternoon I would listen to a novel. Recently I found the unabridged dramatized KJV and, after three months of listening each morning, have reached the halfway point.

All of which leads me to the point of this post. Last week my MP3 player started causing problems. It would not restart where I had left off but take me back to a previous (apparently random) chapter point. I decided to invest in a new player which also has the capability of playing a new, improved audio format. I set about loading my audio books and some music but there was something wrong and the player would not accept the files. Experience has taught me that most problems with technology can be solved if you just have the patience, but it was late so I left it for the next day. The next morning I had no KJV to listen to and no Christian music. The player, however, did have a radio.

Now I haven’t listened to the radio in ages, except for the occasional on-line Christian station. I have a collection of Christian CDs and (yikes) cassettes that keep me happy. I love a wide range of music from the Gaither Vocal Band to Skillet, from DC Talk to D.O.C., from Glad to Alvin Slaughter. I jumped through the half-a-dozen preset channels on my new MP3 player (isn’t technology wonderful?) and settled for the station with the clearest reception and the most pleasant-sounding song. I set off cycling with the music playing in my head. By the time I reached work I had listened to about five songs and a ton of adverts, and my mood was vaguely depressed. The reason I was feeling depressed, I realized, was because of the music. Of the five songs, two were about the end of a relationship, one was about the potential start of a relationship, and two were about trying to find meaning in life. The more I thought about it the more it occurred to me that that is really all the secular world has to sing about. People are trying to find a reason to live and so they look to other people to give them that reason. Their hope is in the next boyfriend, or wife, or one-night-stand. Maybe the cute girl over at the bar will give their lives purpose. Perhaps the next fling will be more than just a fling. One of the song’s lyrics included this line: “I don’t know who you are but I’m with you.” The next evening I stayed up until I had my Bible and my Christian music loaded.

Sometimes you don’t realize how far you’ve traveled until you turn and look back down the path. I traced Iraq to Hawaii on a map and it’s a long way. Sometimes when I’m writing a story I wonder if it will ever be finished. It feels as if the bottom of the page is a million miles away (or at least to Hawaii). Then, when it’s done, I look at the hefty manuscript and think: wow, I made it. Sometimes our walk with Jesus is tough and we feel as if we aren’t moving. We encounter trials and tests. Sometimes our faith gets wobbly and we have to remind ourselves why we believe. Sometimes we are in the world and perhaps a little too much of it as well. That morning when I listened to the radio and heard what the world has to offer I realized just how far I’ve come. I’m still a sinner but Jesus has washed me clean. I still make mistakes but God is merciful. I may be in the world but my heart belongs to Jesus. One day I hope to complete my journey with God and look back down the path and see how far I have traveled and say: wow I made it.

About P.A.Baines

P.A.Baines writes computer programs for a living but would much rather be writing Christian speculative fiction, which he does whenever he gets the opportunity. Educated in Africa, he is studying towards a degree in Creative Writing through Buckinghamshire New University in England. He enjoys asking "what if?" but is tired of how speculative fiction deals with religion in general and the God of the Bible in particular. His stories are for Christians who enjoy science fiction but who normally avoid the genre because of its tendency towards an atheistic world-view. His aim is to write entertaining and thought-provoking stories that stretch the imagination, but which keep God in His rightful place as Lord over all creation. P.A.Baines is British but currently lives in a small corner of the Netherlands with his wife and two children and various wildlife. He spends what little spare time he has keeping fit, watching films, and playing computer games with his children. He does most of his reading via audio books, which he listens to while commuting to and from work on his trusty bicycle. He speaks reasonable Dutch and is in the process of learning French.

3 comments on “On the Radio

  1. Amen. That’s going to be one glorious day, when we finally reach the finish line. (:

  2. You are a blessed man, Paul Baines. It takes many people a lifetime to find that peace…the peace that only God can give. He leads us a few miles or words at a time and moves mountains in the process.

    • Funny, but when I became a Christian all those years ago I thought I’d reached the goal and that the journey was over. Little did I know that the journey had only just begun…

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