Since Friday is my day off, I try to enjoy a good ride on the bicycle. Today looked like it would start off hot and muggy and only get worse. The weatherman was correct.
So, JB and I decided to meet around 9:00 to start the trek, knowing it would be hot, and we wanted a lengthy challenge. We had really planned on a 40-miler, but toward the end of the ride, it was apparent to me that I shouldn’t try that much. JB agreed and we adjusted the route to 33. It was a great ride. Hot, but great.
We don’t start a ride without first checking to make sure we are prepared. Ample water is a must. Protein snacks are very important. Tire pressures checked and chains are oiled. Spare tubes are necessary because some of the roads are hazardous. Sufficient hydration and rest the day before and stretching just before the ride are equally essential.
Also, before we leave, we must determine that we actually intend to finish the route. You see, once we begin, and the further we go, quitting becomes less of an option until we reach the point of no return. That point during the ride that we must go on regardless. We can make adjustments, but there is no quitting. I suppose we demean ourselves and call someone to come get us, but how low would that be?
Living for Jesus bears similarities. Before we surrender to following Jesus, we are compelled to count the cost. In Luke 9:23-27, Jesus teaches that one should prepare himself for the Christian journey. Choosing to be a Christ-follower is a marathon that begins at the salvation experience and continues throughout life. To be a Christ-follower, it is imperative to make sure we are adequate prepared for the journey by:
- Denying self – realizing that the root of my own sin-problem is me. My choices, my desires, my habits are all concentrated around me. Self-actualization is no longer my goal and aspiration. Christ-actualization in me now is my life-long pursuit.
- Taking up my cross daily – recognizing that it is no longer I who lives, but Jesus who lives in me. I have put my old sinful self to death and I now identify with Jesus. But since my old desires still rage in me, it is necessary that I return to the cross of Christ every day, surrendering my desires to Him. Every day.
- Following Him – becoming an imitator of Jesus, doing the the things He did and taught while avoiding the things He told me to avoid. Following Jesus is not just an academic assent to His moral and ethical teachings. It’s not just a curiosity that keeps me coming back for more. It’s a daily pursuit of willful and intentional purpose to allow Him to transform my life so that it becomes less and less of me and more and more of Him.
So, around mile 24, I started thinking about the next water break. “It’s really hot out here,” I thought. Not only is it hot, but the final six miles are nothing but hills. UP hills. I have to climb them. JB can’t climb them for me. He’s got to do that for himself. And besides, if I stopped now, who would come get me? And even if someone came to get me, I would still be waiting in the hot sun for half an hour. In that amount of time, I could finish. OK, it is settled. I WILL finish.
Along the journey of Christ-following, we encounter obstacles and setbacks: the “heat” of the day that beats us down, those dreaded “hills” that we must climb, the “course” that seems to get longer and longer as we go along, and sometimes the occasional “flat-tires” of life. As Christ-followers, we do not give up. We press on. We endure. As JB encouraged me (and hopefully I encouraged him), we both made it back safe and sound. And we had a really good ride. And we’ll likely do it again next week.