Many of my friends have asked “What did you learn spiritually from your coast-to-coast ride on your bicycle?”. Great question. The answer wasn’t as evident in the moment on the ride, but I would get glimpses of it as I went along. A few weeks after returning, it was as evident as the heat of Texas in the summertime. From my point of view, there are three elements out of your control when riding your bike – pavement type, hills/mountains, and wind. These elements are very similar to life. Each day, I wanted brand new, fresh, smooth blacktop, downhills and wind at my back. Very few days did that happen. Now – don’t get me wrong – we had plenty of smooth blacktop or concrete, there were plenty of downhills and wind was at our back from time to time. The problem – from my point of view at the time – was that the perfect blacktop was going uphill against the wind! Or we were going downhill on road surfaces that could break your back or bike. Smooth road, downhill and stiff headwind. Some portions of some days might be smooth roads, downhill, with the wind. Perfect conditions! Oh – that only lasted 30 minutes of an eight hour day! How similar that is to life, specifically the “Christian life”. For those of us that claim Christ, to be part of the family of God, we can at least grasp that God might teach us things through the struggles of life. John 16:33 (ESV) says “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Acts 14:22 (ESV) mentions that Paul and Barnabas were ….”strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” These are just a couple of references to indicate that life is not a bed of roses and therefore we will have rough pavement, hills/mountains, and wind. Some of our days will have smooth pavement, downhills and the wind at our back. Other days we will have downhills on rough pavement where we have hang on for dear life and crosswinds that will threaten to throw us in the ditch or out into traffic. Some days will be rough pavement uphill with a headwind and we will say as in Revelation 22:20 “Come, Lord Jesus!”. He wants us to grow stronger, draw more closely to Him. Consider Hebrews 12:3-11:
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
So, what lessons did I learn from riding a bicycle across the US? I was able to connect the physical endurance of the ride to the endurance needed in life to become disciplined. Pain lasts only a moment. Peaceful fruit sounds good to me – what about you?