There is a story that I came across many years ago, and it speaks to me as I consider my journey with Jesus Christ. It has been duplicated numerous times so you may already have heard it, but I do ask that you read it and think, again, about your own perseverance in the Christian walk.
At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn’t KNOW him.
But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don’t know just when it was that He suggested that we change places, but life has not been the same since he took over steering the bike.
When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable… it was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds, it was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said “Pedal”.
I worried and was anxious and asked, “Where are you taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I’d say, “I’m scared,” He would lean back and touch my hand.
He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me gifts to take on my journey, my Lord’s and mine. And we were off again. He said “Give the gifts away, they’re extra baggage, too much weight.” So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and yet still our burden was light.
I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it; but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.
And when I’m sure I just can’t do anymore, He just smiles and says … “Pedal!”
There are many theological words we could insert into this story, but the verbal picture drawn for us is sufficient for our purposes. Life is hard – the Christian life is harder, especially if you try to do it on your own. Your way is simply not good enough … we cannot live a sinless life. That is the reason that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was necessary. We need to come to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and repentance, and only then can we rely on His strength to enable us to persevere.
In Second Timothy Paul encourages the young pastor to endure even when the “going gets tough”. In these days of the Olympics in Rio, we can more fully understand Paul’s reference:
An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
2 Timothy 2:5.
It is foolish for us to think we can satisfy God on our own, that we can compete in this world according to our rules and not those of the Creator God as established in the Bible. Do we really think we are bigger and know better than God? REALLY?
Sin has broken the connection between us and the Creator God. There simply is nothing that we can do to fix that situation because anything we do is just as dirty and sinful as we are. There must be Someone Who lived a perfect, sinless life, and Who was willing to be the sacrifice to pay for the sins that we have committed, so that we could be reunited with God. That Person is Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
The Apostle Paul says:
And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of salvation and perseverance. What a blessing!
Jesus describes our security in Him as we persevere in our walk with Him in the Gospel of John:
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
The Apostle John reiterates that which Jesus spoke in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Regarding Jesus presenting us to His Father in Heaven if we are faithful to Him, Revelation 3:5 states:
The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
Perseverance in the Christian life. It really is not based on our own efforts. We must yield control of our life to Christ, but even that we cannot do on our own! Rather it is an ability that we receive from the Lord as the Holy Spirit indwells us and supplies the power that we personally do not have.
We still must run the race and exert as much effort that we can muster, as if we were athletes competing in the Olympics, but at the end of the day we must recognize that it is God who worked through us. The Apostle Paul reminds us:
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7.
So, when you want to give up on your Christian walk, when you feel totally inadequate, when you think that you can give no more … listen to Jesus say “Pedal”. Rely on Him and He will see you through as He uses you for His purposes, all to His glory and honor.
Father, forgive me when I have foolishly tried to do Your work in my own strength. What folly! Enable me to see when I am grabbing control and let me release my grip and rely on You. May my reliance on You be my first choice, instead of my last resort. Forgive me, Lord. Your way is always the best, most beautiful and enduring way there could possibly be. Thank you Father for calling me and for granting me the blessing of a relationship with Your Son and the presence of Your Holy Spirit.