Have you been to Sturgis?

June 1, 2016 at 10:12 am  •  Posted in For the Love of the Ride by

If you ride (even if you’re a Christian and/or a family man or woman) Sturgis is a must at least once in your lifetime. The following article is an interesting story from a friend’s eyes that attended Sturgis and can help you see what to expect if you are planning to attend the mother of all biker events. WOG will be there and if you are, we are looking forward to riding, fellowshipping and praying with you.

I had no idea what to expect. Nothing could prepare me for what turned out to be an amazing photo journal of God’s love in motion. For starters, the Sturgis rally is a mind-blowing feast for the senses. From the minute we arrived, full throttle was the background music on any street, from any campground, store, or restaurant. The endless parade of colors, sights and sounds trolling down Main Street was an obvious answer to the question; “Why would two little California beach girls with out bikes, pack up and trek out 842 miles to a tiny town in South Dakota, anyway?” I was not a biker at this point in any sense of the word. No, actually more like a poser, an outsider. And yet, here we were, clad in our best California style leather, cruising the streets in search of stimulus like so many others. Easy to spot, my skin wasn’t weathered, nor my hair tangled and windblown, no shroud of dust and sweat, achieved only by a hard days travel, had settled into my skin. Quite clearly, it was designer hair spray and Estee Lauder perfume that introduced me from 2 feet away. ‘What am I doing here? So out of the loop, how do I justify my outsider status through curiosity!’ It started out innocent enough; it was fun when people asked to take photos with us every few minutes or so. What true blue Valley Girl doesn’t love that? But, panic began to settle in when my travel partner found entertainment elsewhere and I suddenly found myself alone in a town of 750,000 bikers many of which were not looking to celebrate the Jesus in me. Eh, not so much.

I began to witness evidence similar to a biker Mardi gras party, which after dark, appeared to me on the verge of what one might label a wild spring break. And I had placed myself smack dab I the middle of it. I was hurt, angry and confused at being abandoned for much of the week. Without a friend in town, and with so much partying all around, half of me wanted to throw caution to the wind and dive into the fun club everyone else seemed to belong to. The other part of me wanted to retreat to isolation and just check out mentally altogether. The realization of shame and guilt set in; when I admitted that I had been more interested in grabbing a ride, than being a good witness. I could feel the enemy knocking at my door, ‘Hi there, I’m having a pity party, would you like to come?’ I felt like Peter, once the cock had crowed. How could I be capable in my faith walk at this point, to succumb at the slightest trigger, and be able to stifle my true identity in Christ? In an instant with that thought, those words, that look! And I know better, have I not been concentrated, sanctified, redeemed and delivered? After 20 years, you KNOW you have done the work. And yet, if you think you can’t be deceived, then you already are! Contemplating on this, I knew I had to allow for the healing of forgiveness, to clear my vision, and yet I was still feeling hurt, betrayed. By the 4th day, I knew Jesus did NOT want me on a bike that he didn’t choose as a solution. And apparently he didn’t choose any! Everyday, I’d set it up, and angels would knock it down! You finally get a clue you know- about unexplainable equipment failure, sudden thunderstorms, communication breakdowns, or someone gets lost, and someone else unexpectedly leaves town. Over and over. I could feel heaven closing in on me, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t sin! I was in a prison of obedience. But had I done anything wrong?? My mind raced, knowing a thought becomes an action, an action a behavior, and then behavior becomes a habit. And the chains of habit are to light to be felt, until they are too heavy to be broken.

I’ve got 24 hours left here Lord, what is it you want me to see, to bring home, and to leave for others? Everyone else has a ride…. I just have a camera. I looked up and saw a man standing just inside a vendor’s tent. He didn’t belong. He might have been labeled homeless by the standard we are used to seeing. He was as old as dirt, there was a far off empty gaze in his eyes, and with no connection to the outside world he stood as still as a statue. An obvious local, with a fair chance for capitol gain just for rally week. I wondered how he had survived otherwise. His sign read, ‘T-shirts 3 for $ 29.00. I felt an impression in my spirit. “I want you to see the beauty and love that I am, in how I long for them to receive it. In seeing others as I do, you see my love for them, in all things, everywhere.” All external stimuli stood still as this man appeared to me as the world’s most beautiful gem. It happened again, moments later when I came face to face at a stop light with a young, corn fed Midwestern family in an old beat up truck. The mother could have been my teenage daughter, with the baby on the seat between them, and cracks throughout the entire windshield, I saw something unexplainable in her smile, as our eyes met, and like volcanic compassion, the eruption overwhelmed me.

These moments reoccurred continuously for the rest of my visit. I found myself laughing hysterically on the street with strangers, who turned out to be nothing strange at all, but each of them a unique collective stitch, in this colorful quilted rally. I witnessed several groups of Biker Ministries who had known this all along, and marveled at their reverence to passion for the crowds. Running along sidewalks, I strained to get just the right feel in a photograph of the life size crosses that were traveling in procession with “The Hellfighters Ministries” as they made their way up and down the street, loving on all that were present. All this goodwill needed to catapult itself towards the one person who was instrument for my lesson. Even though I struggled, I knew I would not be able to bring those tormenting emotions home with me. In a blur, a tattoo passed by me, eye level, on a shoulder of a man who towered above me. A cross and a verse. I reached thru the crowd but he was gone. So I dodged up a few yards until I spotted that shoulder, grabbed onto it, and said, “Quick can you tell me that verse?” He turned and said, “Phil. 4:13 ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Wisdom, spoon-fed by a biker, on the streets of Sturgis, South Dakota.

Each moment I was open to receiving the gift of God’s omnipotent presence, created a freedom to walk in love no matter what was happening around me. His love for all showed up in beauty everywhere I looked. And not just in the tattoos. In the volunteers at the photographic towers, in the woman who sold sodas right out of her fridge, in the ministries handing Bibles at their available parking lots, in the tiniest details of this biker celebration, and even in biker fashion. Just don’t ask to see me at ‘Burning Man’ this year; it’s more likely you’ll find me coaching for Special Olympics.

Jill Naumann
Marina Del Rey, CA

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