I recently took up cycling. At first I was enthusiastic for every ride. Come rain or shine, I wanted to get out on that bike and nothing would stop me.
I told everyone I met how great cycling is and how they should take it up too — ‘It’s improved my fitness levels and I’m enjoying every day of it’.
After a while, the bike sat in the garage a bit more. I still loved cycling, but I was hesitant to go out on rainy or bitterly cold days. I needed an incentive. So now I’m officially in training for an end goal. I’ve told others about it, so I can’t back out!
Some days are enthusiastic. I can’t wait to get going. The sun is shining; it’s going to be a lovely ride. Other days it’s raining; I don’t want to go out, but training for the end game has to be done.
I can free-wheel for a while, get away without pedalling. Free-wheeling is fantastic, but then I start to slow down and wobble; then almost fall off.
And there are the torturous uphills. Even in the sunshine they hurt!
‘Why am I doing this?’ I wonder, legs aching, heart pounding. It’s worse in the rain, with the wind in my face. Sometimes, even the downhills are a struggle, into the wind and the rain stinging my face.
The sunny, downhill days are fun. The wind rushes through my hair at 30 miles per hour; sun on my face. What more could I ask for?
Some days I have company. Some are slower than I am, so I slow down and ride with them. Some are much faster and I struggle to keep up.
Rides with company on rainy days are quiet. Nothing needs to be said; you’re bearing the rain and effort together. You take it in turns to cycle in front and bear the brunt of the wind.
The most joyous rides are those with company on sunny days. There is laughter and time to stop and reflect — a shared enjoyment of our surroundings.
I have learnt a lot whilst cycling. My musings have led me to think that the Christian life is a lot like cycling.
Some days are rainy; some full of sunshine. They might be downhill or uphill; with company or without. The rainy, uphill days, alone, are hard. The days with sun and company, riding downhill, feel the best.
When I look back at the journey, I remember my first, enthusiastic start.
I appreciated company most on rainy days. I see that the slower companions taught me to slow down; the faster ones stopped my boasting.
The freewheeling taught me I needed to pedal, even downhill. I built up muscle and stamina when cycling uphill. I shared the burden on those days when the wind was on our faces. And the anticipation of arriving home was greatest on rainy, uphill, alone days.
I have come to realise that God gives us all our days, even though they are very different. And he sends just the right company for the ride.
He loves us so much that he reminds us of our first love for him (Revelation 2:2-5). He wants us to appreciate our company: ‘Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour’ (Romans 12:10).
He wants us to learn compassion: ‘Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another’ (Colossians 3:12). He also wants us to learn humility: ‘Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves’ (Philippians 2:3).
We are to ‘fight the good fight of faith’ (1 Timothy 6:12), build up stamina (1 Corinthians 9:24-25), and ‘bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ’ (Galatians 6:2).
And as we press on with our often uphill journey through this world, we know that one day we will arrive safe home: ‘Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city…
‘They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever’ (Revelation 22:1-5).