I have been playing with psalm 23 for a while, adapting the words to speak the language of cyclists. After sharing it on social media, I had some encouragement that others found it helpful. One person wrote that he’d been knocked off his bike, but had found comfort in my adaptation. I was troubled by this because I had used the phrase, “you protect my minimum safe distance”, and that had clearly not been true in his case – and that we cyclists regularly experience close-passes while on the road. Returning to psalm 23, I noticed that the psalmist never claimed God would protect us in the valley of the shadow of death, only that God would comfort us.
Maybe this is the tangible difference believing in God makes in these circumstances. Most cyclists have been on the receiving end of aggressive motoring behaviour at some point, and all of us are vulnerable: equally at risk of injury and death. People of faith are not special: they are neither invulnerable nor receiving divine protection. Yet when they cry out for justice, when they cry out with an impotent anger, knowing that the world doesn’t care… they believe in a God who does care. They believe in a God who sees what is done, and from whom nothing is hidden. When a person of faith cries out to God for justice, perhaps in that moment, faith makes a difference and they are comforted.
I pray you find this reworded psalm helpful…
Psalm for Cyclists
Almighty God is my Directeur Sportif,
therefore can I lack nothing.
God cheers me on the climbs,
and guides me on the descents.
God shall refresh my legs,
and guide me through lost lanes of quietness.
Though I cycle through the valley of the shadow of the car,
I will fear no close pass;
for the there is a minimum safe distance
and you comfort me when it is broken.
You spread my journey before me,
in the presence of those who trouble me;
you have anointed my chain with oil,
and my water bottles are full.
Surely goodness and loving mercy shall dot-watch me
all the days of my cycling-life,
and I will ride with Almighty God for ever.
(Variation on Psalm 23)