It's The Climb
I rode my bike to work yesterday, fulfilling a vow I made before I moved to Austin, TX.
So, roughly three months after arriving in Austin, and after a ton of research and trolling Craigslist for the right kind of "starter" bike, I pulled the trigger and bought an inexpensive bike to help me fulfill my vow.
Yesterday was the first day I rode it to work. As I pedaled away from my house, I felt incredible. The sun was shining warmly on my face and a refreshingly cool breeze was blowing behind me, pushing me gently down the road.
A little voice inside my head said, "You did it! You actually pulled this off! You're riding your bike to work, dude. You're saving the earth, doing your part. You, my friend are an eco-warrior!"
Then I noticed something as I gathered speed out of my neighborhood. The road I was on was mostly downhill. Then the little voice inside my head chimed in with this little nugget:
"Ummm, so this is great right now, but going home is going to be all uphill, bro...good luck with all that. Oh, and by the way, it kind of feels like your hamstring is about to go out again. Are you sure you're cut out for this?"
When we're having to actually work to keep moving forward in our journey with Jesus the temptation to give up is often powerful and impossible to ignore. More often than we'd like to admit, we give in to that temptation to avoid the possibility of discomfort and pain.
There is a wonderful exhortation from the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:24-26:
24-25 You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. 26 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got.
Using Paul's analogy, the stakes are high in this race we are running. We need to give it everything we've got because the reward is eternal life--not just in the "ever after" of the future, but also right here, right now in this time and place.
May you find the strength to keep moving forward in your spiritual journey despite the challenges you might face. May you discover the joy of the downhill moments, and feel a fierce sense of Holy Spirit-fired determination for those uphill climbs.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.