As a keen mountain biker I have ridden in many different places and on many different trails, but one in particular always comes to mind when people ask me which my favourite is.
This trail in particular is not my favourite because it is the most challenging or the most exciting. It is my favourite because I once had an encounter there that I have never forgotten.
On this occasion three or four years ago I was down in Wales providing activity sessions for the Christian summer camps that run down there each summer. As usual my evenings were free so this night I headed to Betws-y-Coed to ride a local trail centre.
Towards the end of the trail I was hammering down a particularly long and straight piece of single track when a huge bird of prey (to the best of my knowledge I would say it was a buzzard, but I’m certainly no expert) swooped down in front of me. The most amazing thing was that this huge bird – much wider than the width of my handle bars and only just small enough not to catch the trees on either side of the trail, simply matched my speed and flew only feet away from my face. Myself and this bird travelled in this formation for the remainder of the straight before it raised up above the trees as I rounded a corner. This experience must have lasted less than 30 seconds but felt like much more.
This brief encounter changed the way I thought about birds. From that moment on I became much more interested in birds of the UK and have slowly built up my knowledge through tv documentaries, books and dare I say it?- the occasional bird watching trip (but do keep this to yourself!).
One thing that I try to take away from this encounter is just what a huge impact a brief experience can have on your life.
As a Christian it is our role to tell people of our passion for Christianity, however in these busy times it can be rare to have more than ‘a brief encounter’ with many of the people we meet. Therefore we must treasure every opportunity we get and never underestimate how much of a huge impact you can have in such a short space of time. We must ensure that we live right and set good examples so that when people get this small snap shot of our lives they come away with a positive experience of Christianity – this might just be the spark that ignites a passion to learn and experience more.