Marriage and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

[Foreword: This post began as a sermon I preached for the Christian Motorcyclists Association, Chapter 651.]

There are probably a lot more motorcycles in museums than we realize, and motorcycles like our lives and especially our marriages aren’t meant to be put in a box surrounded by a rope or glass, but are meant to be exposed to light, to wind, and in marriage we are to be exposed completely to another human being. I believe this message applies to everyone, whether you are married in this life or a member of the Bride of Messiah, for the angel in Revelations says, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb,” Revelation 21:9.

Our lives before a lost world are meant to shine. Luke 11:33 expresses this sentiment best saying, “No one having lit a menorah (candle stand) hides it, nor puts it under a basket, but on a stand, in order that the ones entering may see the light.” The essence of this is that a lamp like a motorcycle or a single life or marriage are meant to be used, not hidden. When I say used – in marriage, I mean where there is an active participation in both partners who demonstrate G-d’s love for each other, a shining light in being godly in Messiah.

The relationship of this expression when referring to a motorcycling lifestyle is in its use, where all the parts contribute to a safe and fun ride! We benefit through being a living example of a lifestyle that combines the best of motorcycling and our passion for Messiah! Rav Shaul (the apostle Paul) wrote, “Therefore, brothers, I call on you through the compassions of YAHWEH to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to YAHWEH, which is your reasonable service.” Riding a motorcycle is a lot like that, a living offering to G-d; without inspections and tune-ups motorcycles and marriages run down. Here are some further thoughts on marriage and the art of motorcycle maintenance.

Walk around, develop an awareness of what’s right.

Matthew 6:22-23 that ’The eye is the lamp of the body.’ So, if you have a ‘good eye’ [that is, if you are generous] your whole body will be full of light; but if you have an ‘evil eye’ [if you are stingy] your whole body will be full of darkness. If, then, the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Having a stingy eye is a Hebrew saying which equates the state of generosity to goodness in the heart of people. When we have a good eye, are generous, it can be that this generosity of character includes a clearness of vision which is a readiness of heart to clearly and honestly inspect what we see; a motorcycle, or the heart of a spouse.

In other words, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceit. He shall lift up the blessing from YAHWEH, and righteousness from the Elohim of Yeshua” (which means G-d saves) Psalms 24:4-5. The idea of clean hands and a pure heart related to a motorcycle maintenance is understood as making sure the tools are in good repair and clean, and that our heart (our intentions and beliefs) are to make accurate estimations and repairs or maintenance before the ride.

Shifting your attention into “what’s different” mode may help you spot minor issues before they become big problems. Even though using your eyes to gauge your bikes condition sounds simplistic, other than wiping bugs off the shiny parts when was the last time you looked at each component of your bike? You might miss something that needs attention without looking over each separate part of your bike. The same is true of a marriage.

Example: I heard of a man whose wife love tchotchkes, knick-knacks, and would put them on the window ledge in the living room and kitchen, both of which faced the street. Because he was embarrassed by these diminutive mementos when he dusted the living room or straightened up in the kitchen, he would move them down to the tables below the windows; and she would put them back up. One day his wife became ill and as happens in stories like this, after a brave battle with her illness she passed away. After her funeral as he was sitting distraught in his living room, he noticed that since she’d been ill, she’d never put her beloved tchotchkes back on the window ledges. In tears he strode across the room and carefully, lovingly put each one in a special spot on the window ledges. He had realized, it really wasn’t about those little ceramic statues, it was about loving his wife.

Wash Me Whiter Than Snow

The best place to start is carefully washing your motorcycle. The importance of cleanliness is often understated, because scripture records that G-d will “Sprinkle me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:9. Whiter than snow means a level of cleanliness that is pure. Even though some claim that a bike that is dirty and has bugs plastered on it means the bike is being used, the fact that dirt hides defects is clear.

The brother of our Savior Ya’akov (or James) wrote, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body” James 3:2. Bridling the body begins with self-introspection, a type of troubleshooting for the spirit that resembles maintenance of a motorcycle.

The Psalmist tells us to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” Proverbs 4:23. Check for fluids where they don’t belong; find what flows out of a motorcycle. Find out if it’s gas? Oil? Coolant? Then follow the trail to the source. Similarly, we find leaks that spring from our heart expressed in our lives and speech may be used to troubleshoot relationships.

King David wrote, “Examine me, O YAHWEH, and prove me; purify my reins and my heart” Psalms 26:2. Examining motorcycles for these leaks is important – they come from the heart of the machine. Verbal leaks (so to speak) appearing in speech come from the heart. For we understand that each leak has at its source a defect. Don’t let your words be a defective leak in your character. Yeshua said, “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall account for in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by you words you shall be condemned” Matthew 12:36-37.

The Working Parts of the Body

Rav Shaul wrote to Timothy, “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” 1 Timothy 4:8. In this he was referring to the value of submission of the body to the spirit. Additionally, he wrote that discipline or training of his “body like an athlete, training it to do what it should” (1 Corinthians 9:27) was how he prepared for rightly dividing the word of truth in preaching. Physical training aids mental and spiritual development and the submission of the body to the Spirit. Examination of the critical parts of your marriage is more important than of your motorcycle. In 1st Corinthians 12:20 we read, “As it is, there are many parts, but one body,” referring of the body of believers comparing the body of the church to the human body and the importance of the whole body where no part has preeminence. The same is true in marriage, each partner brings a specific benefit to the marriage.

We read in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 that, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, R9but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Just as there are many parts and one body in the church and in marriage, motorcycles have many parts each important. Some may say, “I bought a bike and removed all the chromed parts. I didn’t need those.” True, but think of those bits as you would clothing. You can change clothes, but how often do you change out parts of your body? In marriage we’ve become one body.

The Moving Parts

Examine swing arms and all moving parts. Check the suspension linkages. If you have an older bike or one without sealed bearings hit the grease fittings with a grease gun till the grease oozes out the other end. If your bike has a chain, check the tension, check whether the links are dry and need oil. Check (and touch) any boots or seals you can reach for damage. Check visible wiring for the starter, battery, headlights and signal lights and check the horn. Check your battery if you haven’t put it on a battery minder, then test all lights again. Test the brakes. Check your insurance and your plates renewal dates.

As simple as this sounds shifting your attention into a “what’s different” mode for your marriage may help you to see those inconsistent, minor annoyances and deal with them before they become a huge issue. Some marriages suffer over small stuff that built up over time. So before small things like-oil-leaks-on-a-bike build up, take care of the little issues in your marriage, investigate and search out the source, pray over the issue and give it to G-d. Then involve your spouse and work on it as a team.

Example: There was a man with the bad habit of leaving the toothpaste uncapped, tube squished in the middle and smears on the sink. His wife soon grew tired of cleaning up behind him, but thinking it petty to argue over toothpaste remained silent. Over time this small annoyance became larger, almost to the point of starting new arguments over other issues. Because he cared about his wife, he reasoned that arguing over toothpaste was not as important as his wife, so he began a routine of capping the toothpaste, cleaning up and putting away. For a week or so things were quiet, no arguments about toothpaste or other issues. One day she came to him angry and crying. “What’s wrong” as he hugged her; she replied, “You aren’t brushing your teeth and we can’t afford a visit to the dentist!”

Motorcycle maintenance is ongoing, and so is the work you do in marriage. A good marriage should last a lifetime. And though there are motorcycles well over 100 years old, they are of little use behind glass or roped off. An hour on the motorcycle, and the hours spent on a good relationship will last a lifetime and both beat having your bike towed, or being towed to divorce court.

And finally remember what Ya’akov (James) the brother of our L0rd wrote – “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” James 1:19. It is better to listen than to talk if you aren’t committed to the dialogue. So, make an effort in maintaining your motorcycle to ensure a safe ride, but more than that make every effort to cleave to your spouse in goodness and in the fellowship of like-minded believers!

Father G-d I ask that you hear the unspoken prayers of the heart for each believer here. Let this prayer grow into action and prepare us for a lifetime of service to each other, and to you for your glory!

Dr. Ramón Argila de Torres y Sandoval

Edited: June 26, 2020

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