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Faith lessons from a bike ride

Faith lessons from a bike ride
Photo by Matt Brodie

By Jessica Brodie

There I was, zipping through the forest on two wheels and a metal frame, knuckles clenched tight, helmet rattling, knees pumping furiously and a crazed grin on my face.

That’s right—for the first time in who-knows-how-many years, I got back on the proverbial bike, and indeed it all came right back to me. I felt like a kid again! It was exhilarating.

Normally, I’m a hiking or jogging kind of woman. But after a three-mile walking trek with my husband through Harbison Forest in Columbia one Saturday, he turned to me and cocked his head.

“You know what would be really fun? Riding our bikes in here.”

Now, I have a bike. Sweet husband bought me a nice secondhand mountain bike last year, but I’d only taken it out for a spin once in my neighborhood (my kids complaining that their legs were sore and it was tooooooo hottttttttt didn’t make me super eager to take it out again anytime soon). But on this particular weekend, we had a little date time, and I agreed to return on a bike the very next day—it did sound like fun.

Fun turned out to be pretty scary, actually. I mean, me on a bike, bumping over rocks, not completely remembering exactly how to brake, and not exactly as nimble as my 13-year-old former self with the ability to hop off and land on two feet if catastrophe loomed.

But Matt told me to hold on, keep my feet on the pedals and my eyes open, and trust. So I did.

And wow, did I learn a bunch of faith lessons in one short afternoon!

For example, I got to tap into a new present-future perspective. In our faith walk, it’s important to live in the present while also keeping an eye on the future: knowing that everything we do has eternal consequences and that it’s all for one important goal: shining the light of heaven on earth. As a person who enjoys looking at situations through a forest and a trees perspective, I appreciate this.

But that Sunday, I realized that apparently I’m accustomed to picking one or the other: forest or trees, big picture or small. Having to bike through unfamiliar terrain, keeping my balance, switching gears, and looking out for big rocks and slippery ground cover while watching the path to make sure I was on course, in close proximity to my partner, and not about to go plowing into any innocent hikers … well, all that meant I needed to quickly retrain my brain into a forest and trees perspective.

The exercise got me thinking that I need to be doing the same thing in life, too, whether in my walk with God, in my interactions with others or in my approach to problem-solving.

Then there’s the God-as-strength concept. While I work out six days a week and even enjoy weight training, apparently my quadriceps muscles aren’t quite as strong as I’d thought. I found my legs were burning as I struggled with an uphill climb. There was one steep slope where I thought, “I’m going to have to hop off and walk this thing up!”

But then Philippians 4:13 popped into my mind: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

And so I focused my brain on Christ, on the awesome abilities and superhuman endurance he gives us all through tough situations—whether serious or trivial, like that day’s—and pushed every ounce of doubt far, far away.

I didn’t have to walk the bike once. Depending on God got me through as it always does.

And finally, there’s the whole faith thing period—I had a moment at the start of the ride when I began to wobble and genuinely feared I was going to fall on my face, skin my knees, break a leg, you name it. Matt told me to hold on tight and trust, but I let the doubt start to creep in: easy for him to say; he’s a lot stronger or a better athlete or did this a couple years ago, etc.

But you know what? I wanted to take that ride. I wanted to have fun and let myself go awhile. I wanted to trust and to go for it no matter what the physical risk.

Just as I do with the Lord when I take emotional risks, like sharing my testimony with a friend or inviting someone new to church, it’s good to put your faith front-and-center, ask Jesus to ride alongside you and take the plunge.

It was an absolute, one-hundred-percent blast. And I can’t wait to go for my next ride!

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