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Thursday July 5, 2007


Day 32 -
Eureka KS to Fort Scott KS, 92 miles, 5:45

How many times have you heard it from the back seat? "Ooohhh, what was it," the kids shrieked? You may have responded, "don't look," or "turn your head."

Maybe it was a deer, or a dog. Whatever it was, it's now very dead and not pretty.

Now picture that at 16 mph on a bicycle and you start to get an idea of what's on my mind today. The things you see on the side of the road.

First, of course, there's the road kill, unless you're in Washington State. They don’t have road kill. They do have wood kill (as I mentioned in a previous post). But, what about northern Idaho, what do they have?  Not much, although we did see one big, dead beaver.

Wyoming, Montana and Colorado: you guessed it, big deer and these silly, little chipmunk-looking critters who, for the life of me I can't understand, feel compelled to run out in front of cars. I have often wondered if it's a right of passage of some kind. "Well Chipper," the older critter said to the younger, "you're old enough now. Time to prove your critterhood by running between the tires of that semi truck speeding along at 70 mph."

Many don't make it. I know, I dodged their little carcasses 10 per day for 1,500 miles.

Then there’s cattle hauling country in Montana. It produces some interesting road conditions as well. It's not quite road kill, but those big trucks leave behind a trail of something that smells like it.

And what about the birds? I have seen a lot, big and small, from hawks to little chickies. I can't quite figure that one out. Are they hitting the windshields of moving cars and trucks? What?

Western and central Kansas hold the record for Kamikaze raccoons. And riding through flood-torn eastern Kansas today, I started to feel at home with snakes, frogs and about 20 turtles.

OK, enough. That’s not what I want to talk about anyway.

Next up, it's all the stuff people didn't know they were losing. From camper parts to auto parts, you name it, I've seen it. I've been keeping a mental list of all the stuff, and for a moment, I even thought about picking up some of the smaller pieces and making some kind of framed, abstract art piece for my office at the house. Maybe not.

Then, there are the memorials to lost love ones. Some states or counties provide a stick-in-the-ground sign. Most loved ones, though, put a cross in the ground with some flowers or stuffed animals and pictures and such.

And what about the flowers? Did anyone see the pix of the wild sunflowers along the wheat fields of Kansas? I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it.

And the road signs? Each state has its own cute little design for its state highway signs.

And the messages? I've seen a dozen "Choose Life" declarations along my route; more than any other activist-type message. But that's not what I want to talk about either.

I want to talk about litter. Relatively speaking, I guess I haven't seen a whole lot. But, what I have seen tells me plenty.

The common denominator for every mile of every state is Bud Light.

Bud Light.

I have become numb to it, and succumb to the thought that drunken litterbugs just prefer the fewer calories and the great taste (no, that was Miller Lite).

Whatever the reason, for every 10 pieces of trash, seven are Bud Light cans, or boxes or those trendy new aluminum things you see at golf tournaments. (When did those start to appear?). And that says nothing about the lighters, cigarette boxes, plastic Pepsi bottles and diapers, but that's another story.

For five and a half hours, or so, six days a week, I've ridden past the Bud Light, only today was the day to write this post. I was listening to Lee Strobel'sThe Case for Christ. It's a former atheist's all-out indictment on Christianity. Strobel, the legal editor and writer, sets out to find the evidence, and what he finds is the Truth.

The word evidence kept jumping out at me; evidence for the legitimacy of the Gospels, evidence for overcoming scholarly controversies, evidence for culture, psychology and even archaeology (I'm only halfway through it).

And here I am riding, looking at the Bud Light. It’s personal for me. It’s evidence of what I see as rampant alcoholism, a prevailing sickness that goes much deeper than the social drinker believes. It's the cultural acceptance, or even encouragement, of the abuse that gets me.

You see, I quit drinking alcohol altogether over three years ago. I placed it on the altar as an offering to the Lord when I re-committed and surrendered my life to Him on May 11, 2004. It’s just something I had to do. Others may not have to, or they think they may not have to.

I just wonder how many lives would be better, and less broken and less destroyed, and closer to Christ if only six in ten, or four in ten, or one in ten of the pieces of litter along our country’s highways wasn’t evidence for alcohol use and abuse.

I think of a sobering (pardon the pun) stewardship passage in Matthew 6:21 which says (I’m paraphrasing), where our check books are, there will our hearts be also.

It’s true also of our litter, evidence of the garbage in our lives.

Paul tells us in Galations 5:19-25 (NIV)

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

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 J. Boe Ellis - 813.732.0619