Pedal! and Perseverance

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.

Perseverance
Perseverance in Pedaling!

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!”

(Author unknown)

 

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.”

John 6:37-40.

 

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.

 

 

WHO IS IN CONTROL HERE?

 

I am in control of my life … right?  Are you in control of your life?  Really?

 

We get up, brush our teeth, go to work, come home, prepare meals, chauffeur the kids to and fro, do the laundry, mop the floor, make the beds, pay the bills, run to the post office for stamps, wash the toddler’s hands and face, do more laundry, exercise, go to the gym, ride the bicycle … the list is never ending. But, we are in control, right!?

Birthday cake on face (C)
Adorable toddler with birthday cake on her face!

 

Then there are the other obligations that we have on our schedule. Things like birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, worship at church, preparation for the children’s class party, choir rehearsal, women’s meetings for fellowship and prayer.

 

Thanksgiving meal new recipe (C)
Yummy acorn squash that folks would enjoy!

 

We take food to those who are suffering, participate in the Bible study and prayer group, leadership meetings, and work with outreach activities such as Habitat for Humanity, the Soup Kitchen, Second Harvest, etc.   And we still think we are in control, right?

 

Of course, we would be remiss if we ignored the incessant interruptions that the smart phone provides – email, tweets, Skype, messages, not to mention phone calls (the purpose of the telephone)! And we must not forget the magnetic call of social media such as Facebook. Hundreds of our friends want to know what we are doing, minute by minute. Could I honestly post that my status is that “I am in control of my life”?

 

Being in control of my own life is the focus of our culture … songs glamorize the concept by saying  “I did it MY way” and “I want it all and I want it all now!,”  an illustration that the focus of our world is I/me/mine!  In essence, we are the center of our universe. All else is irrelevant. Yet we still are running, we are out of time and energy, and, because we are so busy that we can’t squeeze another thing into our schedule, we believe that we are in control of our own life!

 

If we are honest, it would appear that we are slaves to the chores and obligations of family, home, society and employment! Like the little pet hamster, we are on the treadmill — running in circles with no visible exit point where we can rest, rejuvenate, relax, and refresh!

 

Ocean waves and beach (C)
Oregon beach with waves coming in, nonstop, with soothing sounds.

 

When was the last time you got off the treadmill and stopped so that you could listen to the sound of Nature? When was the last time you experienced the continual, powerful, pounding of the ocean and remembered that there is no switch to turn it off, yet the Lord could still the waves with His voice?  Mark 4:39.

Colorado Rocky Mountains
Colorado mountains, awesome in grandeur and strength.

 

When was the last time you stopped to look at the mountain and to consider the power of Him who holds the summit in His hand?

 

Beautiful butterfly
Beautiful butterfly found in Butterfly Farm in the Cayman Islands.

 

When was the last time you were still enough to inspect a butterfly, one of the magnificent beauties of God’s creation?   Creatures that are so fragile they will be blown away by the wind, yet they are strong enough to fly in migration across the ocean!

 

When was the last time you sat in a quiet room with your Bible open, reading it so you can learn more of Who God is? When was the last time you listened for the still small voice of God, speaking to you in a whisper in your soul, telling you that He loves you and wants you to focus on Him, not on the treadmill?    1 Kings 19:11-12.

 

Cross
Consider the cross, a reminder of the glorious gift provided to us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

The very life we have, breath that we breathe, is a gift from God.  Certainly, those blessings are deserving of our thanks.  But even more we should be thankful for the gift of salvation, purchased at such great cost as Christ’s death on the cross, as payment for our sin.  When was the last time you said “Thank you” to Him for all His blessings that He has given you, because of His grace?

 

Who is in control here?  According to Scripture, the answer to that question is “God is in control.”  In speaking to the men of Athens, Paul says it like this:

And he [God] is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.  For in him we live and move and have our being.

Acts 17:25-28.

 

In the Psalms, David describes God in a much more personal way.

For you [God] created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-15

 

God is in control and I can allow Him to take me off the treadmill so that I can do the work that He has planned for me from the foundation of the world.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

 

May I glorify God and His Son, Jesus Christ, as I experience the glorious adventure of life with my Savior holding my hand as His Spirit guides my path.

 

Father, I praise, glorify, and honor you as the Creator God, sovereign, all-powerful, and all-knowing. I thank you that you are in control, and I bow in humble gratefulness that I am yours. May I live in the fullness of life that you have provided through Jesus Christ my Savior and through the power of your Holy Spirit.