yesterday i spent the day in lawrence, kansas. i met up with my friend and mentor, joel, and we threw our mountain bikes up on the top of his green audi wagon. they looked good up there. our plan: go the bike shop and get a quick tune-up, get some chow, and then hit the trail.
this was my first real experience mountain biking. i’ve had my bike (affectionately named “space ghost”) for a little less than two years. i’ve put lots of miles on her, just not on a trail.
we rode 10 miles and it was great therapy. oftentimes, when your expectations are as lofty as mine were, you are disappointed. but you go anyway in hopes that maybe, just maybe, the experience will be all you had hoped it would be.
this experience was all i had hoped…and a bit more.
as we rode, i got to thinking about some great lessons i need to learn from riding.
1// we need a guide.
my friend joel is a seasoned mountain biker. he is the guy who infected me with the bug. he graciously has given me some equipment, gone with me to the bike shop a few times, and shown me many ropes. he led the way on the trail. i’m pretty convinced he was going a bit slower than he usually would, on my behalf.
but i noticed a few things.
what joel did, i did. if he was pedaling through a section of trail, i pedaled. when he cruised, i cruised. if he went over a log crossing, so did i. i figured joel knew what he was doing and i didn’t. so i mimicked.
i don’t mean to simplify the life of a Christ follower, but is this not what we are called to? when Jesus pedals, we pedal. when He cruises, so do we. when He leads us over a log crossing, we bear down and jump.
also, there were times joel got pretty far ahead of me. i felt isolated on the trail, but i wasn’t left alone. joel was challenging me. he let me know i had what it takes.
i think this is important. Jesus never gets too far ahead of us. but i sometimes wonder if He speeds up His pace deliberately not just so we have to hustle and keep up, but so that we might also know He feels we have what it takes.
2. where you set your sights is where you go.
if you see that ginormous rock in your path…and you focus on it…and you think to yourself, “i hope i don’t clip that thing and wipe out, tagging that massive tree next to it,” guess what you’ll do. you’ll clip that thing and wipe out and tag that massive tree next to it.
however, if you keep your eyes further down the path…where you want to go…that’s where you’ll head.
Jesus said, “no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God” (luke 9:62). to plow straight rows, the farmer looked ahead of him at a distance. looking backwards only messed his rows up. the same concept applies for the Kingdom: where you set your vision is where you go.
3. the easiest stuff is often the hardest.
i am proud to say that i only wiped out once while riding the trail. more on that in a second. but that’s not to say i didn’t spill multiple times. allow me to explain.
serious bikers wear special shoes that clip on to their pedals. getting in and out of the clips can be a challenge. when you are accustomed to simply taking your feet off the pedals to balance yourself, you are set up for some awkward moments.
getting off my bike should be the simplest of chores. but with those clips, it was tough. i fell. several times. and laughed a lot because of it.
often times the simplest things are our greatest challenge. prayer. love. sacrifice. simplicity. you name it.
4. just when you start to get comfortable, you wipe out.
i had found my groove on the trail. she and i were in rhythm. i was confident. i was having fun. and then it happened.
i hit sand. not just a bit of sand. like, 4″ of sand. i was full speed ahead when i hit the sandtrap, and i was not ready for it. my bike simply stalled out underneath me. i panicked and pedaled, but i only spun my tires and threw sand. then i tipped over like a cow at the hands of some bored rural teenagers.
the point: you never know what to expect. when you think you’ve arrived, you’ll hit sand. don’t get too comfortable.
5. you need to shed a little blood.
i wanted to leave some blood on the trail. not because i like pain, but i felt it was some sort of initiation. i wanted the experience to cost me something.
why are we often afraid of the cost? the best things we gain in life come with a price tag. this might be why Jesus paid with His life and calls us to do the same.