One of my childhood heroes died recently. There was hardly a boy my age who didn’t aspire to pop a wheelie like the man in the red, white and blue leather suit. The world knew him as Evel Knievel. To me, he seemed immortal.
Some called him crazy. What man in his right mind would straddle a motor on wheels and attempt to jump rows of cars, buses and canyons?
I was too young to own a motorcycle, but in my mind, my bicycle was just as good.
My first bicycle was metallic green with a beefy black and white banana seat. Some guys preferred high-back sissy bars, but not me; sissy bars got in the way of my Evel Knievel stunt simulations.
I was serious about playing the part. I peddled as fast as I could down Poplar Street and just before the bridge, I deployed my handcrafted parachute made from an old bed sheet. It was cool. Looking back over my shoulder, I watched the parachute spin in the wind as I imagined thousands of sports fans applauding my daring feats.
One day, I decided to perform my own version of the Evel Knievel show. I organized spare lumber from a nearby construction site into an elaborate launch pad near the city park. It was beautiful. I was certain my boyhood idol would be proud.
I took a few test runs until the moment of truth was upon on me. As I approached the ramp, my nerves were on edge. It was as if the whole world were watching. I broke out in a sweat and gave serious consideration to turning back. Surely this was how Evel Knievel felt as he revved his engine toward the launch pad.
There was no turning back. My legs pushed furiously against the peddles as my heart rate and bike increased in speed. My front wheel met the ramp and I was soon airborne. Life went into slow motion as I “hovered” in mid-air. I imagined cameras flashing, announcers commenting and the audience gasping in disbelief. I screamed, “Evel Knievel” in honor of the stunt king.
Somewhere between the pinnacle of my jump and the landing pad, my left handle-bar grip pulled free. Like the master himself, a crash landing was in my future. It wasn’t pretty, but I survived. My bicycle got the worst of it. I had bent handle-bars and forks but no broken bones. I discovered I was no Evel Knievel. I was trying to become something I was not.
The older I get, the more I realize there are many people who try to become something they are not meant to be. They aren’t comfortable in their own skin. By the grace of God, I learned God loves me and created me for a very special purpose that can only be accomplished by me.
I may never hear fans roar in amazement or see my name on marquees, but I do live for the day when the real Master welcomes me home, puts His arm around me and says, “well done my good and faithful servant, well done.”