The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a destination for hundreds of thousands of bikers every August. This year broke all records with an estimated 1.5 million bikers in attendance. Many bikers ride in while others trailer in. Regardless of how they get there, they all agree that the South Dakota scenery is spectacular! It features ample winding roads and breathtaking views. August is also known for its mild temperatures and low precipitation making it one of the most biker friendly months. I have been to Sturgis many times, but never during the rally. Our family always cruises through Sturgis on our way out west. I always like to stop and cruise down Main Street to check out the massive bars, impressive bike shops, and the ever popular t-shirt shops, even though the bike rally isn’t going on. In the off season, Sturgis is just a normal small town with people taking care of business as usual, but I can still roll the window down in the minivan and envision the rumble and roar of a thousand V-Twins cruising the streets.
As a Harley owner, I would love to go to the rally just to people watch and travel the roads like every other biker but most bikers come for more than just the scenery. They come to party and party hard. The Sturgis rally features concerts, bike contests, bikini contests, plenty of booze, and much more. Sturgis has a sinister side and I think that is just as much of a draw for some as the mountains are for others.
For all the ruckus and carousing that Sturgis is known for, there is also a clear, bold reminder that Jesus is there. This reminder comes in the form of a huge white cross located on the corner of Main Street and Interstate 90 which every passerby sees. It stands year round; an ever-present reminder of the reality of the Gospel and the extent of God’s love.
In Roman times crosses didn’t symbolize love; they were brazen reminders of the fate of those who disobeyed authority. People hated to look at them because it invoked feelings of fear and authority. Insurgents were crucified publicly and painfully to dissuade others from dissenting. It was a gruesome torture device not a symbol of love and peace. Jesus was crucified on this torture device but shortly after his death the cross took on a new symbolic meaning. Crosses began to appear carved in stone and fashioned into jewelry as a reminder that Christ was crucified for sin because God loves us. Today for millions of Christians the symbolism remains the same.
No matter where you are at in life, pause for a moment and reflect on the cross. What does it mean to you? If it doesn’t mean anything, you’ve missed everything and will continue to try and find contentment is other things, but contentment will continue to evade you. Real contentment comes from having a right relationship with Christ. It comes from understanding that we have been created by God to glorify God in how we live our own lives and represent Him to others. The empty cross symbolizes this present reality.
As I drive past the monumental marker in Sturgis year after year it reminds me of the extent of God’s love in the same way it did the ancients. God is always reaching out to us with open arms whether we are parting like crazy or just going about our daily business. He extends His grace and love to us and desires that we repent of our sins and come into a right relationship with Him. He doesn’t care how we look, or what we ride (or don’t ride); He just wants us to come to Him because He created us to be in relationship with Him. Sometimes we forget this and miss our primary purpose. I think this is why so many people walk around feeling discontent. They are trying to find ultimate contentment in everything other than Christ. The next time you see a cross, say a prayer of thanks because God paid a huge price on it and He paid it for you.