This past Saturday I had the privilege of participating in a bike ride titled the “Paluxy Pedal” in Glen Rose, TX. I went with a group of three friends and we all agreed on riding one of the shorter routes, the 29 mile ride. For some, 29 miles may seem like a foreboding distance, but in the world of cycling this is truly an amateur attempt. However, it remained plenty challenging for someone of my athletic ability (inability/disability). The temperatures on this particular October morning started out in the chilly upper 50’s but soon warmed to a pleasant lower 70’s. The scenery of the Texas hills and Brazos river were quite wonderful to take in on the downhills and completely ignored on the more challenging uphills.
Though I’ve only been riding for about a year, it quickly became evident to me that the name of the game in cycling is endurance and efficiency. Obviously, conditioning your body’s muscles and cardiovascular system to work continuously for hours at a time is an ordeal in and of itself. It is an ordeal that remains true to most any race or testing of physical ability. Indeed, in our faith it is quite apparent that endurance is paramount in overcoming the hills that we ride down and over. It’s the efficiency that i find does not translate as well to my faith. Let me explain what I mean.
In cycling, a good bike is the more efficient bike. Cyclist will get clip in pedals so that their leg muscles can work more efficiently with a push and pull motion. They will spend sometimes thousands of dollars to get the lightest and most aerodynamic equipment. Road bike tires are quite thin in comparison to mountain or cruiser bike tires to reduce friction between the rubber and the road. Uncomfortably tight clothing is worn just for the sake of decreasing air drag. There are countless and very meticulous measurements made to ensure the most efficient seat positioning, frame size, handlebar length, wheel diameters, crank positioning, gearing, etc. All this seems almost overly OCD… that is until you start cycling uphill and for long distances. Suddenly, every bit of measuring and maximizing of efficiency becomes worth it.
In reading Hebrews, the author tells us in chapter 12 how we should maximize our efficiency in our journey of faith.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” -Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
It is so obvious to me that while I’m riding my bicycle on a long ride like I did last Saturday, I don’t allow a brake that’s sticking to my wheel to go without adjustment. I don’t allow a tire with low pressure to go without proper inflation. I unburden myself of any items that will weigh me down unnecessarily. To ride well and reach the finish line with maximum efficiency, I have to throw off anything that hinders or entangles my performance. How can that be so clear in riding my bike but become so lost on me in my faith journey?
The only race that truly matters is the one we are all in at this very moment. Life comes with many hindrances and hills. Entanglements that hamper efficiency are around every corner. Sometimes we are riding on the downhill and a low tire or a sticking brake may not seem like a big deal. But the moment you start to climb that hill, you’ll wish you stopped to fix it. It is worth the discomfort of giving up something that makes us feel comfortable if it in any way interferes with our efficiency of following Christ. Not only does this ensure maximum performance, it actually allows you to enjoy the ride that much more.
Let me also clarify, I realize that there are hills in life that are unavoidable. I’m not advocating we go to Kansas and find the flattest race we can. Surely there are things we can not change that will challenge our faith. What we do need to realize is that there are many things within our power to change. Sin is like someone offering me a more comfortable bike seat or clothing that may feel better temporarily but ultimately hinder me in the race. Too often we buy in to the lies sin sells us and we willingly strap these parachutes that drag behind us and slow our pace.
Therefore, let us throw off the Netflix series that hinders and the negative thoughts that entangle. Whether it is guilt, pornography, swearing, gossip, over-eating, dishonesty, or whatever sin is trying to remain hidden in your life and make you more comfortable, let us go to war with that sin and drive it from our lives. We are better off without it. We are committed to the race! We are committed to fixing our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ!